MONTEBELLO, Quebec, Canada -- At 6,308 yards, the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello Golf Club appears ripe for a birdie blitz, right?
This historic par-70 design by the legendary Stanley Thompson has a way of humbling golfers, especially those who don't understand its subtleties. There are certainly longer courses in Quebec, but not many -- if any -- better.
The former private club dating to 1929 became a resort course in 1970. Trees close in like walls to pinch narrow canted fairways. Although there are fewer than 50 bunkers, the sand still tends to lurk one bad swing away. Flat lies feel like a concept as foreign as speaking English in this French-infused culture.
Creeks and streams regularly show up unannounced, except for the intimidating in-your-face water hazard that guards the 14th green. For every forgiving elevated tee -- like the fourth leading to a tricky par 5 and the sixth on fine par 3 called "Little Ski Hill" -- there seems to be two elevated greens that counterbalance any advantage gained. The treacherous par-3 ninth hole, nicknamed "Ravine," plays as many as four clubs longer up the rocky wall to the tiny sloping green.
Throughout a round at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello Golf Club, the scenery of the Outaouais region near the Ottawa River casts a magical spell. So does the beautiful clubhouse, a miniature mirror image of the famed Fairmont, the largest log cabin hotel in the world.