A Worthy Foe
Like the famous Rene Zellweger line from the movie Jerry McGuire…”Whitetail Golf Club – you had me at hello.”
In this case it was the very first hole at the Eganville area golf club where I was left astounded by what I was seeing. Often told about what a great golf course group of five innovative people had hewn from the Upper Ottawa Valley landscape, I didn’t fully appreciate that until I got there myself. Pictures hardly do it justice – you need the full three dimensional experience. This is beautiful country, and the smooth hour drive from Ottawa is a scenic appetizer to the golf that lies ahead of you. Vista by vista your anticipation builds.
Most surprising about the course is the fact that the group does not have a long record of golf experience, a fact that is hard to garner from seeing the layout. The lead man for the ownership collective was Jack MacDonald (well known for Ottawa Valley Glass, a business owned by he and wife Lorraine that they operated for many decades) who had played but a few games before deciding that the heavily treed family property of more than 200 acres would be ideal for a golfing venture. It appears he had pretty good instincts.
With the financial and physical involvement of friends and family the project really got into full swing in early 2001 when the shovels were put into the ground. With minimal assistance from consultants but plenty of homework, the group laid out the golf course that seemed to work with the acreage set before them. Nine holes opened for play in 2002 while the full eighteen debuted in 2004. The course is open to the public, with memberships available, and all can be had for a very reasonable rate.
As could be expected the course has evolved greatly in just a short time. Derek MacDonald, the Assistant Manager at the course and Jack & Lorraines’s son, says what golfers see today is a long way from the one they opened with. “The shape was a little rough to start but you wouldn’t know that now. It’s in wonderful shape and we just keep improving that with each passing season.” He says there are always projects on the go including those this year that involve extensive clearing of brush near the edges of fairways to speed up play, more rock curbing around tee decks, and an effort to get the bunkers more uniform in condition.
While I would best describe Whitetail as a retreat into nature, that is just one of the characteristics that the staff emphasizes when people enquire about their facility. “It’s definitely going to challenge you,” says Derek. “It is a shot makers’ course; not a place where you just take out the driver and wail away. You will hit every club in your bag and there are six man made ponds ready to catch your errant shots.”
At just under 6500 yards Whitetail is not excessive in length, instead providing a blend of hole lengths that, as MacDonald states, require you to get full use of your weaponry. Two of the par five holes hover near the 600 yard length while a trio of par fours are closer to 300 yarders, making a single shot to their putting surface a possibility. With the great variety comes the knowledge that you will have to use your management skills as much as your ball striking ability to succeed.
Tumbling and twisting in just about every direction, a flat hole is a rarity at Whitetail. Unlike some courses, the elevation and direction changes were used wisely, rarely putting the golfer in too awkward of a lie. Elevated tee boxes bring views with a greater dimension and occasionally help you gain an extra yard or two off the tee.
Particularly outstanding are several holes on the back side of the course, well-balanced in their placement as the 10th, 15th, and final holes. These too, are the ones that many of the staff suggests as ones to watch – although it has to be said that making such a designation is tough with so much strength throughout the design.
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, the first couple holes make quite an impression. The opener is a mid-length par-three that requires your tee shot to carry all the way to an elevated green while also avoiding a water hazard. By the time you leave the green on the 2nd hole, a 577-yard par five, you know that this is not a course that will lay down to poor shots. It gets even more impressive as after those holes, the balance of the course moves away from the highway and works its way up and down valleys, with the clubhouse set at the pinnacle of the property.
It is from there that the tenth hole originates, one many golfers talk about long after their round is over. From an elevated perch you play down into a valley on this 362-yarder, attempting to stay short of twoponds that seriously impinge the fairway. The approach must then be played to a green set at an angle in a setting of trees and sand.After rolling through two short but tricky par four holes at 13 and 14, the 15th hole leads off a theatrical group of closing holes. The par four plays along a wetland area and up to a green that is not only slim, but sure to test your green reading ability. Your reward, no matter how you play, is the view as you look back down the fairway. It is a charismatic locale.
With no time for a breather you must then finish out on a meaty (and hilly) par five of 600 yards, a long, beautiful par three over water, and the coup de grace – a 496-yard par-five finale working its way gracefully back to the clubhouse. One thing is certain; no matter how you play you will remember the finish at Whitetail.
Beyond the golf course and serene setting Whitetail also has a lot to offer in the way of service. With Lorraine MacDonald leading the way as General Manager it is truly a cooperative operation and this resonates with the golfers. Home-spun family values shine through in the way customers are treated. They go the extra mile whether it is a full bag drop for tournaments or just the constant helping hand from staff members – ensuring that your visit is as good as it can be.
It may take a little effort to get to Whitetail (or not, if you happen to live in beautiful cottage country) but those who have made the journey know – once you make the first trip you will want to return again and again.
Jack MacDonald, Lorraine MacDonald, Don Jr. MacDonald,
Shawn McHale, Dave Moore
Golf Course Superintendent
Tees / Yardage / Rating / Slope
Blue – 6496/125/70.9
White – 6100/122/69.6
Red – 4904/115/68.7
Average Hole Lengths (Blue Tees)
Par 3’s: 169 Yards
Par 4’s: 320 Yards
Par 5’s: 557 Yards
Whitetail Golf Club
7113 Highway #60
Tel: (613) 628-3774
Toll Free: 800-280-2179