Making Time For Nine in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec

Rideau Lakes G&CC, Photo: Scott MacLeod

(As a follow-up to our recent Flagstick Podcast that also explored the topic, we thought we would re-share this story from 2020)

For the last twenty-five years, we have brought you profiles of more than 150 golf courses around the Eastern Ontario region. We’re a region of Canada that is rich when it comes to golf. Not only in the history of the game (both Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada have their roots here) but also within the number of facilities we have where you can play the game.

Golf visitors to the region are often shocked by the depth of the courses we must choose from, and not just the traditional eighteen hole “standard” ones.

Often overlooked are the nine holes golf courses so we thought we would shine a spotlight on them.

They are the backbone of the game. The 2017 Golf In Canada Facilities Report lists 2,298 golf courses across our nation. Among them are 838 nine-hole layouts, 231 of those in Ontario and 88 in Quebec. Historically, many of the courses with 18 holes or more began with nine holes, expanded as demand grew.

Nine-hole golf course come in various forms, some are “executive-length”, some are full length, while others are made up of par threes. Some supplement other courses on the same property. All serve a purpose and a market. You’ll find them in urban and rural areas, being played by top amateurs, emerging golfers, raw beginners, and juniors.

The nine-hole course has also gained a greater appreciation by many in an era where time has become a precious commodity. With lives more filled than ever with all sorts of publications, the nine-hole course still allows you to stay connected to a game your love, but able to do it with less clock commitment.

“I love playing a quick nine holes in the evening with my son; it does not take up the whole day and you can just slip out after dinner,” a reader conveyed to us on social media in a discussion on nine-hole golf.

Another reader took on a common misconception about the nine-hole game. “I always grew up thinking a round of golf was eighteen holes but once I realized that I did not have to make a choice between playing no holes or eighteen holes, that I could enjoy the game as much playing nine, I learned to appreciate it.”

Luckily in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, we have a wealth of nine-hole options. We often hear from people seeking out a “smaller course” so we thought we would focus on a few of the offerings in the region (but be sure to look for and explore the others). You might be surprised to find out that they are some of the most enjoyable places to play, with no less attention paid to design or conditioning.

We have plenty of examples to choose from but looking across the region I’ll pick out just a couple that illustrates that this form of golf can encompass all you need to enjoy the sport – a rich history, a picturesque setting, a test of your skills, and the social accouterments that many of us appreciate as a key part of the sport.

On the edge of Gatineau Park, in Chelsea, Quebec, you will find the historic Larrimac Golf and Tennis Club. Founded in 1924 this course is open to the public and a visit to this club will tell you that it is a real community of like-minded people. The club is not only a place for sporting activities, but it is a social hub as well.

On the course itself, you will find holes that take advantage of a naturally rolling terrain. A “soft” opener in a 260-yard par four may give you the confidence of a birdie opportunity but two holes later the 223-yard, par three, third hole will remind you that this course is no pushover.

By the time you are done, you’ll appreciate the embrace of the clubhouse verandah and the magnificent views.

In essence, that is what golf is all about for many people.

On top of this people should not dismiss nine-hole courses as a place simply for a beginner and no place to develop your skills.

Over in Ontario, near Westport, sits the Rideau Lakes Golf and Country Club. Impeccably conditioned and boasting views of Upper Rideau Lake, the beauty of the course, especially in morning and evening light that accents its undulations, is undeniable.

The club also has a history of many club professionals cutting their teeth at the course, and a couple touring professionals as well. With a family cottage nearby this is where Brittany and Brooke Henderson first came to the game. And most are aware of what they have achieved it golf.

They return regularly to play the course.

If it’s good enough for them then no other golfers need to dismiss it for not being a full eighteen (although you can play alternate tees on a second nine).

Sure, no one golf course can be everything to every golfer but when you consider playing a game in the Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec Regions this year, don’t forget about our nine-hole golf courses. There are more than 30 of them in the area and they are a joy to play.

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