If you are into golf and you like some nightlife – like us – then head
to Boulogne-sur-Mer or Le Touquet (also known as Le
Touquet-Paris-Plage). Both are really nice and vibrant coastal villages
with nice bars, restaurants and sandy beaches. And more importantly,
you’ll find a lot of good quality and highly rated golf courses!
This article is a combination of two recent golf trips to this region – made by Jeroen Korving (MD of Leadingcourses.com), Leonard van Nunen (Leadingcourses.com Evangelist) and a few Leadingcourses.com members and Ruben van der Zaag
(our Marketing Manager). Combined we have played almost all courses in
the Côte d’Opale region under different circumstances within a two week
period. To be short: this is a great area to go and the courses are all
Aa Saint Omer Golf Club
View from the terrace of the course at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club (photo credits member Jeroen Korving)
Aa Saint Omer Golf Club
is a very hilly golf course, so we would certainly recommend a buggy if
you are not very fit. We walked the course on a very sunny day and we
can certainly say that the course is pretty strenuous. The lay-out of
the course is mainly determined by the hills and slopes and therefore –
in our opinion – really fun to play. A
lot of elevated greens, some blind shots and holes with quite some
changes in elevation (sometimes you have cross deep valleys). The course
was designed by Dutch architect Johan Frederik Dudok van Heel, who
designed quite a few courses in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany,
Austria and thus also Aa Saint Omer, which is the only golf course he
designed in France.
During our visit, the greens were
really good. Firm and very fast, which made putting really interesting.
The rough was ok, not too difficult. If the rough was slightly higher,
then this course would be very demanding. In our opinion, this course is
not very suitable for players who have a handicap higher than 30. We had
a three-ball in front of us which were very slow and for whom this
course was just a bit too challenging. A good marshal and starter –
which we did not see during our visit – might be a good idea, but maybe
this was an incident.
The terrace is nice and has great views, but be aware of the fact
that it closes around 19.30 – which is often the case in France. No
problem, but it would have been nice to know on forehand. Staff at the
reception was ok, but it seemed they were just doing there job. No
smile, no explanation about the golf complex, no info about closing
hours of the restaurant. Bear in mind that most people have to drive
quite a bit to play this course, so a warm welcome can make all the
difference. The parking lot – so the entrance – could use some updating
and this also goes for driving range. If you are in a hurry, then skip
the driving range. It’s quite a walk to get there.
Aa Saint Omer has a nice hotel – Najeti Hôtel du Golf
– which looks out over the course. Very scenic. All in all, a very
pleasant course to play, with good maintenance (great greens), nice
vistas and challenging holes. On some holes you will encounter strategic
water hazards, but not too much. We really liked almost all holes;
perhaps only hole 15 and 16 were less interesting. But, the course is
certainly worth more than an 8.0 when it’s in this condition. When we
played it was very busy, so especially the first 9 holes took (too)
long.Quick facts Aa Saint Omer Golf Club
Courses: 18 holes Championship Course (Le Val) and a 9 holes Par 31 course (La Drève)
Architect: Dudock Van Heel
Golf de Wimereux
View towards the clubhouse at Golf De Wimereux from the 18th green (photo credits member Jeroen Korving)
In our opinion, there were no real
weak holes and also no signature holes. This is a genuine links course
with great views across the English Channel towards England, with firm
and small greens, a lot of little bunkers and quite some shrubs. When we
played here the wind was not too strong and it was blowing from a
direction which is not normal. We can imagine that with a bit of rain
and wind this course will become quite deadly. No need to take a boat to
England for a real links experience. This is all you need.
Nice touch: there are some real
bunkers (so not the sand, but the ones from WW1 or WW2) dotted across
the course. On hole 12 (a par 3,147 meters from yellow) it is possible
to tee off from the top of the bunker (white/black tees). Even if you
want to play from the red or yellow tees, our tip is to go for it on
this hole. It’s not a very difficult par 3 and it’s just five meters extra and the view is very nice.
There are quite some poles indicating which direction to hit the
ball. Be aware that these poles are for the white and black tees. These
tees often have a totally different angle then the yellow, red and blue
tees. All in all, a must play course when you are in the area!
Quick facts Wimereux:
Courses: 18 holes Championship Course
Architect: Campbell & Hutchinson (redesign)
Golf du Touquet
View from the tee of hole 10 towards hole 2 (photo credits member Jeroen Korving)
When you arrive, you immediately know that Golf du Touquet
is a golf club with ambitions. The clubhouse is new and has a modern feel. The overall service is great, from the welcome at the reception to the marshal in the course who tried to get everyone around within a
five hour timeframe (there had been a thunderstorm in the morning which forced them to stop play for 40 minutes). The consequence was that we had to
wait quite a bit, but because we were informed numerous times and because we weren’t in a rush we didn’t really mind.
We played the La Mer course – a Harry Colt design – which is
currently being transformed to its former layout. Although this is not a real links course and you never will see the sea, the course has a
links feel (inland links) to it and it’s really fun to play. Some greens are tough (with roll-offs on all sides), but fair and firm. The buggies have GPS and provide good detail. Some of us used a buggy and some walked the course. Both are fine. The course feels like it has been there
forever, nothing looks really artificial. All in all a good golf
course and it lived up to its reputation. The course has three good
opening holes – we certainly liked hole 2, which is a par 3 and
depending on the wind you have to either use an eight to nine iron or a
wedge. Then there is a section (hole 4 to 6) which is ok, but nothing
fancy. Then from hole 7, the course gets better and better.
A lot of work has been done on the
course by Patrice Boissonas and Frank Pont, and there is still more to
come to get the course back to the way it looked when it was designed in
1931 by Harry Colt. So far they have done great work! This is the
course everyone wants to play when coming to the area, although we also
really liked the other courses. If you like to stay near or on the golf
course, our advice is to stay in Touquet. Le Touquet has a nice hotel and the city is vibrant, it has a lot of nice bars and restaurants and a
wide sandy beach.
The food in the restaurant was nice and the terrace is great. The
only thing that might be a drawback is that the clubhouse is not
overlooking the nicest course (La Mer) and that it's quite a walk to
the La Mer course. A tip: you can take the car and park at
the La Mer course. We were also surprised that the clubhouse was closed
when we returned around 20.00 o’clock, but this seems to be normal practice in France.
Quick facts Golf du Touquet
Courses: La Mer (18 hole signature course), La Forêt (18-holes) and Le Manoir (9 holes)
Architect: Le Manoir (H.J. Baker), La Forêt (Hutchinson), La Mer (Harry Colt) and Patrice Boissonas & Frank Pont for the redesign
Golf d’Hardelot (Le Pins)
One of the great par 3’s at Le Pins course at Hardelot (photo credits member Jeroen Korving)
has two courses with two clubhouses, located a few kilometres from each other. So, make sure to drive to the correct clubhouse. We played Les Pins,
which does not have a very impressive clubhouse, but it works. When we
arrived (around 8.30) it was not open yet… So no coffee or breakfast for
us. We decided to start earlier, which was no problem. Our first
impression was that this is a typical
members course. Quiet, peaceful and not very equipped yet to welcome
guests from outside. We felt welcome, but the experience is totally
different than for instance arriving at Le Touquet.
Then the golf course, because that is what it’s all about. This Tom
Simpson designed course is absolutely stunning. Wow. We all like forest
courses and this course – and especially the layout – is great. The
bunkers are really nicely shaped and placed and Les Pins has some really
good par 3’s. Also, after you leave a green the next tee is just around
the corner, which ensures that you keep a certain pace and rhythm.
Great. Some nice wasteland areas, large bunkers and some elevated
greens. The course rewards golfers who take risks, but it always has an
alternative route for less experienced golfers. If you visit the area,
play this course!
The only strange thing is the short driving range, which runs along the
18th fairway without a fence to keep the balls in the driving range. So,
quite a lot of golf balls are lying just along the fairway or on it,
which makes it confusing when you hit your ball slightly left. It makes it a challenge to find your ball amongst all the driving range balls.
Perhaps not a lot of people use the driving range, but when we were here
there was a large group of young golfers (kids) using the range.
Quick facts Golf d’Hardelot - Le Pins
Courses: Le Pins
Architect: Tom Simpson
Golf d’Hardelot (Les Dunes)
View from the terrace at Hardelot - Les Dunes (photo credits member Jeroen Korving)
Although Hardelot Les Pins was really on our to-do list, Les Dunes is
a real surprise. The course opened in 1991, but – because of the mature
trees – it looks like it has been there much longer.
The course is not particularly long. At 4893 meters from the yellow
tees this par-70 course is actually rather short. There are 6 par-3’s,8
par-4’s and 4 par-5’s. That doesn’t mean this is an easy course though.
Some of the holes are quite narrow so straight tee shots are necessary.
Because of the lack of length those who hit their long irons well,
could even get around without hitting driver.
The par-4 opening hole is much easier than it looks like. You might
be impressed by the water close to the tee or the change in elevation
up to the green, but after a decent tee shot a short iron will do. The
par-5 third hole, however, is the other way around. It might look easy on
the scorecard (only 407 meters from the yellow tee box), but with the
wind up, it becomes a completely different hole. I love the bunkering on
this hole (see photos).
Just like it’s big sister Les Pins, the par-3’s on this course are
very much to our liking. All six par-3’s vary in distance from 112 to
161 meters. Reachable for every kind of player, challenging enough for
the best players. The 18th is a great finishing hole. After a downhill tee shot, you’ll
need to overcome your fears and hit a mid- to short iron over the water
in front of the green. With the pin position on the front edge of the
green (as it was when we played), this becomes quite a terrifying shot!
Les Dunes is a very nice course which we would recommend to any kind of
player. In the best case scenario, you play both golf courses of
Hardelot, because it would be a shame to miss one of the two.
Quick facts Golf d’Hardelot - Les Dunes
Courses: Les Dunes
Architect: Paul Rollin
Where to stay and play in Côte d’Opale?
The Côte d’Opale region is very accessible by car for golfers from
England, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Germany. It took us only a
4-hour drive from Utrecht, The Netherlands. And if you live in London,
Brussels or Paris it will take you less than two hours. We decided to stay in Le Touquet, which is the most vibrant village in the area, but Boulogne-sur-Mer is also fine.
If you really want to stay on or next to the golf course, then head to Le Manoir at Golf du Touquet
or stay at Najeti Hôtel du Parc at Golf d’Hardelot. You can also stay at Najeti Hôtel du Golf which is located next to the fairway of hole 9 at Aa Saint-Omer Golf Club
. Saint-Omer is located more inland (so not along the coast) in the middle of Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale.
We hope that this post has given you a bit of appetite to visit this
region, because in our opinion this region deserves more attention. Next
time when you are planning a golf trip, don’t head to Portugal, Spain
or the UK but consider the Côte d’Opale for a change! We will certainly
come back again and then we will also visit Golf de Belle Dune
(rated high as well). This golf links is situated in the heart of the
Marquenterre dune massif, which is one of the most beautiful areas in
Northern Europe. Belle Dune is located south of Touquet.
Finally, we would like to thank all the golf managers who were so
kind to welcome us, to show us around and to make our visit very