Carleton Golf And Yacht Club Turns 60

Carleton Golf and Yacht Club was established in 1963 through the vision of Mort Kalin who designed a golf course within a community. The concept of creating a community around a golf course was unique in North America and Carleton Golf was one of the first of its kind.

Originally called Rideau Carleton Golf and Yacht Club, the owners assembled two farms to create the course and adjacent housing.

A total of 240 acres was purchased and a nine-hole course, created by golf professional Bob Paluzzi and Mort Kalin, was opened in 1963. Additional land was purchased to create the second nine holes which opened in 1965. A year later, Carleton became a member-owned private club.

The original Clubhouse was a bungalow which still stands adjacent to the current putting green. The house was the pro shop and sales office and then became the home for course manager in the early years.

An aerial view of the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club in the 1960s.

The first clubhouse was built in 1964 but was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1989. The current clubhouse, built on the same foundations, opened in September 1990.  In the meantime, a tent became the dining room and a trailer became the food truck.

The Club was purchased by the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club Association in 1967and became a member-owned private course.

The Club included a swimming pool which opened in 1964 and 20 boat slips for yachts. There was also a marina building for the boat slips. The marina building was moved to the first tee in 1975 and became the pro shop. It is now the starter pavilion.

A few highlights:

Perry Como played the course at the invitation of Mort Kalin in August of 1966 and rated the greens “the finest I have ever seen”.

Legendary singer Perry Como played the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club course, and raved about the course’s greens.

The Club has hosted several championships over the years including the CPGA Ottawa Zone Spring Open, the Canadian PGA Senior Championship in 1998, 2022 and 2019, and the Canadian Junior Juvenlie Men’s Championship in 1991.

The first national tournament it hosted was the Canadian Women’s Junior Champion in 1977. Unfortunately, there was an air traffic controllers’ strike set to start the day the competitors were slated to arrive. The teams did manage to arrive – they drove from N.S., flew through the US and took a bus across the border or drove a Winnebago across country to make the tournament. The Newfoundland team flew on a Forces Jet loaned by an MP which got them to Montreal where they boarded a train for Ottawa.

 The club has held several fundraising golf events for various local charities. Of particular note was the Par Tee Fore the Cure which raised several hundred thousand dollars for the Ottawa Regional Foundation. It included a golf marathon where 4 golfers played over 100 holes. In 2011, five golfers completed 599 holes in that year’s marathon.

In 1967, the initiation fee was $300 and a family of four could enjoy golf and pool privileges for just $225 a year. By October, membership sat at 367 members. Today initiation is $3000 and a gold membership is valued at $3700 with over 700 members at the Club.

In 1972, Dutch Elm Disease took many trees down and some of them were left on the fourteenth fairway to create a berm, affectionately known as Carleton mountain.

Social activities were a big part of the Club history with amateur nights, fashion shows, steak or prime rib dinners, bridge evenings and gala evenings. In the early years, members organized the events and provided the local talent for dinners and amateur night.

The Carleton Golf and Yacht Club became a popular spot for boaters on the Rideau River.

The Club has made a few changes to the course over the years and most recently has added a patio, named Mort’s Patio, at the rear of the Clubhouse facing the Rideau River. As part of the Club’s 60th anniversary celebrations, members are creating a stone walkway to the patio using stones etched with the names of club members.

The club has a few members who have been at the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club for longer than 50 years. Doreen Keir was one of the first members and is still active in the club. She and her husband Sandy also lived in the Carleton Golf community.

She describes the early years as follows: “When we moved here, there were a few houses built here but we were the only family living here in the winter. By 1964, the Club was established and this was where we spent out time. Most of the other houses were used as cottages.”  She said the friendliness of the Club members was an important feature. She was active in organizing social events and activities, including line dancing. She is still active – at the age of 89, she led a group of members in line dancing just recently.

Ruth Sykes, 95, joined the Club with her husband over 50 years ago. She is still playing golf at the Club a couple of times a week. When asked about what she remembers most:

“Needless to say, Carleton has played a very special role in my life, especially in my retirement years. It is where I learned to play golf and where I made so many wonderful friends and where I have always felt at home.”