From the club website:
The original Course architect was Tom Bendelow of Chicago, who at the time was a leader in the industry. The original design was subsequently amended by Willie Park Jr., winner of the British Open in 1887 and 1897.
The Royal Ottawa course is a natural, old fashioned layout, designed according to what has been called ‘the Scottish principle’, where emphasis is placed on the natural lay of the land, rather than artificially created hazards. These features are emphasized on holes number 9 and 15 which require precisely placed tee shots to be followed by Woods or Long Iron approach shots for all but the longest of hitters.
The topography is unique as it was built before the days of massive earth-moving equipment. It’s hills and dales have always been a source of both joy and frustration. The various tee positions fairly challenge all caliber of golfer. At the end of a round one will have used every club in the bag.
The greens are fast and smaller by design requiring accuracy, clubface control and skill. As examples, the first three holes of the back nine challenge the golfer to hit precise shots to the green. Number 10 is as small and well protected a green as can be found, while landing the ball in the wrong area of 11 or 12 often results in a three putt due to the slope and speed of the surfaces.