Measuring 6,734 yards from the championship tees, Golf de Saint Germain is located to the west of Paris in the forest of Saint Germain. The club was originally founded in 1902 as Golf de l’Ermitage and their course was situated on the banks of the river Seine but in 1920 they moved to their present location when members grew tired of the river flooding their 18-hole layout.
St Germain is one of several French golf projects that Harry Colt was involved with in the early part of the 20th century, the others being Cannes Mandelieu, Chantaco, Saint Cloud, Granville (with Charles Alison) and Le Touquet (with J. H. Taylor).
The club has hosted the French Open nine times and it has been won at St Germain by golfers from eight different nations (with only Scotland providing multiple champions in the shape of George Duncan in 1927 and Sandy Lyle in 1981). The last winner here was Seve Ballesteros when he shot a course record 62 on his way to capturing the 1985 Open de France.
A delightful parkland course that flows through avenues of majestic trees, St Germain is a thinking golfer’s course where one must plot their way round the property, avoiding the strategically placed bunkers and steering clear of the trees that line every fairway and shelter every green.
Following a meeting of the Colt Association at Stoke Park and visits to Swinley Forest and Sunningdale at the end of the 1990s, the club assembled a small team to oversee the restoration of the course to its original design.
Superfluous trees and bushes were removed and putting surfaces reshaped and resized, with Colt’s trademark false fronts restored at many of the greens. Selective bunker removal was undertaken and over fifty greenside traps were renovated, returning green surrounds to their original appearance.
As Philippe Delaune, the St Germain President says, “If our club is lucky enough to possess a renowned architectural heritage, it is our duty to preserve its authenticity… The course can evolve but it must retain its original character”.
Golf de Saint Germain offer excellent practice facilities with a driving range, pitching and putting greens and an additional 9-hole layout so make use of them before tackling the main course!
Played this in May 2017, and it is a wonderful course. It is quite flat, with most fairways fairly tight and tree lined, making this a tricky course, which was in fantastic condition. A lovely old clubhouse, and a generally quaint feel to the place made this a course to return to.
As this is my first course review, I will start with my home course: Golf de Saint Germain. As a course, this classic Harry Colt has hosted numerous French Opens, and every year hosts one major Amateur Event. Until the 80s the course was frequently referred to as an inland links. That was before the club installed its automatic watering system. The course is known for its massive greens, which are its best defence. 4 very tough and gorgeous par 3s remind the connoisseur that he is on a Colt Design. Located in the middle on an old Royal Forest, my guests are often amazed by the wide range of specimen trees, and on the 14th, one will be able to marvel at an oak tree dating from the XVII century.
As a club, Saint Germain is elite in the Paris area. That ensures that the course is always in great condition and apart from lunchtime at weekends, there is no need to reserve a tee time … and also …make sure to have lunch on the terrace overlooking the 9th green and 1st tee.
Now for my member’s tip: if at all possible, one should tee off at around 5-6 pm in June & July. As the sun sets on the fairways, the light, the shadows, the trees … the course’s beauty is magnified. Nature takes back its course: the deer come out, the rabbits run around the forest …great stuff !
Enjoy Saint Germain
However, it was in particular the par 3’s that really stood out for me at St. Germain. It’s a surprisingly great day out on the links, and make sure to enjoy lunch or dinner in the restaurant as well… it’s equally as lovely as the course.