Course review: Rideau View Country Club

Rideau View’s terrific 12th includes some of the interesting land that makes the course’s par fours stand out.

Course Review: Rideau View  (Manotick, Ont.)

Designer: Howard Watson/Robbie Robinson


Overview: Rideau View finally received some attention last year when it vaulted into SCOREGolf’s Top 100 courses list. Admittedly it was a course I didn’t know much about, other than the fact Brad Fritsch had played there growing up and the club had a reputation for developing good players. When it emerged on SCORE’s list it was the only course of the Top 100 I hadn’t played, so I arranged to take a quick flight up to the club.

I’ll start by saying it is a fine golf club – unpretentious, golf-oriented, with a terrific pro and GM. It is the kind of place that grows the game of golf. Not sure why they call it a country club — strikes me as a “golf” club where everything else is secondary.

However, like almost all of Howard Watson and Robbie Robinson’s designs (both worked for Stanley Thompson at one point) Rideau View is inconsistent. The highlights – the par fours on the back nine, including 11, 12, and 14 are varied and interesting with variety and imagination – outweigh the elements that aren’t as creative or engaging(the start of both the front and back nine). That might keep it on SCORE’s list, but always on the cusp of falling off. I’d include it on a short list of member clubs that have courses that are solid if unspectacular (see Sunningdale, Bayview, Lambton, etc.), which simply means it is a very good golf course, but not at the elite level in Canada.

The par threes — with the exception of the solid 15th — are generally a bit of a let down at Rideau View.


  • There are stretches on both the front and back nine that are exceptional, specially where the land is solid. The course is necessarily understated, and in places plain, but the par fours are where it really stands out. The two-shot holes come in groups – the 7 through 9th on the front really stand out – as do the previously mentioned 12th, 13th, and 14th. I was also partial to the short and sporty 17th, though it is on one of the flattest portions of the property.
  • There’s interesting use of “half shot” holes at Rideau View – including the 7th from the new back tee, the 9th, which has one of the most exciting and unexpected greens in all of Canadian golf, and the 12th. All three have greens that are challenging given the length of the hole.
  • Though the course starts on plain land – and ends in the same fashion – the routing builds nicely throughout the round, and is easily walkable. You start both the front and nine with relatively easy holes with elevated tee shots (uncommon at Rideau View).


Flat, uninspired land and a plain design limit some of the holes, like the second.



  • Where it is plain, many will wonder why there’s any fuss about Rideau View. The opener is wide open and bland, salvaged by a good green, and the second and third are typical doglegs of the type both Watson and Robinson used throughout their careers to navigate dull land. The motif comes back up on the 10th, another dull three-shot hole that mirrors the opener, but with more trees. I wonder if some of these could be improved with tree removal and judicious use of longer fescue grasses to add variation in aesthetic appeal.
  • The par threes at Rideau View are almost all unremarkable. The club takes some pride in its 6th hole, with its tee shot over water, but the green is plain and it is a bit of a cliché. The downhill fourth is forgettable, and the 11th s long but bland. In most instances the par threes at Rideau View are classic connectors – simply created by the architects to get them to the next tee. Only in one instance, the downhill 15th, did it feel like the hole was integral to the design.


The final tally:

I had fun at Rideau View. The course is playable, walkable and in fine condition, and the members play frequently and are passionate about the club. There’s nothing upscale about it – but it is the kind of setting one immediately feels comfortable in. The course is certainly an above average design, but one’s interest in it will largely depend on whether you fall for the two-shot holes that use the most interesting elements of the property or think the more mundane features are limiting.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

18 CommentsLeave a comment

  • THe 11th is a par 3. The 12-14 are all par fours and are called “The Soldier”. Parring all three in the same round is a challenge.

  • Robert,

    One of the most spot on reviews you’ve ever done.

    I personally like Rideau View quite a bit. As you say, where it is solid it is great, but there are some decidedly average holes.

    I do think you missed out on the 4th hole I believe(?) The dogleg right. I think the green is good and location very interesting.

  • My family and I built the back nine for Robbie in 1961 for the grand sum of $44,000.00 not including irrigation. Dick Woodward was the superintendent at the time and the club was 100% Jewish at the time. The only director I remember is Jules Loeb, whose family founded the grocery store chain of the same name. The president of the club at the time (don’t remember his name) was involved with the Bank of Canada. Good people to work for.

    • Robert, A fair and accurate review. But you didn’t critique the bunker renovation done by Ian Andrew.

      Dick, do you have any original plans, sketches or old photo’s?

  • Steve: Ian’s bunker work is fine. This isn’t a course that would be transformed by an elaborate bunker renovation.

  • No Steve, I don’t have any of the old plans and photos.

    I don’t know if Ian Andrew has access to them in the club files or not. You could ask him.

    • Dear Mr. Kirkpatrick,

      Thank you for the history on RideauView. I have one question, are you the brother of Jane Kirkpatrick?

  • Robert, I know you didn’t play the course before Ian’s renovation, but I think his work has improved our course. Specifically, the 8th, 9th, 13th and the “short and sporty” 17th. Overall, his bunker style and placement have added strategy and flare. Again, nice review.

  • Robert,
    I will start by saying that I have not played Rideau View. I do know members there who love the course and you arebangon about the quality of golfers there. I would love to invite you the next time you are in Ottawa to play at Camelot in Cumberland, Host of the 2012 Canadian Amateur. I think that most in Ottawa would agree that it is the best course in Ottawa. We too have just had a bunker renovation as well as some alterations by Tom McBroom.

  • Dear Mr. Kirkpatrick,

    Thank you for the history on RideauView. I have one question, are you the brother of Jane Kirkpatrick?

  • A few comments I think are important to make…I’ll go in order from first to eighteenth holes just to make it easy. Keep in mind I think from the perspective of the above-average player.

    The first tee shot is anything but wide for a golfer looking to reach the green in two shots. You literally cannot hit it in the right first cut and have a look at the green, and the fairway bunker to the left is in play as well.

    The sixth hole is an excellent par three, because the green runs away from you to the left. You have to hit a high soft shot to hold the green, or else hit it in the bunker behind the green or bail right into the chipping area. Add to that the fact there is water short of the green, and I’m not sure what the weakness is.

    The ninth green is terrible. There are three pin placements when the greens roll 10+ on the stimpmeter.

    The tenth is a neat par five for the longer hitter, although it was much better when there was a hazard splitting the fairway instead of just rough. Tough green to hold with a long iron or wood as well.

    My biggest problem with the review is the assertion that the 15th is the best par three. It’s actually the easiest shot of any of the par three holes, and it’s not like the green offers any resistance. So I’m curious why it’s such a notable hole. The eleventh hole, which you tout as boring, is the hardest green to hit on the entire course. The back right pin is the hardest on the whole course to get close. So, I don’t really get it.

    In sum, I actually agree with your base conclusion, which is that Rideau View is a course that can’t really sneak into the top echelon of rated courses in Canada. It’s not the National, or Shaughnessy. However, I do believe it’s the best course in the Ottawa area, and important from my perspective, the only one that could host a top-tier men’s professional event. It tests your driver with its length, and your short game with its small greens.

  • Nice input from:

    2004, 2011 Men’s Club Champion – Steve Demers

    1998 Men’s Club Champion (and PGA Tour member) Brad Fritsch

  • First class members and head pro at RVCC. Challenging track without question and should be called RVGC! don’t remember all of the holes but I always remember the stout par 4’s when I think of Rideau View, specifically the 12th.

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