Top 10 Courses: France

Heres our list of the top 10 courses in France

1. MORFONTAINE (GRAND PARCOURS), Mortefontaine

Arguably the finest (and most exclusive) course in Europe, this 1927 masterpiece by flamboyant Englishman Tom Simpson unfurls in an idyllic forest an hour north of Paris, its holes weaving artfully through tall pines.

france courses
Morfontaine (Grand Parcours) (photo by Julien Tizot)

2. LES BORDES (NEW), Saint-Laurent-Nouan

Although less than four years old, Gil Hanse’s first European design has won fast and unanimous acclaim. Set in a heathland hunting estate 90 minutes south of Paris, its heather-lined fairways have an Old World feel, but make no mistake, this is a 21st-century test.

3. FONTAINEBLEAU, Fontainebleau

Another Tom Simpson gem and, like Morfontaine, nestled in a sand-based forest. Taut corridors combine with lush beds of heather, bracken, and broom to command accuracy both from the tee and into the heavily contoured, tightly bunkered greens.

4. CHANTILLY (VINEUIL), Vineuil-Saint-Firmin

Yet another Simpson design tucked in woodlands, this one—the site of 11 French Opens— is surely his toughest test, calling for both length and accuracy, with several fairways tightened by cross bunkers.

5. TERRE BLANCHE (LE CHÂTEAU), Tourettes

A luxury resort set in the hills of Provence, Terre Blanche boasts two Dave Thomas designs with this one the standout due to the crisscrossing creek that adds to both the challenge and charm of the course.

6. ST. GERMAIN (GRAND PARCOURS), St. Germain-en-Laye

Harry Colt designed a handful of French courses and this one is at the top of the list, a parkland/forest layout that has hosted nine French Opens, the last of them won by Seve Ballesteros. Dramatic fairway bunkering and Colt’s false-front greens call for constant attention.

7. MÉDOC (CHÂTEAU), Le Pian Médoc

The only European course by Bill Coore is set in the heart of the Bordeaux wine country, with each hole named after a local château. This is an expansive test, but strategic bunkering combines with thick rough and the occasional water hazard to tighten things up.

8. LE GOLF NATIONAL (ALBATROS), Guyancourt

The French Open site since 1991 and host of the 2018 Ryder Cup was designed to be a big, dramatic stage, with plenty of TPC-style spectator mounding and menacing water in play on a dozen holes, including three of the last four.

9. LE TOUQUET (LA MER), Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

This linksy layout by Colt winds across both woodlands and dunes. Elevated tees provide stunning views of the English Channel, and an ever-present wind keeps conditions firm and fast.

10. LES AISSES, La Ferté-Saint-Aubin

On a 600-acre Loire Valley estate, Martin Hawtree revamped a course originally designed by Frenchman Oliver Brizon. The result is a tribute to classic British heathland golf, lush with mature oaks, birches, and pines and blanketed in heather.

Thank you for supporting our journalism. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the Summer 2024 issue of LINKS Magazine. Click here for more information.

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