Formed in the early 1880s, Le Stade Français sports club offers its 12,000 members the opportunity to participate in an incredible total of twenty-three different sporting pursuits, from badminton to basketball, handball to hockey and, of course, the royal and ancient game of golf.
This respected club operates two golf facilities: a simple 9-hole setup at Golf du Haras Lupin, which lies only 20 kilometers to the west of the city centre in Paris, and an impressive 36-hole complex at Courson-Monteloup, situated some forty-four kilometres further south.
Flamboyant architect Robert von Hagge designed the four nines at Golf du Stade Français in the early 1990s, shifting substantial quantities of earth in the process, and the Lilas/Orange combination offers a game of two halves, with a hilly front nine and a water-laden inward half.
I’d played earlier in the day at Fontainebleau so my visit to Courson was made on the way back to Paris, where I was teeing it up the next day. Stade Francais sports club runs a rather smart, well-run 36-hole golf facility here and the 18-hole course that I played was actually the Black and Orange, so the other half of my review (for the Black nine) is on the Courson (Vert & Noir) webpage.
As the stroke index numbers on the Noir/Orange scorecard are even for the Orange nine, I take it these holes are regarded as forming the less difficult circuit for this 18-hole combination.
Having noticed right away on the Black 1st tee the strange semi-circular shaped depressions in the fairway mounding on either side of the hole, I soon realized this theme runs right throughout the property so it was no surprise to see the same grassy shapes on the Orange nine. After a while, you just get used to seeing these things on the side of fairways and around greensites but I’d still like to know why they were used as a design feature.
The orange nine starts out on hillier terrain, with holes 2 to 4 routed parallel to each other but well separated. During this sequence, the par four 3rd had one of the most unusual fairways I’ve ever come across, narrowing to less than five meters just before the green! The par three 5th plays across an attractive pond, as does the par three 8th, and these are the leading holes on this 9-hole loop.
I only had time for a quick look round the Lilas nine on a buggy but I saw enough to note that it was at least as good as the Orange nine. I especially liked the par four 3rd, where the approach shot has to clear a small pond in front of the green, and the par three 8th, which calls for a full carry over water from tee to green.
If modern parkland golf is your thing then Courson is certainly geared up to provide just that.