Before visiting Ottawa, I had pondered if our countries capital would have a similar golf scene to Washington, D.C. whereby the clubs are plentiful and represent the high society of the city with politicians and government officials making up a large chunk of most membership rosters. When I arrived at Camelot, I was happily taken back! There was no stuffy vibe or elitist culture. What I did find was good vibes and a laid-back club — we were off to a good start.
Opening the golf course is a gentle three-shot hole gently moving to the right around a set of big bunkers off the tee.
After bending slightly to the right, the hole turns to the left, with the green tucked behind a small gully on the left. The layup revolves around how aggressive one wants to be early on, but is a well placed green location.
Following the 520-yard par 5 opening hole, the next stretch of golf is a mean welcome to the castle as if you were battling Lancelot himself at the gates of Camelot! At 442 yards, the tee shot plays up against a stream left, which I failed to capture. The approach shot then crosses the creek, electing a classic strategy of “challenge the hazard to gain an advantage on the next shot.” A hefty test of ball-striking early on, but a good golf hole nonetheless.
The third is an interesting strategy rarely seen in modern architecture, meaning some may overlook it. A short par 4 at 362 yards, this dogleg left is heavily bunkered on the inside corner.
The approach shot is best suited from the outside corner of the dogleg left, opposite of the bunkers.
This strategy of flipping the regular “inside left bunker, inside right green side bunker” is not unlike the playbook of William Flynn, who notably designed Shinnecock Hills and made renovations to Merion. Below is an illustration compare the third at Camelot against the 2nd at Rolling Green in Philadelphia. While the reverse strategy may be odd, it is unique and a welcomed change of pace from the usual architecture archetype. The red line represents the ideal line to set up an easier approach in.
The fourth is an extremely demanding par 3 at 212 yards playing over a water hazard.
The second of two par 5’s on the front nine, the 5th is a bit meatier than the 1st at 550 yards. A horde of bunkers flanks the left side of the tee shot.
The layup is interesting as well, with a centreline bunker dictating where the golfer plays to.
Like both the tee shot and layup, the green complex is well guarded as well.
Of note, the green complex is funky, with a classic McBroom side thumbprint. Overall, this is a strong par 5, and one I am fond of.
Following the spacious opening stretch, the 6th brings us back into the woods for a mean 456-yard par 4.
The tighter tee shot sets up a demanding second shot to a slightly pushed up green.
The 7th is a very solid par 3 at 202 yards with a green set below the surrounds on the right and long. You can bail out to the right and the ball may bounce towards the green, providing a bit of forgiveness and options.
The 8th, as it currently stands, is not a good hole, but it does not need to be. At 392 yards, this dogleg right demands a shot in the right side of the fairway, or even better yet, right rough to give the golfer a view of the green.
Trees crowd the left side of the fairway, growing out of the small gully. Bunkers on the left as well to further complicate things.
The tee shot ruins the hole, but the final 75 yards or so of the 8th is actually quite attractive and easy on the eyes. With some heavy tree removal up the left off the tee, this hole becomes interesting and unique.
Finishing the front nine, the 444-yard par 4, 9th is a fun tee shot from atop a ridge. The big, castle style clubhouse looms in the background.
The downhill tee shot sets up the uphill approach shot to an expansive double green.
As previously mentioned, a look at the big double green.
Like the front nine, the inward side opens with a par 5 at 581 yards. Two big bunkers guard the right hand side.
The second shot is pretty awkward with visibility hindered by trees up the right.
I quite enjoyed the look of this green complex.
There are some really interesting green contours here and likely my favourite green at Camelot.
The 196-yard par 3, 11th plays dramatically shorter than the yardage suggests. I suspect many will find this to be their favourite hole, and for good measure: it is a charming par 3.
From an elevated tee shot, the 602-yard par 5, 12th is a beautiful view of the Ottawa River, and a good chance to hit the long ball.
After successfully finding the fairway, the hole heads uphill.
The green complex is longer and narrow, and guarded by three bunkers.
Playing over the entrance road, the 421-yard par 4, 13th is a good golf hole, but difficult to understand the ideal line given the visibility.
The approach shot plays over a gully, with the green cut behind it. Anything short will likely roll back to the bottom, or find the left bunker.
Nicknamed “Merlin’s Trap,” the 14th is a 395-yard split fairway two shot hole. The left hand fairway is the more direct route, but a longer carry. The right side is the easier tee shot, but may pose a more difficult second shot in.
Bunkers guard the right side of the green on this uphill approach.
The uphill par 3, 15th brings the golfer back to the clubhouse. At 190 yards, it is longer than the yardage says. The orientation of the hole suggests a draw is best suited to find the surface.
The 16th is, well, not a good hole. The tee shot is overly tight on this 488-yard par 5, and will most likely take driver out of play. The fairway is just awkward and does not really promote creative golf.
The second shot is as narrow, but more enjoyable, and makes more sense from a strategic point of view. Moving ever-so-slightly to the right, a grouping of bunkers left, and two on the right really steer the hole to the right.
From there, the green complex is creatively situated above a gorge on the right, and below the surrounds on the left.
I was a fan of the 144-yard par 3, 17th, but I can see some not liking it as much. For modern green speeds, the contours are extremely severe, but fitting for the shot asked.
From the 18th tee, you can see the green complex and the rolling undulations.
Playing alongside the 9th, the finishing par 4 is a demanding 448-yard hole. Bunkering eats into the fairway on the right, providing a perfect climax to Camelot.
The heroic uphill approach shot is the exclamation mark on the golf course, and one where I suspect numerous matches come down to the final shot.
A fun golf course at a laid-back club, Camelot is one of Ottawa’s favourites. Much of McBroom’s work, to me, can sometimes come off as homogenous, but Camelot has enough to separate it from his catalog. Sure, it is not perfect, but some thoughtful changes would dramatically improve Camelot. For now, Camelot is a good play in the Nation’s Capital.