The Sec­ond Com­ing

Part way through its ren­o­va­tion, Chris Ber­tram of­fers his take on Le Tou­quet’s famed La Mer course.

Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

In the Con­ti­nen­tal Europe Top 100 Cour­ses rank­ing that we re­leased in Septem­ber, there were joint high-climbers; Carya in Belek and Le Tou­quet (La Mer) in North­ern France.

They rose a note­wor­thy 35 spots, but for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons. While Carya’s con­di­tion­ing is now suf­fi­ciently con­sis­tent for it to war­rant the po­si­tion its de­sign has long mer­ited, the French venue in con­trast made the no­table leap for more deep-seated rea­sons. A pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for trav­el­ling Bri­tish golfers for decades, La Mer is now be­ing man­i­festly trans­formed. To those al­ready fa­mil­iar with it, the work will be con­spic­u­ous – yet this is just the start of the restora­tion of a course built by the famed Harry Colt in 1931.

It is also likely to be merely the start of its move up our rank­ing, be­cause while code­sign­ers Pa­trice Bois­son­nas and Frank Pont must ad­here to en­vi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­i­ties, if they can pro­ceed as they wish, they could turn La Mer (which rose from No.66 to 31 this year) into a top-20 course – at the very least.

The work of Bois­son­nas and Pont, who com­bined to great ef­fect on Le Tou­quet’s neigh­bour Harde­lot (Les Pins), was essen­tial; largely as a re­sult of the area be­ing for­ti­fied and bom­barded dur­ing WW2, four of Colt’s holes were lost and trees and bushes were al­lowed to dom­i­nate and frankly ruin the beau­ti­fully raw linksland.

The ar­chi­tects have used old aerial im­ages and plans to guide an as­sid­u­ous yet sen­si­tive ren­o­vata­tion; the change be­tween our vis­its in 2014 and 2017 was stark.

Three years ago it felt like a

park­land-wood­land had been lifted and placed by the sea, which you could barely see. Now, space and views abound, ev­i­dent as early as the ma­jes­tic short 2nd, now opened up to be the hole Colt en­vis­aged.

The far end hosts the most dra­matic re­vi­sions: the 14th has a new green, the 15th (for­merly a par 3 and a short 4) is back to the sporty par 5 Colt (and his ri­val Tom Simp­son) loved, and there is a ma­jes­tic new par 3 at 16. The 17th is the next pri­or­ity and, to­gether with more tree clear­ance, La Mer will be bested by very few on the con­ti­nent.

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