BRIT­TANY & NOR­MANDY

Eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and boast­ing no fewer than 50 cour­ses , the re­gions of Nor­mandy and Brit­tany have plenty to of­fer the trav­el­ling golfer.

Golf World (UK) - - BRITTANY & NORMANDY -

Eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble via fer­ries to Saint-Malo and Roscoff and reg­u­lar flight routes into a num­ber of air­ports, most Bri­tish golfers’ first taste of French golf will come on the Opal Coast. And with good rea­son. All too of­ten over­shad­owed by the cap­i­tal an hour south and the sun­shine of the French Riviera, France’s north­ern corner de­serves deeper ex­plo­ration. In many ways, what you will find is oddly fa­mil­iar. With its gen­tly un­du­lat­ing ter­rain rolling over lush mead­ows, ru­ral farm­land and rolling coastal dunes, Nor­mandy has the feel of Devon, a re­gion of grand, dra­matic coastal land­scapes, while the crag­gier, harsher-edges and undis­cov­ered feel of Brit­tany bear com­par­i­son with the land­scape of Corn­wall. Imag­ine both blessed with a more cle­ment cli­mate than we en­joy, cour­tesy of the Gulf Stream, and you have a com­pelling rea­son to visit, play and ex­plore.

Brit­tany

If you’re vis­it­ing the re­gion by car – highly ad­vis­able, given how con­ve­nient it is to do so – one of the eas­i­est ways in is via Calais, just over 90 min­utes by ferry across the Strait of Dover. Alight on French soil and you’ll soon dis­cover that Brit­tany is blessed with three coast­lines, a va­ri­ety of dra­matic coastal land­scapes, nu­mer­ous fine peb­bly beaches and plenty of very good golf. That golf takes sec­ond billing to those beaches for most vis­i­tors is no bad things – the cour­ses are usu­ally un­crowded and the green fees af­ford­able.

St Malo Hô­tel, Golf & Coun­try Club, Pléneuf-Val-An­dré, Di­nard Golf and Golf des Ormes are four of the re­gion’s stand­outs. The up­mar­ket St Malo is a fine ex­am­ple of the new gen­er­a­tion of French golf clubs, a sprawl­ing af­fair

whose prin­ci­pal 18-hole park­land Sur­couf course cov­ers 250 acres of land on the edge of the Mes­nil for­est and bor­ders the pic­turesque Mir­loup Lake. De­signed by Hu­bert Ch­es­neau, ar­chi­tect of Ry­der Cup venue Golf Na­tional near Paris, the 6,700-yard course was cre­ated in 1986 but has the feel of an old es­tab­lished es­tate. And like Le Golf Na­tional, Sur­couf fea­tures heav­ily.

Com­ple­mented by a re­stored 18th cen­tury pri­ory ho­tel (see box) and with an ex­cel­lent, nine-hole par-36 course, St Malo is the type of place you’ll want to en­joy at leisure, ide­ally overnight.

Founded by a group of Bri­tish set­tlers in 1887, mak­ing it France’s sec­ond-old­est club, Di­nard was de­signed by the Scotsman Tom Dunn who was clearly in­flu­enced by the cour­ses of his home­land. Ooz­ing qual­ity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, it de­liv­ers ev­ery­thing you would ex­pect of a com­mand­ing links – sandy turf, rolling fair­ways, clas­sic pot bunkers, su­perb sea views, heather, gorse and some small and well-guarded greens. What’s more, at less than 6,000 yards, it’s the per­fect ex­am­ple of how a shorter course can still present a stiff test.

By con­trast, some 40 min­utes south east, Golf des Ormes is a pretty park­land course played out through rolling wood­land. It’s laid out over the grounds of a pri­vate cas­tle in the heart of a 370acre es­tate, and is every bit as en­chant­ing as that sounds. Stay on site at the ho­tel, apart­ment/stu­dios, na­ture lodges, tree or raft houses and en­joy a va­ri­ety of fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties.

Nearby, Pléneuf-Val-An­dré is more spec­tac­u­lar clifftop than tra­di­tional links, and none more spec­tac­u­lar than on the par-5 11th, one of Europe’s most spec­tac­u­lar holes, played out along­side the cliffs. The chal­lenge you’ll en­counter

changes dras­ti­cally when the wind whips in off the Emer­ald Coast.

Nor­mandy

Re­sist the over­tures of Paris and drive west through Brit­tany and you’ll soon find your­self in Nor­mandy. If this is your first port of call, it’s easy to en­ter Nor­mandy via the port of Cher­bourg, via a ferry from Southampton or Portsmouth. Nor­mandy is also just an hour’s drive from the north­ern fringes of the cap­i­tal and an even shorter jaunt from the Loire Val­ley, mak­ing this a golf des­ti­na­tion that can be en­joyed and reached in sev­eral ways. Which­ever route you take to get here, though, you will have a wide va­ri­ety of top qual­ity golf cour­ses from which to choose.

In this re­gion, famed for its camem­bert, ap­ples and cider and the fresh seafood, there are more than 40 cour­ses spread as far afield as the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel at the south-west corner to the Seine Val­ley to Pourville in the north­east.

Many of the best cour­ses are lo­cated in the Deauville area, in­clud­ing the his­toric Golf Bar­rière de Deauville and its sis­ter course, the pic­turesque Golf Bar­rière Saint-Julien. Founded in 1929, Golf Bar­rière de Deauville is lo­cated just a cou­ple of min­utes from the cen­tre of the trendy, well-to-do sea­side town and en­joys three nine-hole loops (red, white and blue) crafted by Tom Simp­son and Henry Cot­ton. The widely pre­ferred red/white 18-hole com­bi­na­tion mixes park­land and wood­land, and also de­liv­ers some mag­nif­i­cent coastal views.

The 27-hole Golf Bar­rière Saint-Julien is just a 15-minute drive away and while it lacks a lit­tle of its big sis­ter’s so­phis­ti­ca­tion and char­ac­ter, it’s an en­joy­able heath­land test of golf. The Val­ley is a de­mand­ing tree-lined lay­out with plenty of wa­ter haz­ards to hold your at­ten­tion, while the Wood­land is a scenic and al­to­gether more com­fort­able nine-holer that the less ac­com­plished golfer will rel­ish.

Con­tin­u­ing the heath­land theme is Champ de Bataille, lo­cated 15 miles from the Gal­lic town of Evreux. Set within the es­tate of the Chateau du Champ de Bataille, the 6,600-yard par 72 flows through av­enues of ma­ture trees, si­mul­ta­ne­ously evok­ing thoughts of Woburn and Went­worth.

Head­ing out to­wards Paris from Deauville, Golf d’Evreux is framed by nat­u­rally rolling land and is noted for the year-round qual­ity of its greens. Other no­table must-plays in­clude the stun­ning 109-year-old Etre­tat, which starts in­land be­fore tak­ing you on a spec­tac­u­lar five-hole stretch of cliff­side golf, the clas­sic links at Granville in the bay of Mont Saint-Michel, Wil­lie Park’s Dieppe-Pourville, one of the old­est in France, Omaha Beach, and Golf de la Presqu’Ile du Co­tentin on the edge of Cher­bourg & Bessin Nat­u­ral Park.

110 Golf World The Open Is­sue 2018

The sprawl­ing St Malo re­sort course is set on the edge of the Mes­nil for­est and plays around the beau­ti­ful Mir­loup Lake.

Golf de Pléneuf Val An­dré is clifftop golf at its very best. Di­nard Golf Club is a strong links that en­joys a stun­ning coastal lo­ca­tion.

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