Chiberta is a monument to one of the world’s greatest architects, Tom Simpson, and it is also one of the few links courses on the French Atlantic coastline.
In the “Roaring Twenties”, 1926 to be precise, Tom Simpson was instructed by the golf mad Duke of Windsor to create the most beautiful course in the world. Simpson did a pretty good job. Chiberta is not quite Pebble Beach or Turnberry but it does have magnificent views across to the Biarritz lighthouse, which is sometimes the line from the 14th, a long dramatic par five adjacent to the seashore.Despite Chiberta’s early popularity during the Golden Age of Golf, the course almost disappeared in the 1970s due to a lack of will and money. Thankfully, the charming Chiberta, with its mixture of links and tree-lined holes, has been restored to its former glory. These days it’s so popular that you will need to book well in advance, especially during the busy summer season.
Golf de Chiberta is located in the south west of France near the seaside town of Biarritz. Here Simpson had some pretty interesting golfing terrain to work with, a combination of rolling linksland in the coastal dunes, and some heavily treed areas with significant elevation changes.
The course he designed therefore is a delightful mixture of classic links holes by the sea, and parkland holes in sandy soil through a forest of pine.
Holes go off in all directions with an inspired routing that does not favour any wind direction for long...and takes full advantage of that rolling terrain.
Favourite holes for me include the rollicking par 5 opener over the ridge and down to a delightful green setting overlooked by a grandiose home from days gone by, the pure links holes at 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, and 14, and the long par 4 15th through the pines.
The routing and the combination of links and inland holes is perhaps unconventional but I thought it was great fun, and the membership seem to agree. It appears to be a very busy club!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Chiberta is the jewel of golf in the Basque country (Spain and France included). It is a links course, but as that description goes, there are 2 types of links courses in my mind: you have your dunes courses (Muirfield for example) and your sea view courses (St Andrews for example). Chiberta is in the later category. And to be more precise, it’s even in another category. Just like Cypress Point, which starts with sea side, goes into the dunes, and then into the pines, back to the dunes and the sea side, Chiberta actually goes the other way, but has all three hole types. It starts in the pines, goes through the dunes, and onto the beach…quite literally. On the 5th, you will have to let the surfers walk across the fairway, and you will be able to watch them surf as you play the hole. Don’t get me wrong; this is not Cypress Point, as this is a public course with average maintenance. But if you were to play one course in the area, it would be this one … as its ranking would suggest
Wonder and fun. Played it for first time today and loved this true links test. It is short (6200 yards from back) but tests your skills. A course one could play every day without getting bored. Loved #11 a par 4 straight toward the ocean.