- Open de France
Open de France
The Open de France was instituted in 1906, making it the oldest national championship in continental Europe. It’s been played as a 72-hole competition annually since then, apart from 1915 to 1919 due to World War I and from 1940 to 1945 during World War II. Under the leadership of the French Federation President, Pierre Deschamps, the Omnium Grand Championship was organised for the first time on the 30th of June and the 1st of July 1906 at Golf de La Boulie.
Despite the absence of the Great Triumvirate – Harry Vardon, James Braid and J. H. Taylor – the inaugural event was deemed a great success, especially as it was won by home favourite Arnaud Massy, who would return the following year to retain his title. Massy also struck a great blow for French golf in 1907 by becoming the first golfer outside the British Isles to win The Open.
Two years later, J. H. Taylor was also successful in defending the French title and he became the first champion to lift the Edward George Stoïber Cup, a magnificent silver trophy donated by Lena Stoiber in honour of her recently deceased husband. Stoiber, an American industrialist, had been a founding member of the Société de Golf de Paris at La Boulie and his wife deemed it a fitting tribute to present the silverware in his name for annual competition.
Massy would go on to win the French Open twice, in 1911 and 1925, but neither J. H. Taylor nor Harry Vardon would triumph again. A couple of Scotsmen did, however: James Braid in 1910 and George Duncan in 1913 and1927. But it was Audrey Boomer from Jersey who stole the show in the tournament’s formative years, winning a record five times between 1921 and 1931.
The Open de France became a more international affair as the years progressed: there were three South African winners during the 1950s and 60s; three Australians in the 1960s; and Robert De Vicenzo from Argentina lifted the Stoiber Cup three times between 1950 and 1964. Into the 1970s, and Seve Ballesteros matched Massy’s four victories between 1977 and 1986.
Bernhard Langer was the first German winner in 1984, Philip Walton was the first Irishman in 1990, and Costantino Rocco became the first Italian to outscore the field in 1993. In the new millennium, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell won two years in a row (2013 and 2014) and there were also first-time wins for golfers from Austria (Bernd Wiesberger in 2015), Thailand (Thongchai Jaidee in 2016) and Sweden (Alex Noren in 2018).
La Boulie was where the first seven Opens took place and it hosted twenty in total up until 1986. Unfortunately, in the modern era, it’s unable to hold such a big event but it will always remain the spiritual home of the national golf tournament, even though the contest is now embedded at the modern Golf National facility's Albatros course, located less than ten kilometres southwest of where it all began on the old 18-hole La Vallée layout at La Boulie.
One course no longer exists, at Golf & Country Club de Fourqueux, so you will not see it listed below, and the modern day course at Golf de Dieppe retains only a few of the original holes. At Golf Club de Lyon, the Brocards course hosted the Open in 1979 and the Sangliers was used twenty-two years later.
When the Open de France has been played at Le Touquet it has not always been held on La Mer. After World War II, a 14-hole loop on La Mer and four holes from La Forêt allowed a start and finish at the nearby Manoir Hotel, which was being used as a clubhouse at that time. That's why you will see both courses listed below.
The original 18-hole course for the French Open at Barrière La Baule in 1978 was divided in two during the 1990s so you’ll need to play both the Red and the Blue course if you want to retrace the steps of South African Dale Hayes who won the Open title there.
Open de France Top 100 Leaderboard
B-NL Challenge Trophy