The Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club has a storied past sprinkled with dynamic individuals and events. We began prior to 1873 as Ottawa For The Hounds, an equestrian club devoted to the love of horses, horsemanship and the hunt. The events took place off Bank Street Road in the Billings Bridge area. As Ottawa expanded, a permanent home was deemed necessary. The land we’re presently on was purchased from the Upton family in 1907 and the Ottawa Hunt Limited incorporated in 1908.
In 1909 the original Clubhouse was constructed and officially opened in October by our patron Governor General Lord Grey. The ceremonies centred around horse races and equestrian prowess. These events and “the hunt” remained the Club’s focus until war broke out in 1914. The Club reverted to caretaker status from 1916 to 1919 supported by a few dedicated members with personal funds.
Following the war, with cars all the rage, we became the Ottawa Hunt and Motor Club – the horse race track giving way to motor car racing.
Golf was always on the agenda and in 1920 Willie Park Jr., perhaps the most famous golf course architect of his day was hired to design the golf course. Soil was imported by the trainload and the original 18 holes built by hand and horse teams. A tree planting program began in 1923 with over 60,000 seedlings planted, the beauty of which we enjoy today. The stables and fox kennels were converted to a pro shop.
By 1929 the Club was so popular that the Clubhouse was expanded and a ballroom added. With popularity came fame. We hosted the Canadian Open in 1932 and the Canadian Amateur in 1937. Following WWII the membership grew. With growth came further expansion. In the 1950s land was purchased to the North of the original property, 9 holes added along with an irrigation system. In 1960 the Hunt Club hosted the America’s Cup and Canadian Amateur, the latter returned in 1970.
Determined to become a four-season facility the Club added a curling rink in 1959. Curling was an immediate hit and we hosted the first Ladies Dominion Diamond D in 1961, the precursor to the Scott Tournament of Hearts.
In February 1962 tragedy struck. The Clubhouse burned to the ground. Fortunately, fire doors saved the curling rink. The membership rose to the task and a new modern Clubhouse was constructed by November the same year.
By the end of the 1980s the Clubhouse and golf course were due for an overhaul. From 1990 to 1993 a modern irrigation system was added and all 27 holes reconstructed under the direction of course architect Tomas McBroom. The Clubhouse was expanded and in a link with the past Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn opened the new course and Clubhouse.
Our reconstructed golf course caught the attention of the LPGA and in 1994 we hosted the duMaurier Ltd. Classic, at that time one of the world’s four major women’s golf events.
Pressures of a growing membership and changing social habits drove a major renovation of the Clubhouse in 2007. It was in this modern, spacious and handsomely furnished Clubhouse that the membership celebrated the Hunt Club’s 100th anniversary in 2008.
A highlight of the centennial celebrations was the CN Canadian Women’s Open. The tournament attracted 48 of the 50 top women players. Once again, our golf course won high praise. “This is the best track on tour” commented the world’s top ranked Lorena Ochoa.
A combination of problematic greens, safety concerns and a desire for an exceptional practice facility drove a rethinking of the course. A striking design by golf course architect Mike Hurdzan was chosen in 2012. The reconfiguration and reconstruction of the South and West nines and a new practice facility opened in 2015.
Our wonderful recently renovated course has attracted the professional golf world’s attention again. We look forward to hosting the LPGA Canadian Women’s Open on Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
Many notables have enjoyed and praised our exceptional course and facilities. Below are just a few from the professional golf world, world leaders, entertainers, there are many more.
Walter Hagan, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Lori Kane, Brooke Henderson, President Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Hope, Perry Como, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Cher, Alice Cooper and many of our Prime Ministers and Governor Generals.