The French Open was held ten times on the Vineuil course at Chantilly between 1913 and 1990 and national championships are still held at the club in the modern era, using a composite course that includes several holes from the Longères layout.
Today, the Longères course measures 6,391 metres and it plays to an overall par of 73, with only three par threes on the card. Feature holes include short par fours at the 5th, 14th and 16th, the last of which is a Simpson original from the old Vineuil course.
The provenance of the Longères course at Chantilly was a little sketchy so we contacted Donald Steel, who redesigned the course in the late 1980s. He kindly replied to our inquiry then passed us on to immediate Past President and recent R&A Captain, Pierre Bechmann, who was able to furnish us with the following in-depth account:
Prior to World War II, Golf de Chantilly had 36 holes, comprising the Vineuil course and the Longères course.
The Longères course included holes which were situated on what is now the practice ground, the horse field southwest of the entrance gate and an area to the south of the road and to the west of the canal bridge, close to the canal itself.
After World War II, Golf de Chantilly reverted to 27 holes, with the Vineuil course consisting of 18 holes and the Longères course consisting of 9 holes, all located to the north of the (now disused) railway line.
In 1969, the lease of the Club was amended and Golf de Chantilly exchanged the area of the disused golf holes to the south for a woodland area to the north of the existing holes.
Frank Pennink, being a longstanding friend of Jean-Louis Dupont and other members, including my father, was initially commissioned to design golf holes in the forest. The need for various administrative permits and the lack of funding resulted in a delay in building the new holes.
It was only in 1988 that all permits were obtained and that members agreed to build the new holes in the forest. Frank's former partner Donald Steel then designed 13 new holes.
The well-known championship Vineuil course remains and it is played in its traditional layout for major events and the Club Championship.
Most of the time, however, three of the 13 holes built by Donald are used as holes 9, 10 and 11 for the Vineuil course, whose traditional 16th, 17th and 18th holes are used as holes 10, 11 and 18 of the Longères course.
The club thus has the benefit of two loops of nine holes ending in front of the clubhouse.
Four holes on the previous 9-hole Longères course have been disused following the creation of 13 holes in the forest and the corresponding area is now used as a practice pitch and putt and a 6-hole pitch and putt layout.
The present structure gives the club the benefit of a considerable ease of play by members – with 140 playing juniors between 3 and 15 years old – who can use the Longères course with the 9th and 18th finishing in front of the clubhouse.
At the same time, we have the Vineuil course in its traditional layout for major events, such as the annual French Open Amateur Stroke Play championship (Coupe Murat) and other championships, like the 2016 European Amateur Team Championship.