L'expérience du sublime. Dinard is correlative with Pebble Beach and Old Head where the experience is so much more than the golf course in terms of the traditional ratings criteria such as design, challenge, variety of holes, condition/presentation etc. Yes, there are ordinary holes in the above terms but that is the trade off when the topography limits design options.
Dinard is the 2nd oldest course in France and has experienced a number of iterations since the original routing was established in 1887. The Club is set amongst a sensitive natural environment and embraces ecology particularly with respect to the utilisation re-cycled water on the course which synthesises with an ethos of “just keeping the grass alive”.
Understandably, the most pedestrian holes are located at the start of the course. Although decent enough holes with some challenge (first 3 holes are par 4s ranging from 370 to 460 yards) the 4th hole is probably the first hole of note. It is a severe dog leg par 5 which gives the long hitters an opportunity to cut off the dogleg on the drive and leave a medium / short iron ton to the green. The first moment to cherish is the tee shot to an infinity fairway on the par 4, 5th hole. After cresting the hill, the golfer is confronted with the maelstrom of sea, cliffs, coves, beaches and peninsulas which is truly mesmeric.
The 6th hole is a par 4 which plays downhill into a valley before rising to the green. There are undulations on the fairway and swathes of rough comprising a high percentage of the landing area for the tee shot. This hole is celebrated in “The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes” book authored by George Peper, which is testament enough.
The 7th hole is the first of two wonderful short (110 yards) par 3s (the other is the 17th) which represent the prototype for such holes – visually striking, flat small green and a challenging bunker complex.
The 8th and 9th holes are attractive enough holes albeit fairly straight forward and act as the conduit of joining one headland to the next (much like the 9th hole at Cruden Bay).
The 10th is a straight away par 4 with a blind second shot. The hole is augmented by a magnificent building located on one of the promontories that dominate the coastline. The 11th is a straightforward uphill orientated par 4 which hugs the coast.
In my view that 12th can be included in any greatest hole conversation. It is a medium length par 3 whose green is semi blind from the tee and has a pronounced slope from left to right. Running down the right side of the hole, the cliffs are at its closest point to the course.
The 13th is also a par 3 which is played from a tee situated on an old World War 2 concrete fortification to a green which is significantly uphill from the green.
The 14th and 15th are short par 4s which are not particularly memorable and represent the consequence of the lack of usable terrain.
Although relatively far from the coastline, the 16th is the best hole from a pure playing standpoint. It is 460 yards from the tips and moves to the right towards an uphill green with out of bounds on the right. It is both challenging and beautiful with some natural dune sculpting surrounding the back of the green and the strategic use of a small number of wind blasted pine trees.
The closing hole is a straightway par 4 which takes you back to the clubhouse, which as you would expect has panoramic views of the course and coast. The staff are friendly and it was good to see golfers of all ages either on the course or practicing.
As described, there are a number of ordinary holes and possibly too many “blind shot” holes. It is a short course at under 6000 yards with a par of 68 and only 1 par 5. I was lucky to play the course with a one club wind, which the members tell me is extremely rare. In conclusion, it was an absolute pleasure to play.
In some ways the course at Dinard is the antithesis of Frenchness and could be described as “blue collar”. The location however is overwhelmingly “no collar”.
Date: July 23, 2019