A Forty Year Evolution
by Joe McLean
In the west end of the city of Ottawa, an 18-hole championship golf course winds through the residential community of Kanata Lakes.
Owned and operated by ClubLink The Kanata Golf & Country Club has grown in parallel to the evolution of the city of Kanata, into its own self-sufficient community as envisioned by Bill Teron.
Long time residents of the original community of Beaverbrook remember Bill Teron’s vision of Kanata from the early 1960’s – a multi-dimensional city built on the potential of its residents. Mr. Teron assembled over three thousand acres of land to build his community and his houses were augmented with forty percent open space including lakes, parks, walkways and a nine-hole golf course.
Starting in 1965 and built on rolling park and farm land, the original nine hole Kanata Golf and Club was truly a hidden treasure. In fact, even after opening for play in May, 1968, many residents drove past the tree-lined dirt road leading to the club’s parking lot, never realizing that a golf course existed there.
Certainly members and golfers fortunate enough to have played the course appreciated the slick poa annua greens, the feel of separate holes (the nine played as eighteen based on the later-built, double sets of tees) where you had the sense of being alone and one with nature, even so close to a growing community.
Kanata Golf Club’s Invitationals and Pro-Ams were always well attended, with putting contests continuing well into the early morning hours under an improvised spotlight and with refreshments flowing. Men’s night featured bridge games in the ladies locker-room, poker games at the oversize Director’s table, the occasional games of Monkey golf, appreciation of your own self-cooked steak on the barbecue, and generally the camaraderie of fellow golfers.
But before long, the expected housing developments under owners, Campeau Corporation and Genstar Development, began to make inroads into this idyllic nine hole treasure. Canadian golf course designer Tom McBroom was commissioned by Genstar to develop a championship eighteen hole golf course, which ranged in measurement from 5306 – 6714 yards within the expanded property, complete with the requisite driving range, maintenance area and new clubhouse.
Six holes (#’s 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) have stood the test of time and remain in some form or other from the original nine-hole course. Residential homes now line the majority of the holes at Kanata Golf & Country Club. The gently rolling, and in some cases tree-lined, bent grass fairways still offer generous targets and the bent-grass greens are even slicker than their predecessors.
Many holes are memorable on the course, but the two that stand out are the par three-8th and the par five–9th holes which were to be the original finishing holes. Golfers who are familiar with the course know that these two holes can make or break a perfectly good round of golf. Many golfers have stopped at the 19th hole for refreshments after confronting eight and nine.
Number eight is a par three measuring 215 yards from the tips, but more often playing from 170–185 yards for most golfers. A two-tiered green awaits your tee shot, that is if you can get past the lake occupying almost the full length of the hole and especially in front of and to the left side of the green. Bailing out to the right is an option, but the next chip shot onto the green offers no guarantee of a par or even a bogey on the hole.
The par five – 9th hole, the hole originally intended to be the closer measures 574 yards from the tips. A strong and accurate shot is required off the tee and then important decisions have to be made. Trees and rocks to the left and a lake on the right running from the 200-yard mark to the green attract your vision as they frame the ribbon-like fairway. Laying up to a manageable distance for your third shot is the recommended course of action. Many a golfer has laid up to what he or she thought would make the third shot easier only to find an unenviable shot facing them to the green positioned right at the end of the lake, bunkers front left and back right and a prevailing wind blowing in their face. The parking lot and lake have captured many errant shots and games have been ruined on this monster of a hole where par is always good, and many times, considered a bonus score.
Always of note on the original course was the very 1st hole, now the 6th. The long and narrow hole was just twenty one yard wide before the trees were cut back causing even better players fits. According long-time member Ted Smale, Stan Kolar, the notable golf professional and winner of many provincial opens, remarked upon seeing the hole for the first time, “There is no way anyone who plays this course is not going to be uptight every time they play.” While some holes are notably softer than they once were, the course never fails to get your attention, just as Kolar had predicted so accurately.
Long-time members remember the original small six-room clubhouse, run by CPGA professional Gerry McKee from 1968-1990. With its limited number of power carts, a snack-bar with pre-packaged hot dogs and chuck-wagon sandwiches ready for heating and limited shower facilities, it pales in comparison with the current clubhouse. The new structure, under the direction of the various CPGA pros following Gerry McKee – Terry Kolar, Grant Holcomb, Phil Rankin and currently Darryl Lepage, provides a modern contrast to its predecessor with a fully equipped kitchen, separate member’s dining area, substantial locker-rooms/shower facilities, and outdoor patios and decks offering inviting views of the ninth and eighteen greens.
Seizing an opportunity, ClubLink made its first foray into the Ottawa market with the purchase of the, then, Kanata Lakes Golf & Country Club in 1996 and went back to the original Kanata Golf and Country Club name. Today, ClubLink is Canada’s largest owner and operator of premium golf properties, with a breathtaking array of golf courses and resort properties in Ontario and Quebec. ClubLink. Kanata members have access to the entire network.
Over the years, the Kanata club has hosted many local professional and amateur championships, numerous fundraising charity events and in 2001 it was even host to the Chrysler Nations’ Cup. Canada, represented by Dawn Coe-Jones, A.J. Eathorne and Lorie Kane, was victorious over teams representing the United States and Sweden.
Just like the city of Kanata, the golf course has grown and the Kanata Golf & Country Club is now a showcase in the west end of Ottawa and one of the jewels in the ClubLink family. The membership, under all formats of ownership, has remained very loyal to the club, with much of that connection created by the members themselves.
Recently, founding member Ted Smale reflected on the changes to the place through the years. “It’s been a great course to have been part of, from the start in 1965 through its evolution to the course it is today. Yes, things have changed and the changes have not always been easy to accept. What hasn’t changed though has been the character of the club and its members. The course has always made you think your way around it, under control. And the members have always been generous and ready to participate. It’s been fun and continues to be so.” Those thoughts were echoed by members Dave Inniss, Keith Kavanagh, and head professional Darryl Lepage who were kind enough, along with Ted Smale, to lend us some time in the research of this article.
In forty years many fine golfers have emerged from Kanata. “For a small club, it has always been very competitive in juniors’, Ladies’ and Men’s competitions both within the Club and throughout the OVGA (Ottawa Valley Golf Association) area. That’s what keeps us young!” remarked Smale, a long-time OVGA supporter and player.
Of course, the stories of the social events at Kanata are legendary and the same joy at belonging to, and playing at, the club still seems to be pervasive. And while times have changed and the all-night parties that saw golfers go from the dance floor right to the first tee are gone, members and guests alike continue to celebrate all that the Kanata Golf & Country Club offers.
Like any club that has been around forty years, there have been a lot of changes but progress has been kind to Kanata Golf & Country Club. While the amenities have grown, the feel of the club has been retained as much as possible. And that is just how the members like it. Looking back, they have a lot to be proud of, and as they look ahead they have plenty to celebrate and look forward to. The little club that people once overlooked is now nothing but memorable.
ClubLink Corporation – Private Club
Darryl Lepage, C.P.G.A
Food & Beverage Manager
Yardage/Ratings/Slope (Par 70)
Gold – 6714 / 72.5 / 127
Blue – 6481 / 71.1 / 125
White – 6013 / 68.8 / 116
Red – 5306 / 65.7 / 107
White – 6013 / 74.9 / 130
Green – 5642 / 72.7 / 122
Red –5306 / 70.5 / 118
Average Hole Lengths (Gold Tees)
Par 3’s- 189 Yards
Par 4’s-404 Yards
Par 5’s-557 Yards
Kanata Golf & Country Club
7000 Campeau Drive,