Le Touquet is very French but it has strong British connections, not least because both contrasting courses at Le Touquet were laid out by British architects, but also because this was once the playground for the British gentry. Horace Hutchinson designed La Forêt and according to most modern records Harry S. Colt designed La Mer.
However, in 1936, J.S.F Morrison wrote a a column on Golf in Japan in The Bystander magazine: "Captain Alison designed the new course at Le Touquet, and was secretary of Stoke Poges shortly before the war, but he is chiefly famous for having, when representing Oxford v Cambridge, played off the roof of the clubhouse at Woking to halve the last hole in 5." Morrison was a senior partner of the design firm Colt, Alison and Morrison Ltd., so it seems La Mer could be the work of Charles Hugh Alison and Harry Colt.
In 1928 a decision was made to build a second course in the dunes and in 1930, the Daily Mail commented that this new terrain will comprise of eighteen of the most magnificent holes a scratch golfer could dream of. The new La Mer course finally opened for play in 1931 but the Prince of Wales – Edward VIII – discreetly “tried” it a few days before it officially opened. The devastation following WW2 necessitated restoration work and the course lay dormant until 1959. Harold Baker modified the layout in 1997.
The stunning seaside course, La Mer, is one of Alison's greatest achievements, and that is saying something as Alison completed many outstanding designs during his lifetime, including Hirono. Located in the Pas de Calais region, La Mer is a classic links course that winds its way between the coastal dunes and rough grasses. With wonderful sea views from elevated tees, formidable bunkering, huge dunes and fast but firm greens, La Mer is perhaps the best true links course in France and it can proudly hold its head high alongside some of its regal neighbours which lie on the opposite side of the English Channel.
Measuring 6,407 metres, La Mer is a challenging layout and has hosted six French Opens, (the most recent was in 1977 when Seve Ballesteros won the title), but it's still a seriously tough proposition, especially when the Atlantic winds funnel down the Channel and whip across this exposed links land. Sam Torrance holds the current course record with a truly remarkable 63.
However, Le Touquet hasn't rested on its laurels. La Mer underwent an extensive redesign programme in 2015 which will make it a serious championship contender once more. A bridge now links the tee and green on the 10th – the par three signature hole. New tees have been added on 1st, 5th, 13th and 17th, bunkers have been added here and there and three greens have been replaced (5th, 6th and 12th). Two great hotels are attached to the golf club making Le Touquet a wonderful holiday venue.
Only a half hour drive from Calais, Le Touquet is a high class and convenient destination, particularly for golfers based in southern England. Add good accommodation, 45 holes of golf and a cluster of other highly ranked local courses to the mix and you have all the ingredients for the perfect golf break as we discovered last week.
The "top of the bill" La Mer layout has undergone dramatic changes in recent times as golf course architects Patrice Boissonnas and Frank Pont have re-created much of the original links character of this fine old course. At the heart of the renovation were plans to restore five Colt/Alison holes from the original 1931 design which is not only of historical significance but has undoubtedly created a much improved back nine. Although one or two tree lined holes remain, much has been stripped back to leave a significantly more open and exposed aspect to this fast running and beautifully bunkered layout.
Unfortunately one hole still remains on the drawing board as local government ecologists have deemed that the re-construction of the original 17th would destroy an environmentally sensitive area. Hopefully this situation can be resolved in time as the Colt/Alison routing is far superior to the current hole which is almost certainly the weakest on the course.
The run of holes from 13 - 16 have now been fully restored in all their original glory providing not only more attractive but far more interesting holes. The strategic 15th was regarded by the great Tom Simpson as one of the best par-5's on the continent and the 16th, a classic long par-3 playing downhill to a nicely situated green, is certainly a beauty but often a beast when the wind blows. Two of the remaining par-3's will have you reaching for the camera. The 2nd at around 200 yards is a stunning hole with exquisite bunkering fronting the green and the tricky 10th requires a precise iron shot played over a valley to a raised green which falls away dramatically to the left. Of the longer holes I particularly liked 1, 8, 9, 11 and 12, the latter two leading us nicely into the new holes with some having raised greens which add to the level of difficulty.
Playing from the white markers at around 6,800 yards in light winds is certainly a tough proposition and these are not even the back tees. My guess is that most golfers will find the yellow tees offer more than enough challenges, particularly if the wind blows.
You may not beat La Mer but you can't help but love it. Brian W
We decided to write in for the 24the Amateur Classic Tournament held at Golf du Touquet at the end of august this year.
The tournament is scheduled for 4 days: 2 rounds at Touquet la Mer and 2 rounds at Touquet la Forêt, alternating.
Having played la Mer a couple of years ago, I was looking forward visiting the course again and to get acquainted with the changes they made to holes 14-16.
Although la Mer is situated near the coast, I don't think the quality of the turf would qualify la Mer as a pure links golf course. Having said that, it is a wonderful designed golf course situated in a panoramic dunes landscape, a true classic course. Some par4's are testing long (especially those against prevailing wind direction!), but overall the course allows for a decent score. If you favour your course management skills over your desire to overpower every shot from the tee & at the pin.
After a decent opening nine (closing with a nice testing par4 against the wind), the course shows it's real beauty with the closing nine. The closing nine starts with a charming, but well protected, short par3, and after a varied test of golf holes, the round ends with a beautiful downhill par4.
Despite the fact that the holes 14-16 are relatively new, I do believe that they have made the second nine a more balanced nine: in the old days this part of the course felt more like a parkland course then a dunes course. They must have cleared tonnes of trees to (re)create the links feeling at this part of the course again, having the holiday houses behind the green of the 13&14th more in sight, as an obvious trade off. The only week hole on the back nine remains hole 17: a rather straight forward uphill par5, now being the only hole with that old parkland feel to it.
I expected top notch maintenance levels, and maybe this was the only aspect of the course that disappointed me. Among more general maintenance findings, I think that especially the greens could benefit from some extra TLC: the greens should be a touch (or 2....) firmer and faster, allowing putts to hold their lines on these beautiful contoured greens. Lets hope that with the economy shifting gears, the maintenance levels can be raised accordingly. With maintenance at normal levels, definitely worth a 5 ball rating.
All in all, Touquet la Mer is one of the better golf courses the Côte d'Opale has on offer and a must play golf course when visiting this area of la douce France (with Hardelot les Pines, Touquet la Forêt, Belle Dunes & Wimereux)
Can't wait to play this course again during the 25th Amateur Classic Tournament at le Touquet next year!
The recently renovated Le Touquet is now a joy to play. They have removed tons of trees and bushes in creating wide open spaces and bringing back the links nature of this excellent course. A serious and conscious effort has been taken to bring the course gradually back to the way Harry Colt designed it back in its hay-day and fine work has been done. The battle however is not over and the uphill 17th still must be changed significantly to bring the entire routing back. At the moment the run of holes on the back 9 are absolutely fabulous until you get to 17 which is in its current form a very strange hole quite different from Colt’s original. Regardless the rest of the course is back to the Colt originally intended it, or at least very close to how it was and really it’s brilliant! I highly recommend a visit and with Hardelot Les Pins and Belle Dune close by it makes for a great long weekend of golf.
I would say my favorite holes were the par 3 2nd and the par 4 11th and 12th holes. These par 4’s are played at a horizontal angle to the fairway and really make you think off the tee. 11 is a very long hole and has a really tough raised green to approach. It’s more of a par 4.5 but nonetheless an excellent hole.
The new clubhouse at Le Touquet is now open. Very plush, a real work of art, very luminous inside, fantastic spacious interiors and a great sun deck.
New changing rooms meet all the needs of the modern clubhouse, lockers, showers, towels on request. New reception and professionals shop. Masses of car parking. 21st century facility to match the golf courses.
New greens on La Mer slowly bedding down, good surfaces but slower than rest. New holes maturing and taking shape, another winter and they will blend into the surroundings better. Generally in good order when you consider the traffic they get over the summer months.
Two good tests of golf await, warm up on the gentle 9 hole Manoir, move onto the Foret to prepare for the La Mer, carefully pick the tees you play or the course will have its revenge. Richard Lobb. Lucky Member.
Was really interested in the latest review from Friday and cannot wait to play Le Touquet for the first time on Thursday and again on Saturday and experience the new clubhouse. We are 8 golfers, travelling from the East coast of Scotland and all off single handicaps - as a member Richard, which tees would you suggest for La Mer - we were thinking the tips ? Any advice warmly welcomed !