Review for Grand Saint-Emilionnais

Reviewer Score:


It’s always a special thing to play a newly designed course. It gets even more special when it’s a Tom Doak course.

And even more when playing with the course owner who during the 18 holes keeps giving you the insight of how the course was designed, the inner secrets of working with Doak, the subtleties of creating a course over a 10 year period.

As a golf enthusiast this was an amazing experience.

As a golf traditionalist I was playing with Andre Mourgue d’Algue, France’s most prized golfing family, and a scratch golfer himself.

The course opened in late 2015 and I went to play the course December 27th 2016. So needless to say, it probably not the best period – a new course during the winter period. But the opportunity arose …

The course itself :

I was never the 100% Doak enthusiast … that is until now. What he has done at St Emilion is fantastic. Simple as that !

It’s a course which is playable at all levels, with very traditional Bordeaux area scenery (vines and forest), using the natural contours and subtle shaping to create something that looks as though it’s been here for a long time. The greens may be a bit too undulated, but I suppose the family is knowledgeable enough not to get the greens that fast that it would be a problem.

The tradition of golf :

Andre’s vision for the course, is to get back to a rather minimalist English golf tradition. Play the course as it is ... The tee boxes are next to the greens ... The driving is rather large and it starts to get tricky on the approach to the green ... Play the bump and run or putt from the fringe on most greens… nothing too fancy, but at the end of the day, you have played a great course in a very special environment, with a 13th century church that one can use as for direction on the attack to the green on 16th, Montaigne’s Mansion on 15th, the Saint Emilion vines on 5th…

The one thing I love about the course : most tee boxes open up the course to see 2-3 other holes, but once on the fairway, you are on that hole and see nothing else, which strengthens your focus but at the same enables you to get a feel for this unique place… a bit like Augusta.

This course will climb the rankings as the course settles in in the coming months, and as golf connaisseurs/rankers discover the course … that’s a given !

Date: February 07, 2017

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