The fairways at Golf de Granville date back to 1912, when a number of somewhat primitive golf holes were first laid out by local golfers amongst the Bréville dunes on France’s Atlantic coast, forming the first – and so far only – links layout in the country.
The course was requisitioned by the military during the Great War before Harry Colt was brought in to carry out remedial work shortly after hostilities had ended. World War II also brought about closure of the course and it took some time for it to recover once enmities had ceased.
In more recent times, Martin Hawtree (in the early 1990s) and Stuart Hallett have worked on the course, resulting in its selection as host venue for the French Mid Amateur Championships in 2008.
In addition to the 18-hole Links layout, Granville also boasts a short 9-hole course, called Bord de Mer, that extends to 2,428 yards.
Stuart Hallett kindly provides us with the following exclusive comments:
“I have been working with Granville since 2006, in order to progressively renovate the golf course. At that time, the course didn't look like an authentic links, and it certainly didn't play like one either. Our goal has been to revive the original character of the course despite some lost holes in the early 1990s.
We have re-seeded fairways and greens and ensured the return of fescue turf with annual over seeding by green keeping staff. An extensive restoration and remodelling program has been carried out on tees, bunkers and a number of green surrounds. Large numbers of evergreen trees have also been removed.
The 7th hole was altered from a previously poor par three to an attractive short par four and the green on the 14th hole was moved from a heavy soiled corner of the course onto sandy links ground.
We still have plenty of projects and general improvements to put into place but the course has certainly been transformed. The look and feel of the golf course is a unique experience, especially here in France. The praise of visitors and purists is constant and very encouraging for the future.
One person has made all of this possible; club President, Jean Capelle. Since taking office in 2006, he has fought tooth and nail for the course to be developed, thus giving us the freedom to work and move forward.”
Granville is a beautiful links course on the northern coast of France. The clubhouse building looks like a chateaux and has a very grandiose entrance. The food is also phenomenal at the restaurant and the staff there have a great sense of humour.
We played in the height of the summer just gone when the course was burnt out, giving it a real links look and feel. The greens were still green and were in perfect condition so it was great to play a links how nature intended.
The round begins with a relatively easy par 5, although from the tee it was a little confusing as to which fairway was the first one! The second is a nice short par 3 about 146 yards where you can't quite see all of the green from the tee.
It's a tremendous links course with lots of interesting par 4s, good par 5s and excellent par 3s. The 10th hole is a brilliant par 3 which is a difficult start to the back 9. The green is like an upturned saucer with massive drop off slopes all around the green. If you don't find the dance floor from the tee, you're going to have a testing chip shot. The backdrop to the hole is quirkily framed by an American mid-west style water tanker on stilted legs.
The par 3, 16th is also a good par 3 which looks quite daunting from the tee. The hole goes up a slope all the way to a hugely raised green which looks like a plateau that you have to find or you're going to be testing your short game again.
The round finishes with a relatively easy short par 4 which leads back up to the impressive clubhouse.
I massively enjoyed my first ever round at Granville with its hummocks and sea views on offer. There is also a nine hole course on the property which we managed to sneak in before getting the boat back, and whilst the conditioning was not as good as the championship course, it only added to a fantastic day in the sun.
Granville is a links style course with revetted bunkering and although on the coast has it has no views of the coast. The fairways were in a unexpectedly poor condition when we visited, giving very uneven lies. The 9th hole has trees that have been planted along the entire right side of the fairway to hide the practice ground which look out of place with the rest of the course. There were apparently plans to move the practice ground and remove the trees but this has not happened. 16 is considered the 'signature' hole. A par 3 with elevated green, fully exposed to the elements. 2 and 10 are also excellent par 3 holes. This is fundamentally a good course to play with many excellent holes. I hope they fix the fairways and let the rough grow a little. The club house has a super restaurant which is worth a visit for an evening meal.
We had an incredibly dry Spring and early Summer, and the lack of fairway irrigation clearly hurt the fairways when I visited last month.
I've played Granville a few times and enjoyed thoroughly. It's a very nice, very French town and the Links is right on the coast just to the north. A welcoming club house, fun 9 hole track for a warm up, outstanding lunch and then a really good, hard running links as the main event. Pretty fair, but if you're in the deep rough take a provisional ! Hard part 3rd, and unusually the heathy holes on the other side of an internal road are equally interesting. Great fun.