Preview: Otter Creek GC (Otterville, Ont.)
Designer: Dick Kirkpatrick
Opening: July, 2008
Where is Otterville? It was my question when designer Dick Kirkpatrick asked me to come and tour his latest project. Couldn’t say I knew where it was — somewhere the other side of Hamilton, hidden in Southern Ontario at some point.
I walked the course with Kirkpatrick — who created Copetown Woods, and was the builder behind hundreds of Canadian courses over the past couple of decades — last summer, and wrote about it here. While the location may not be central, the site is quite impressive, especially as you get away from the homes and towards the more rugged areas in the south of the property.
Since the course was largely dirt when I was there — still being shaped — it was hard to determine exactly what the final form would be. The property had plenty of drama to it, and Kirkpatrick had a strong sense of the design, which had previously been attempted by Jed Azinger and Thomas McBroom. A number of creeks run through the property and though the routing had a couple of odd bits — like a walk back on 17 — it looked like it could be unique. Certainly Kirkpatrick was continuing with some of the themes we’ve seen at Copetown — including the use of some sandy waste areas, which make sense given the nature of the property.
A couple of things strike me about the website and final design. First of all, the yardages are a touch odd — 7,100 on the upper end, 6,400 for the typical men’s tees. Strikes me the sweet spot these days for yardage is around 6,800 yards, and Otter Creek’s current score card doesn’t suggest that yardage is in the mix. Could be the score card was a preliminary one, as I recall a mix of tees on the course that would suggest the yardage could easily by mixed up to set the course up around 6,500 yards.
The other question will surely be pricing. While those who seek it out — and travel from major centres like London or Hamilton — will find $55 to be a very fair value for a course of this quality, I’m not sure locals, used to inexpensive rounds, will be willing to pay this rate. With that said, I’ve only briefly discussed the business model with Kirkpatrick last year, and haven’t talked with the owners. Perhaps they know something I don’t in regards to the fee structure.
I’m sure this makes sense to someone — and given the location of the course, which is not that far from areas like Woodstock, which has experienced a lot of new jobs recently, perhaps there is enough of a population base to fill Otter Creek’s fairways.