A beginner's guide to golf in Ottawa

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is home to the decision-makers.

If you weren't voted into office, you can focus on making birdies instead.

Ottawa's golf scene is often overshadowed by its southern sibling Toronto and other Canadian centers, but here's a rundown of courses you might want to check out the next time you're in the nation's capital.

Top public golf courses in the Ottawa area

The Marshes Golf Club is noteworthy for golf-design geeks because it was Robert Trent Jones' final signature design and was also a collaboration between the legendary architect and his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr. The result of their partnership is one of the top public-access golf courses in the Ottawa area. Be sure to hit a few balls before your round, because the 640-yard second hole -- with a water hazard along the right side from start to finish -- is a brute even if you're warmed up.

Ottawa's golf scene received a boost in 2009 with the addition of eQuinelle Golf Club in Kemptville. With a reputation for superb putting surfaces, Darrell Huxham's design is now considered a favorite among the green-fee brigade.

Across the Ottawa River but less than 30 minutes from downtown, you'll find one of Quebec's top public-welcome tracks -- Club de Golf Le Sorcier in Gatineau. With elevated tees on almost every hole, you'll feel like a big hitter on this fun track.

Have connections? Top private golf clubs around Ottawa

You know a course is steeped in history when it is officially referred to as "Royal." That's the case at The Royal Ottawa Golf Club, a shot-makers' paradise that you'll surely enjoy if you're lucky enough to score an invite. Royal Ottawa is one of just a half-dozen courses in Canada -- and 62 worldwide -- to receive a Royal designation from the British monarchs. Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club also has a rich history, with Willie Park Jr.'s design having played host to both PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events.

If your golfing buddy returned from Ottawa way back when raving about Eagle Creek Golf Club, the bad news is that the scenic setup in Dunrobin -- designed by the late Ken Venturi -- has been a members-only facility for several years.

Quebec makes for a great golf road trip from Ottawa

One trip, tee times in two provinces? Yes, please. Le Sorcier is great, but there are also plenty of reasons for golfers to venture a little farther into Quebec.

Less than an hour east of Ottawa, renowned Canadian course architect Stanley Thompson mapped out a rolling layout across the rocky terrain at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello resort.

Keep driving for about another hour -- mostly north this time -- and you'll arrive in Mont Tremblant, a touristy town in the Laurentian mountains that is a skiing hotspot in the winter and beckons golfers once the grass turns green. Mont Tremblant Resort is home to two top-notch options -- Le Geant and Le Diable -- and Le Maitre is another to add to your golf itinerary while you're there.

Off the golf course in Ottawa

You can't even say you've been to Ottawa until you've paid a visit to Parliament Hill. Among the many highlights, you can witness the changing-of-the-guard ceremony or soak up the spectacular view from the top of the Peace Tower. If possible, plan your visit around Canada Day (July 1) so you can enjoy one of the best parties in the Great White North. No matter what time of year, arrive with an empty stomach so you can enjoy the offerings from the street vendors and food trucks near Parliament Hill.

Ottawa is also home to a handful of must-see museums and galleries, headlined by the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History. The Rideau Canal is transformed into a 7.8-kilometer skating rink once the snow flies, but it's also a great setting for a stroll in the summer months.

Wes Gilbertson covers the NHL’s Calgary Flames and writes golf features for Postmedia in Calgary, Alta. When the snow melts, he's living proof that thin mountain air doesn't turn everybody into a long-drive specialist. Follow Wes on Twitter at @WesGilbertson.

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A beginner's guide to golf in Ottawa