Rideau View’s first hole, a par-5, is into the prevailing wind. There’s lots of room to hit your ball with the first shot of the day. For the average handicapper, it’s fairly easy to avoid the bunkers and the trees. The more talented player can challenge the trees on the right and perhaps set up a chance to go for the green in two. The difficulty likes with a very small green, one of the smallest on the course, and it is very well guarded. Generally speaking, it’s an easy 5 and a challenging 4; a bit of a warm introduction for what lies ahead.
Though it plays into the wind, the second hole continues to ease you into your round. The bunkers on the inside of the slight dogleg left can be avoided by golfers of all abilities. The green is fairly large with subtle breaks and gives the player the first taste of the challenge of Rideau View’s greens: the putting surfaces look flat; the challenge is in their subtlety. The middle of the green is golden here, as it is on many holes at Rideau View.
This is not the place to be a hero off the tee. Get it somewhere in the fairway. If you hit it towards the bunkers, with not enough club to make the bunkers, there’s lots of room to hit the fairway. The farther right you go, the less room. The second shot is difficult into a severely sloping green. Every pin placement here is challenging. Many rounds are ruined on this hole. It’s a brilliant 3; a great par and sometimes 5 is not a bad score. Few players will forget playing this hole; many would like to.
The first par-3. You have to deal with a left right crosswind with a bunker short and right. That front right bunker is perfectly placed because with a left to right wind, if you come off the ball a little bit, it’s going to shorten the shot and move it right. That bunker gets a lot of play.
The cadence of the front nine is ease into it and 5, 6, 7 is where you can lose it. The place to not give any strokes away are 1, 2, 4 and 8. You have to par those holes because you might give them back on 5, 6 and 7.
A long par-4 into the wind, this starts a stretch of three very challenging holes. You can’t make your round in this stretch, but you can lose it. For all class of players, this demands a tee shot that avoids bunkers left and right off the tee. The second is a long approach and between the wind and the length, 3 is a fantastic score, 4 is great, 5 is okay.
Most players will be hitting a mid to a long iron to carry a pond that fronts the green and into a difficult right to left headwind. The green presents an awkward profile to the line of play, sloping from back right to front left. There can be some extremely difficult reads. Getting to the green is one thing; once there, the golfer’s job is far from done. Executing a two-putt or crafting an up-and-down is not for the faint of heart.
A bold tee shot over the bunkers that guard the inside of the dogleg will reward the player with a shorter approach, but I’m not sure the reward is worth the risk. If you haven’t figure it out already, the test here again is trying to solve the mysteries of another deceptively sloped green.
Number 8, I think, is one of my favourite par-4s on the golf course. It’s a shortish par-4, the landing area guarded by bunkers right and left off the tee. This hole is another example of how the game at Rideau View is within 120 feet from the centre of the green. It’s a very tricky green, coming at you from back to front and the more forward the pin position, the more severe the slope. Depending on where the hole, is this can be a birdie opportunity or hang on to save par.
This is my absolutely favourite hole on the golf course. It demands precision off the tee to get the right angle into the green. The hole plays downwind, but uphill to the green, so there are a lot of factors to be considered when it comes to club selection. That’s what makes it such a brilliant hole. The green steps down the hill with several plateaus and depending on the hole location, putts from above the hole cannot be made. Par is a great score; sometimes 5 is a relief.
The Par-5 opening act on the back nine affords the talented player a great scoring opportunity if the tee shot avoids the bunkers on the left and the trees that menace the right side of this slight dog leg right. The green is slightly elevated and slopes ever so slightly from front to back. Only a very well played second shot can hold this green and set up an eagle attempt. A great opportunity to get the inward nine off to a good start, but this hole can jump up and burn a player who lets the guard down.
This par-3 is Rideau View’s most underrated hole and kick starts a stretch of holes that really define the character of Rideau View. The hole demands a mid- to long-iron tee shot into a left-right crosswind. It’s a very well protected green with the bunker at the front right getting its fair share of errant shots. Par is a great score here.
During the 1995 Canadian PGA Championship, Canadian pro Tom Jackson’s turn of phrase christened the demanding stretch of three holes which starts here at the par-4 12th. After grinding out three pars, he said: “That’s like being a soldier. That’s like boot camp.” Since then this stretch has been known as “The Soldier.” It’s five bucks a man. You have to play them even or under-par with no bogeys to collect.
The 13th, the second hold of The Soldier, is nothing short of majestic. This is one of the best par-4s in the Ottawa Valley. It lays right out in front of you. The lines, the elevation changes, how obvious are all the challenges right in front of you. You know exactly what your job is when you stand on the tee.
After having everything right in front of you on 13, 14 plays a game of hide and seek. You can’t really see the shape of the hole from the tee. You can’t see the landing area. You can’t see the slopes. You knows there are bunkers out there, but can’t really see all of them. You know that a good tee shot is left, but you can’t tell how far left; all you see is trees and the rough. It requires great concentration off the tee because you have to line yourself up with a target and that’s one of the biggest challenges for a golfer. There’s no obvious target here. With experience, you realize the front left bunker is the target. There’s a wicked false front and breaks you just can’t read. It’s another green typical of Rideau View which says to you, “Oh, so you think I’m flat?”
This par-3 is all about the wind. You’re playing into the wind and you’re elevated. There’s nothing worse than hitting a tee shot from an elevated tee into the wind because you don’t know how much it’s going to affect the ball. The front right bunker, the favourite collection area for mishit tees shots, is probably the deepest bunker on the golf course.
This par-5 starts a closing stretch where, for the better players, it’s the only place on the golf course where a 4-3-4 birdie stretch is a possibility. It’s the only stretch where you could hit three wedges into each of the final three greens. If somebody has lost strokes on The Soldier, they can get them back here. This a drive, position the second shot to avoid the hazard that crosses the fairway short of the green, wedge, one putt, thank you.
If you haven’t already figured it out, the 17th sums up what is at the core of Rideau View’s challenge: it’s all about the green. 17 takes it to another level. This is a short par-4 and a good drive can set you up for another wedge approach. There’s two ways to play it off the tee: challenge the bunkers or the average player can play safe short of trouble which takes the form of bunkers that flank the fairway.
This is another push up green and the shape of the greenside bunkers adds to the optical illusion that this green is more elevated than it really is.
Once you’re on the putting surface remember the saying Rideau View members have been whispering o themselves for years when reading their putt: “There is no break on old No. 8.”
The final act is just a perfect finishing hole. Two of the prettiest holes off the tee on the golf course are 13 and 18. Usually into the setting sun, into an elevated green framed by the patio, beautiful waterfall bunkering on the left. Off the tee if you hit a short, right tee shot it’s going in that guaranteed spot: you’re in that bunker. This might be one of the smallest greens on the golf course and if you’re hitting anything but a short iron in here, you’re challenged.