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France

Golf's last great secret!

The Courses

Fountainbleau

Fontainebleau

Inaugurated in 1909, Fontainebleau is one of the oldest courses in France. The golf course was designed by Tom Simpson and improved by Frederic George Hawtree and his son Martin, both English golf course designers. It is located in the Fontainebleau forest, near the town, on the ancient imperial hunting ground. Its narrow fairways are bordered with various species of trees such as pines, silver birches, wild cherries, beeches and centenary oaks. It is very well defended with 103 fine sand bunkers and also dense outcrops of brooms, lilacs, ferns and wonderful jennets. This makes the course so attractive and difficult. And, according to the seasons, a symphony of colours and smells awaits you.

Due to its sandy soil, the ground is soft and is perfectly playable at any moment, no matter how bad the weather conditions may be. Its Norman style clubhouse is decorated with tree frescoes painted by Paul Taverner, a member of the Barbizon school. A great traditional golf club, many golfers consider Fontainebleau as one of the best in Europe. In 2001 it was ranked Number 1 in France by the readers of Golf European magazine and is classed 17th in Golf World's Top Continental golf courses.

St Germain

St Germain

The Saint Germain Golf Club is located in the woodland forests of the Saint-Germain-en –Laye region near Paris and is regarded as the most beautiful course in the French capital's golf circuit. The Saint Germain Golf Club was founded in 1902 and was originally known as the Golf de l'Ermitage. Due to its original location beside the Seine flooding annually, the Club shifted base to its present location in the St Germain woods in 1920. Today, the Saint Germain Golf Club provides 27-holes of enticing golfing adventure- a magnificent 18-hole Championship course, as well as a brilliant 9-hole, par 33 Genets course.

The 18-hole Saint Germain championship course was ready for play by early 1930's and was designed by renowned English golf course architect, Harry S. Colt. The beautiful course is subtly crafted amidst the flat woodland region, surrounded by huge stands of mature oak and chestnut trees, in a classic wooded parkland styled course layout. It winds its way across the flat terrain with a well-conditioned course layout. The wide greens are well-trimmed and quick. The vast, slightly undulating, tree-lined fairways are bounded by crafty sand bunkers; along with the roughs, obstacles and native forest vegetation, to make the Saint Germain course a true challenging championship course. The grand (new) wooded clubhouse of the Saint Germain Golf Club replaced the original one after a fire destroyed it in 1952.

Chantilly

Chantilly

The Chantilly Golf Club is situated in the famous golfing circuit of the Chantilly region of Ile de France. The Club consists of two beautiful, 18 hole courses, namely the Vineuil and the Longeres. The Vineuil Course of the Chantilly Golf Club was designed by renowned British architect Tom Simpson and was opened in 1908. The club, over the years, under the guidance of its president, Baron Eduard de Rothschild, saw it being restored into a wonderful golfing venue.

The 6396 metres, Par 71, Chantilly Vineuil Golf Course consists of a magnificently crafted parkland style course. Created amidst the natural bushlands setting, it has classic greens, neat rolling fairways and tricky bunkers. The masterpiece course was upgraded from 18 to 36 holes over the years, still retaining the traditional and original theme of Simpson. The Vineuil Course of the Chantilly Golf Club also consists of a grand Clubhouse that possesses the rich heritage and warmth of France's Chantilly area. The picturesque natural surroundings offer tranquillity and peace combining into a wonderful golfing experience.

Hardelot Le Pins

Hardelot (Le Pins)

Hardelot Les Pins Golf course was built in 1905 by Tom Simpson and was extensively redesigned in 1931 by the original architect. To date it still bears witness to the classical era of British Golf architecture. Laid out in a beautiful forest it epitomizes a style which has been gratefully inherited by several generations of golfers. Hardelot Golf Club has an extraordinary layout as its 2 golf courses are located at different sides of the town. Separated by only 1km both are very accessible from the town centre.

There is a warm and friendly clubhouse where you can recount the best shots of the day over a drink on the balcony or by the welcoming fire place or whilst savouring a meal in the relaxing restaurant. Hardelot earned its name as a holiday destination in the early years of the 20th century, during the Entente Cordiale, when aristocratic and other distinguished British and French visitors would meet there. Nowadays, newly built motorways and the Channel Tunnel have substantially reduced travel time to this Pas de Calais resort which, along with the neighbouring town of Le Touquet, has remained a premier sports and relaxation venue.

Le Touquet La Mer

Le Touquet (La Mer)

Le Touquet offers the unique ambiance of a French resort while preserving the lingering atmosphere inherited from its British founding fathers at the turn of the twentieth century. It is therefore not a great surprise that Le Touquet has become a favorite golf destination. The famous "La Mer" course is reminiscent of a Scottish links, while the "La Foret" course is beautifully set among pine trees. Le Touquet is also a year round family resort, boasting horseback riding, tennis and unrivalled seaside activities. Situated on the coast, and around 38 miles South of Calais, Le Touquet has become as fashionable as the Riviera in the 1930's, when Noel Coward, P G Wodehouse and others entertained in villas amongst the pinewoods, and luxury hotels were then built in abundance.

The grand La Mer course was originally designed the legendary by Harry Colt and was inaugurated more recently in 1931. This golf course can be likened to a genuine Scottish links and has been chosen on several occasions for the French Open and the Amateur Championships of France. Recently voted in the Top 100 courses in Europe it offers golfers a magnificent landscape that is mainly sculpted around the rugged and wind-swept dunes of the Coast. The fast greens along with the heather & gorse make this a must for all golfers.Royal St George

Royal St George's– #29 in 2013 Golf Magazine's World Top 100

The host of 12 Open Championships was founded in 1887 and is one of the most famous and most difficult golf courses in the world - it provides a great test of true links golf. Highlights from those 12 Opens include:

1894 - The first time the Open was played south of the Scottish border! The field included names now embedded in the mythology of golf - Harry Vardon , James Braid, JH Taylor & Willie Park Jr. Taylor won .

1993 - One of the great Opens with the most thrilling last day imaginable. Greg Norman had a narrow lead over Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer at the start of the final round. They traded birdies with Norman holding a 2 shot lead until the 17'Th where he missed a putt of less than 12 inches! A safe 4 down the 18'Th produced a round of 64, the best ever final round to win an Open Championship.

Royal Cinque Ports

Royal Cinque Ports- A genuine "Hidden Gem"

Here's Greg Gilson's report after playing RCP for the first time:

"How can a club that has hosted 2 Opens (1909 & 1920) be classed a hidden gem? A lack of self-promotion, a prettier sister next door & an unfair reputation as the world's best ugly course are probably the main reasons. Deal, as this club is often known, is 90 minutes from London and a relatively close neighbour of Rye, Princes and Royal St Georges. Make no mistake; this is a fantastic golf course with rock hard fairways bordered by seaside grasses as well as deep pot and riveted face bunkers. It is a traditional out & back layout where the last 7 holes typically play straight back into the prevailing wind. The wind came from that direction (at around 5 club strength) on the day Andrew Bertram and I played with a local junior. Despite the challenging course & conditions it may have been the most fun I had without a Guinness in my hand the entire trip.

Interestingly, Deal was to host the 1949 Open but the course was flooded by a breach in the sea wall that runs along the right hand side of most of the front nine. The worst kept secret at the club these days is that they are talking to the R & A about hosting the 2018 event. New tees are being considered on top of, below and beyond that sea wall that was broached 60 years ago. I understand, without necessarily agreeing, why some of the older Open venues are no longer considered "appropriate" for our sport's biggest event. However, if The Open returns to Deal after almost 100 years it will give a great account of itself and make us all wonder why it took so long. Tiger and his mates will find everything you could ask for in a round of links golf- drive-able par 4's (the 6'Th), burns, roads and some incredible green complexes (including dells, punchbowls and a wonderful fortress at the tumbling par 5 16'th). It won't take another century to return again. I can't wait. "