Golfing at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello feels like stepping back in time. In fact if I wore my knickers and cap one might think it was the early days of this Stanley Thompson designed course. My afternoon at Montebello was an enjoyable and memorable golf experience. Interestingly, this is not even one of the top three of Fairmont golf properties – according to many ratings. And while ratings are subjective what I do know is that it is worth a trip to experience the Montebello course and area.
You can find my original and full review of this course at Canadian Golf Magazine. Thompson created a unique design that features the terrain, elevation changes and scenery around the Outaouais (Ottawa) River valley. The clubhouse, change room and dining area reflect the rustic feel of Montebello. A majestic log cabin dining area with a floor to ceiling fireplace is impressive. The food is very good and the service is sensational.
I love walking courses but this would have been a challenge, with extensive steep climbs and descents. The hole with the most wow factor is the par 5 4th. The drop off from the 4th tee is impressive. The course is not overly long which is a break from more contemporary design and as a mid-handicap player was welcome. As a resort course this is actually very favourable.
I loved the fact all holes, as they are at one of Thompson’s other famous design in Cape Breton, are named, As one who enjoys Thompson designed courses, the 11th hole is a beautiful golf hole with the narrow chute framing the drive well before opening to a receptive and long green. But fact is, there are many unique and beautiful golf holes here. There is an impressive diversity of golf holes which command attention and make for a unique golf experience.
Playing midweek in the afternoon created the feel of a private club as there were very few golfers playing in the cool, damp conditions. The course conditioning was very good. It remains early in the season and the course should only improve over time. Take your time to experience your round at Montebello; the history of the course, the resort and the region offers a wonderfully unique golf experience.
Aura – 8 out of 10 – I have a bias toward Stanley Thompson courses, regular readers are increasingly aware of this. And while this is not one of Fairmont’s flagship courses this is a stout course with a rich history and worthy of its own accolades.
Value (cost / experience) – 9 out of 10. I was fortunate to pay $55 for a course which is one hour outside of Ottawa with a feel like it is 75 years away from civilization. I was fortunate to play as a single and appreciated being able to take my time and enjoy the course and the clubhouse. The peak fee is $85 but you can play for as low as $40
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8 out of 10. It is early in the season which is following a long and difficult winter. The grounds crew have done a wonderful job to get the course in such great shape tee to green. My only issue resides with the challenging second hole which repelled a good drive left out of play. However, I will throw that in the vault for my next round there. Overall, the layout is simply stunning, definitely one of the stronger tracks I’ve played this year.
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – I’d return tomorrow if I could. This is a course I would love to be a member of and play regularly. It provided challenge, was fair and most importantly, fun. The staff are committed to providing a quality golf experience. It reminds me a great deal of another venerable Thompson design in Saskatchewan, Waskesiu – 8.5 out of 10