- Lee Cooper
France - many of the finest courses in Continental Europe
France has often flown under the radar as a golf destination, despite being home to many of the finest courses in Continental Europe. That’s all changed thanks to the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National which showcased the fabulous country to the eyes of the golfing world. With fabulous food and wine, beautiful landscapes and iconic cities, France really does have it all.
We count down the top ten courses in the country:
10. Le Kempferhof Golf Club
Ranks 10th in France and 39th in Continental Europe.
Situated just outside Strasbourg, Le Kemperhof is home to an outstanding Robert van Hagge design. Set against the backdrop of the 18th Century chateau hotel, which also doubles as a clubhouse, the course is bestowed a beautiful setting along the banks of the Rhine.
While Kemperhof feels like it could have been there for centuries, the layout only opened for play in 1990. Since then it has received numerous accolades and there is no disputing the layout is among the finest in France. The course also features a highly-respected golf academy.
9. Golf de Saint Germain
Ranks 9th in France and 27th in Continental Europe.
Golf de Saint Germain
Another of Continental Europe’s top courses, Saint Germain is a delightful parkland course. Designed by the great Harry Colt, Golf De Saint Germain has hosted the French Open on several occasions. The most recent winner here was Seve Ballesteros who shot a course record 62 on route to victory.
With every hole playing through a funnel of trees, this is a course that rewards strategic thinking. To play well you must avoid the avenues of trees that line every hole and the cleverly positioned bunkers that guard the greens.
Be sure to warm up at the club’s fantastic practice facilities before taking on this unmissable gem.
8. The Chateaux Course at Golf du Médoc Resort
Ranks 8th in France and 23rd in Continental Europe.
Located in the heart of French’s wine country, Golf du Medoc is akin to the very finest vintage. Current host to the Ladies European Tour, the Châteaux Course is somewhat of an anomaly in the area, an inland links bursting with heather, broom and gorse.
The first and only Bill Coore design in Europe, the Chateaux is a long course, particularly given that there are only two par-five’s on the card. It is unquestionably a beautiful test, and complemented by the Les Vignes Course, is one of the finest destinations for a golf trip in the South of France.
7. Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort – Le Château
The Chateau course ranks 7th in France and 19th in Continental Europe.
As locations go, you couldn’t get much better than Terre Blanche. Situated on the edge of the French Riviera, the two Dave Thomas courses, Le Chateau and Le Riou, enjoy 300 days a year sunshine.
A true golfer’s heaven, the Chateau is consistently ranked among France’s top ten golf courses. It’s easy to see why. Opened to much acclaim in 2000, the undulating course stands out for its spectacular water features and immaculate year-round condition. Carving its way through dense woodland, the Chateau is a course that requires brains, not brawn.
Le Riou, whilst not reaching the same standard as its sister course, is also a great track, and plays host to an annual LET Access Tour event. This course offers great views of the nearby Provencal villages. Strategy again takes precedence, with the undulating terrain sure to test your shot-making abilities. Although the easier of the two courses, Le Riou is certainly no push over. It is, however, a lot of fun to play!
6. Le Golf National
Ranks 6th in France and 17th in Continental Europe.
Le Golf National is about to become the centre of the golfing world’s attention and there is no doubting that the Parisian heavyweight is fitting of the occasion. Once a rubbish dump, Le Golf National has risen to become France’s premier golf destination.
The long-time home of the French Open, the 2018 Ryder Cup appears built-ready to host the trans-Atlantic event. The closing holes are built in a stadium-like bowl with water lining the fairways over the closing stretch. Expect plenty of drama come Sunday.
5. Vidauban Golf Club
Ranks 5th in France and 16th in Continental Europe.
Many of France’s best layouts can be exclusive and that’s also the case at Vidauban. The beautiful venue in the South of France, captured the attention of Robert Trent Jones Snr in the 70’s and become a project of the famed golf course designer and his son (Robert Trent Jones Jr.).
Finally opened for play in the 1990’s, the course meanders its way through vineyards, rocky outcrops and wizened pines. Those who lucky enough to play Vidauban describe it as one the best courses in Europe.
4. Golf de Fontainebleau
Ranks 4th in France and 12th in Continental Europe.
An exclusive member’s club, Golf de Fontainebleau is a charming course set within a magnificent ancient forest. Close to Paris and in an area of great historical importance, getting a tee time on this timeless classic can prove difficult. Make it to the first tee however and you will be treated to one of the finest courses in Continental Europe.
Designed by Tom Simpson, the mastermind behind several of the country’s top courses, Fontainebleau is reminiscent of a traditional English heathland layout. Devilish bunkers, thick pine forests that line the fairways, and small, challenging greens ensure this Parisian gem will serve up an unforgettable round of golf.
3. Golf de Chantilly
Ranks 3rd in France and 6th in Continental Europe.
Golf de Chantilly
Tom Simpson would leave his mark on several of France’s top courses. Perhaps he’s greatest legacy would be his work at Golf de Chantilly, a beautiful parkland course located 30 miles north of Paris. With a traditional English-styled clubhouse, and a classic tree-lined test, Golf de Chantilly may leave you wondering whether you’ve inadvertently arrived in the UK.
In other ways however, the club is distinctly French and there’s no disputing that Le Vineuil is one of the best courses in France. Chantilly is an exacting test, with several long tree-lined par-four’s and almost no let-up off the tee.
2. Morfontaine Golf Club
Ranks 2nd in France and Continental Europe and 98th in the World.
Golf de Morfontaine
This delightful heathland design is as exclusive as it gets. Only the lucky few ever have the opportunity to walk its sacred fairways. A beautiful Tom Simpson design, Morfontaine has recently been given the Kyle Phillips treatment and lengthened to ensure it remains as tough a test as it was intended a century ago. The course would not look out of place on the sacred tract that houses Sunningdale and Walton Heath. It is a delightful course built amid a forest and littered with a flurry of heather.
1. Les Bordes
Ranks 1st in France and Continental Europe and 70th in the World.
The realm of just the lucky few, Les Bordes is one of the most exclusive venues in Europe. Those bestowed the honour of playing here will be treated to a masterpiece in golf course design. Baron Bich, AKA Mr Biro, was the brainchild behind the prestigious venue, which is built on his private shooting range in the Sologne, near Paris.
Designed by Robert von Hagge it’s perhaps little surprise that the course is of the very highest level. The conditioning is sublime and the challenge is second to none. The course is so tough that Bich had a set of forward tees specifically built for himself so he could navigate the formidable challenge.