Quick Book

Golf In France

The first organised golf club in France was founded at Pau in 1856 when it’s thought that Scottish officers in Wellington’s army were responsible for setting out a short course close to their barracks, thus establishing the oldest golfing layout in Continental Europe.

Of course, La Chôle has been played in northern France since the 12th century but this golf-like pursuit of hitting a solid, wooden ball with a single club towards a wooden stake differs from the Royal & ancient game in one vital aspect – there’s no hole in the ground for the ball to disappear into.

Nowadays, French golf has developed to the extent that there are almost 400,000 registered golfers in the country, with around 560 courses in play. Even with golf’s ever-increasing popularity in the modern era, it’s still hard to believe the Golf National L’Albatros course near Paris will be hosting the Ryder Cup in 2018 – incroyable!

WHERE TO PLAY IN FRANCE

Where to play in France

Whilst a number of the top French courses – like Morfontaine, Les Bordes and Prince de Provence – are very private and only accessible to members and invited guests, there are many other top tracks around the country where casual golfers are welcome to play.

For instance, the old Tom Simpson-designed Vineuil 18-hole layout at Chantilly, located one-hour’s drive north of Paris city centre, can be accessed on weekday afternoons. To the south of the capital, 30 kilometres from Orléans, the recently renovated golf facility at les Aisses is well worth investigating. In the southeast of France, the Château layout at the Terre Blanche resort in Provence is a Dave Thomas-designed track of the highest order. Further west, both the Chateâux and Vignes courses at the 36-hole Médoc resort near Bordeaux offer players a very fair test.

​ In the same area, the new Tom Doak design at Grand Saint-Emilionnais is not long opened but it’s already attracting plenty of praise for its understated elegance and minimalist charm.

Le Touquet

Le Mer

La Mer

Designed by Harry Colt in 1931, the links course at La Mer has had major rennovations carried out on it a number of times down the years but the recent work of Frank Pont and Patrice Boissonnas to restore this old masterpiece has been well received by those who have seen the end results.

The course has hosted 6 French Opens, the last of which was won by Seve Ballesteros in 1977. With holes routed through coastal dunes and fairways leading to firm and fast putting surfaces, this is a links layout fit to test the best – just how Sam Torrance managed to set the course record of 63 is anybody’s guess.

The Top 100 Golf Courses website currently ranks this course at number 56 in its European Top 100 table, which is as good an indicator as any of the quality of this design. Don’t expect to play holiday golf if you tee it up here but by all means anticipate a thrilling round of golf on this rejuvenated track.

La Mer measures 6,420 metres, playing to a par of 72.

LA FORÊT

La Forêt

La Forêt predates the La Mer course by 27 years, having been laid out by Horace Hutchison in 1904. It’s an excellent complement to the more highly regarded La Mer and another 9-hole course called “Le Manoir” (2,634 metres and playing to a par of 35) is set within the routing of this course.

Laid out within a lovely wooded landscape, as might be predicted from its name, La Forêt offers golfers a rather tranquil place to play, with mature pine trees affording shelter from the wind that normally buffets this section of coastline in the Pas-de-Calais department.

The course has been modified recently as part of an overall upgrade project at Le Touquet. In particular, the second hardest hole, the 8th, was softened to make it a little fairer and new greens were installed at the par 5 11th and 14th holes so golfers can’t blame the course now for a poor score!

La Forêt measures 5,774 metres, playing to a par of 71.

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Hardelot​

Les Pins

Les Pins

Originally installed in 1905 when the golf club was founded, Les Pins was redesigned by Tom Simpson in the early 1930s and it occupies a glorious setting, set amongst the dunes and pine forests that stretch out along that particular part of the Pas-de-Calais coastline.

Precision, rather than distance, is what’s required to score well on this course, where tree-lined fairways weave their way across a free-draining, sandy landscape that’s reminiscent of some of the heathland properties located around the Berkshire and Surrey areas in England.

The course has recently undergone an extensive upgrade, with respected designer Frank Pont and Patrice Boissonas of Open Golf Club, the company that operates Hardelot, using old photos and drawings to help restore the course’s original design values.

Thousands of trees have been removed, greens enlarged, fairways widened and bunkers rebuilt in an attempt to honour Simpson’s artistic vision and create a stronger, more strategic test of golf.

Les Pins measures 5,877 metres, playing to a par of 72.

Les Dunes

Les Dunes

Located a kilometre or so from Les Pins, the course at Les Dunes is an early 1990s creation from Belgian architect Paul Rolin and it’s set out in very similar sandy terrain to that of its esteemed older sibling. A number of blind shots and doglegged holes need to be negotiated during a round here so it’s a course that might need more than one play in order to post a decent score.

Though the fairways are generally wide and inviting, it’s line, not length that’s important on this course, especially with tee shots, where the angle of attack for the approach shot is critical. Greenside bunkering and subtle borrows on the putting surfaces are also worth paying close attention to.

The right doglegged 9th and left doglegged 12th are 2 of the toughest par 4 holes on the scorecard but look out for the 166-metre 15th as it’s rated stroke index 2, which is rather unusual for a medium-length par 3 hole.

Les Dunes measures 5,193 metres, playing to a par of 69.

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Belle Dune

BELLE DUNE

Golf de Belle Dune opened for play in 1992 so it’s still a relative newcomer on the French golf scene. Designed by Jean-Manuel Rossi, the course lies on the Côte d’Opale in the Somme area, the southernmost in a triumvirate that also includes Hardelot and Le Touquet.

Eric Baledent, the club’s Director of Golf, extends the following invitation to visiting golfers: “Play in the dunes!” Nestling in the most beautiful area of dunes in Europe, Belle Dune has a reputation as one of the best golfing destinations around. Inspired by the traditional Scottish and Irish links, its greens seem to melt into the landscape. Here, environmental protection is an absolute principle: exemplary maintenance throughout all 12 months of the year ensures respect for the ecosystem.

Around the 18-hole course you will come across maritime pines, pass pale dunes planted with marram grass, and perhaps encounter a roe deer or pheasant, while benefiting as much from the beauty of the site as from the technical challenge of the course, a quality recognised by seasoned players.

Belle Dune measures 5,883 metres, playing to a par of 71.

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Wimereux

WIMEREUX

Wimereux measures 6,179 metres, playing to a par of 72.

The course at Wimereux dates back to 1901 but Guy Campbell and Cecil Hutchinson were asked to redesign the layout after World War I. Unfortunately, the course and clubhouse were badly damaged during World War II and the club didn’t reopen for business until the mid-1950s.

Today, a round here starts and ends with a testing par five and in between these opening and closing holes, there’s plenty to keep golfers occupied, with fairways laid out on a finger of linksland that juts out slightly into the English Channel.

One of the top contributing French reviewers on the Top 100 Golf Courses website thinks the course is ”the only real links in that part of France” and he described his game here as “the most fun I have had in a long time… Give it a try and find out for yourself.”

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Le Boulie

LA BOULIE (LA VALLEÉ)

La Boulie (La Vallée) measures 5,995 metres, playing to a par of 72.

There are 3 courses laid out within Racing Club de France’s magnificent 265-acre property at La Boulie: 18-hole layouts at La Vallée and La Forêt and a 9-hole track called Le Coteau. By far and away the most important of these three is La Vallée, which Willie Park Jnr redesigned at the end of the 19th century.

It was here that Arnaud Massy won the first French Open in 1906 and the premier national golfing event was held at La Boulie on a further eighteen occasions, the last of which was in 1986. The Canada Cup was also contested at La Vallée in 1963, as was the prestigious Eisenhower Trophy in 1994.

Nowadays, the course is too short to test elite amateur or professional players but it’s still a thrill to be able to tread the same tree-lined fairways where JH Taylor, James Braid and Walter Hagan once walked on their way to claiming the French Open in years gone by.

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National

NATIONAL (L’ALBATROS)

National (L’Albatros) measures 6,718 metres, playing to a par of 72.

The Golf National complex is part of the European Tour Properties network of golf facilities, boasting 2 18-hole courses (L’Albatros and Aigle) and a 9-hole layout, named Oiselet. Co-designed by Robert von Haage and Hubert Chesneau, L’Albatros is a big, brash layout that debuted in 1990.

Plenty of earth was moved during construction to create spectator mounding and several lakes, so good course management is critical here. The large, well-bunkered greens are particularly challenging and their proximity to many of the water hazards adds an additional premium to accurate approach play.

The course hosts the Ryder Cup in 2018, when the European and Unites States teams contest the 42nd series of biennial matches between the 2 sides. It’s always a pleasure to tee it up where the world’s best golfers play but don’t expect to overpower a long, demanding course that’s set up to challenge the most accomplished players.

Course information & facilities

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​​​ WE'RE AWARD WINNING​​

It’s always a proud moment when you’re recognised for your good work, we’re honoured to have been named again as the World and Europe's Leading Ferry Operator 2016 at the World Travel Awards. We have been Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator for 5 years running now, and the World’s Leading Ferry Operator for 6 years. ​​​

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