Owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the 65,000-acre resort complex at Château Montebello lies within a heavily wooded estate on the shores of the Ottawa River. The resort’s course was once the preserve of the Seigniory Club, an exclusive organisation with a membership that included heads of state, captains of industry and even royalty.
The Canadian Golfer magazine – as quoted in James Barclay’s book, The Toronto Terror – describes its construction in 1931 by Stanley Thompson thus: “He was commissioned to build the course at an expense of some $150,000 and he built well. Out of a wilderness of rock and tree and shrub, he carved out undulating fairways and emerald-like greens… traversing ravines and valley.”
When the property was sold to Canadian Pacific Hotels in 1970, the private 18-hole layout – which is accessed from the Château by shuttlebus – became available for play to the general golfing public for the first time.
The panoramic views from the elevated tee at the par five 4th hole are a highlight on the front nine whilst, on the inward half, one of the more memorable holes is played at the par four 14th, where a tributary of the Ottawa River protects the front of the green.Connoisseurs of old-fashioned golf architecture will admire the short par fours on the card (at holes 1, 8, 10 & 12) and they will positively revel in the delights of Montebello’s five short holes, three on the outward half and two on the inward nine.
My wife and I try to play this course every year; its a nice way to spend a day, with a nice lunch at the stunning hotel. Its a great course, except for one major thing...the bunkers are terrible quality; they borderline on gravel; surprising that a Fairmont Hotel course has bunkers no better than any local $20 cheapy neglected course. Absolutely unacceptable. Other than the bunkers, it is a great and interesting course.
Le Chateau Montebello Golf Club consistently ranks in the top 100 golf courses in Canada. This stately par 70 was designed in 1929 by Canada’s legendary architect Stanley Thompson. The narrow heavily treed fairways and dramatic elevation changes offer spectacular vistas of the fall colours. The greatest stretch of holes start with the 6th, a picturesque downhill par 3 followed by the 7th, an uphill dogleg left with bunkering along both sides. However the 8th hole epitomizes the whole experience. This downhill short par 4 has a river meandering down the right side that eventually crosses in front of the green. Target golf at its’ finest requiring a strategic tee shot followed by an uphill approach to the toughest green on the course that slopes severely to the left.The 9th hole may be the most dangerous, a short straight uphill par 3 with a green that is perched on top of a cliff so don’t be short. However, if you hit it long into the bunker you are faced with an impossible sand shot since the green slopes severely from back to front and the only thing that will save your ball from heading into the abyss is a chicken wire fence (which I found out).#11 is the widest fairway on the course. #13 is another great downhill par 3 that plays longer than it looks. #14 is another short downhill par 4 with a pond that is as beautiful from the green looking back as it is from the tee.The greens are treacherous since they are fast and tilted making it tough to read the break and will definitely move more than you think. The only knock is the bunkers are shallow, stony with heavy sand. When you travel to Canada you must experience a Stanley Thompson design and this is no exception. They are majestic masterpieces that still hold their own a century later. To read more about golf in Canada visit www.golftravelandleisure.com