Course Review: Eagle Creek (Dunrobin, Ont)


Eagle Creek's opening hole.

Course: Eagle Creek Golf Club (Dunrobin, Ont)
Designer: Ken Venturi, 1991

The Scorecard: I often hear complaints from various regions that their courses are overlooked when it comes to rankings. The thought is always the same – my course (insert name here) is only overlooked because of Toronto bias and because we are located in (your pick – Calgary, New Brunswick, Ottawa, etc).
I’ve practically seen all of Score’s list, but Eagle Creek was missing. So during a recent July trip I went to see what I was missing.
Not much, it turns out. Eagle Creek is relatively flat, peppered with ponds and huge waste bunkers. It certainly has a handful of good holes, but between the overshaping and the modern features, I’m not sure I see its appeal.

The ninth hole at Eagle Creek.

• The property is both a positive and negative. Given thick woodlands, and with the land at Eagle Creek relatively flat aside from the hill where the clubhouse is set, the course is an easy walk. On the other hand, it also seemed swampy in places and I was told there are several holes that are chronically wet.
• Greens. Yes, some are a touch over the top, and often quite small for a modern course, but I quite liked most of the greens at Eagle Creek. In general I though the greensites for the course were quite good and I didn’t mind the mounding around them, unlike the fairway mounding (see bogeys).
• The closer. Okay, a risk/reward par five with a big pond is cliché, and one with a finger that sticks out into the pond has been done to death, but I still liked the closer at Eagle Creek, and though the big green with the bunker on the center of the approach worked well.

• Mounds, mounds everywhere. Tons of containment mounding on this course, right from the start and used in strange places (like the awful par five

The second at Eagle Creek -- note the strange mounding on the outside of the fairway.

second hole where the mounding is apparently designed to add definition to the outside of the fairway). In places it ruins natural holes (take the mounding between 5 and 6, for example.) Venturi may have had some skill, but he didn’t have any subtlety.
• Bunkering. There’s an odd mix of style at Eagle Creek, including massive, modern waste areas, many of which seemed to flood with rainwater, and more traditional bunkering around the greens. I didn’t mind the stuff around the greens, but the waste areas defined the course in a specific timeframe.
• Narrowness. Since it isn’t that long (I played the next-to-back deck at 6,600 yards), I wasn’t altogether surprised at how tight Eagle Creek is in places, but it really calls for one shot – the one that finds the fairway. Given the density of the trees, shots that missed would often disappear, leaving no room for recovery.

The Final Tally

Eagle Creek has often hovered in and around SCOREGolf’s Top 100.  I must admit there are other courses in the Ottawa area – Royal Ottawa, Rivermead, Ottawa Hunt – that deserve more attention and a ranking. Frankly I didn’t see the appeal of Eagle Creek. It is located a ways out of town on swampy, wet land. It is overly narrow and tricked up in spots. Sure there are some standout holes – I quite liked the downhill opener, and the 9th hole, with water down the right was solid, though something I’ve seen many times – but not enough to really make the course standout. Solid as a public course, but doesn’t stand up to the best public or private in the rest of the country.

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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.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I have played all the courses in the Ottawa area many times. I think Thompson missed the mark, maybe had a bad day. There is no way Royal Ottawa, Hunt Club compare. Rivermmead perhaps, but not as beautiful. Many in the area rate Eagle Creek as the best course in Eastern Ontario. There is a reason Score rates it high.

  • Ahhh the “must have had a bad day” comment, how original. Maybe next time proivde an argument with some thought put into it.

  • This is the 1st negative review of Eagle Creek I have seen. I would count myself as part of the group that considers Eagle Creek the best course in Ottawa. In terms of conditions and greens I have yet to play a course in Ottawa that compares (however I have not played Royal Ottawa, Ottawa Hunt or Rivermead). I have played it after significant rain, and during significant rain and have never experienced any problem holes or spots. Personally, I think that the length of the course ( i have always played it from the second back tees) and the tightness compliment one another well and if you are not hitting fairways it makes sense you are punished. With that said, it is always interesting to see someone else’s perspective. I had never considered the mounding as over doing it, but reading Thompson’s comments I can see it, even though I don’t necessarily agree with it.

  • I’m in shock after that review.
    The course is immaculate. The greens are some of the largest you will ever see.
    (Greens are the most expensive part of a course)
    The faiways are like walking on a mattress.
    All cart paths are interlocking brick. – beautiful
    “peppered with ponds and huge waste bunkers” is something a lot of golfers like to see. How can this be bad?

    BTW Dunrobin is spelled incorrectly.

  • Jim: When I look at a golf course I rarely consider the interlocking brick cart paths — golf is a game meant to be walked, which is what I did when I played Eagle Creek — and I’m not keen on fairways that are “like walking on a mattress.” Better if they didn’t quite have the cushioning characteristics of something you sleep on. Firm would be better. Finally big greens — I didn’t have a problem with them, but I wouldn’t equate the amount of money spent maintaining greens to the quality of the course. That would be a mistake, suggesting quality and size of putting surfaces is somehow related, which is clearly not the case.

  • Robert;

    With all due respect, as one who has played some of the best courses Canada has to offer, your review is a more than a tad harsh.

    At times there have been issues with green condition and drainage on this track, however in terms of design, walkability and overall enjoyment and variety, you would be hard pressed to find a better track in the Ottawa area.

    All courses face challenges a various times. The Ottawa Hunt has had big issues with its greens, Rideauview with a big reconstuction over the past few years and so on. Eagle Creek is a beautiful setting with tasteful use of natural features and conditioning that is usually above average.

    I invite you to revisit Eagle Creek and you may be surprised to find that she grows on you

  • Played eagle creek on the weekend past… and this course needs to spend some money on grooming . Some of the sand traps need fresh sand and the edges of the traps are shabby. The second cut around some of the greens have been left to grow too long. The course does not compare to other club link courses like Le maitre or Le Fontenbleau. However it is a great test of golf and the layout is challenging.

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