Tom Simpson may well be the best British export to France since the humble Croissant. His gallic efforts of note include Chantilly, Chiberta, Fontainebleau, Morfontaine, and this one. Despite being relatively well known in the UK, he seems to have done his best work in France - which must make him the Chris Waddle of golf course design.
Morfontaine is the one most golfing dirty stop outs would drop their plus fours to play. But good luck getting on what might legitimately be the Augusta of Europe (in terms of the golfing public’s right to roam). Although right now might be a good time to sneak on. Anyways, Hardelot might be the poor relation, but as I was pleased to discover, we’re still talking Pippa Middleton.
This course scythes its way through a majestic pine woodland. The land is sand, the terra firma, and it rolls like a rolling pin. Occasionally it’s narrow, but more often it offers width with open arms. As conditions were hard when we played in June, you had options in shot selection and in particular needed to control your tee shots. Les Pins has sufficient scale to satisfy its design ambition - it’s relatively Grand & Flamboyant if you’re used to the forested old timers in Holland & Belgium. The routing twists and turns enough to leave you, now a bemused defender, with twisted blood. Only a couple of holes run back & forth. The visuals & placement of the bunkers is excellent and reminded me of those Simpson courses I’ve played in Belgium. But as mentioned, this course feels a tiny bit bigger.
#1 is nothing special as a getaway hole, although a cross bunker and the hard undulating fairway serve as a decent pre-match warm up. You need to get a few holes in before the land starts to get even more rumpled at around #4 or #5, the odd landform sneaks into view, and with this the holes immediately become more interesting. Driving the ball at angles over dune like banks at #9 & #10 is a joy & a pleasure. The par 3’s are great, especially #7 & #17 (I think). You’ll surely enjoy the puzzling fairway #15, which essentially gives you two routes to the green. I chose the racing line and it didn’t end well. The final hole is a fitting finish. After holing out, your thoughts drift to Agincourt - less than an hour away and the scene of a similar resounding British success on French soil.
This course is deservedly popular and draws an international crowd - as evidenced by my own group first bumping into a colleague on one fairway - despite us both being 400km from the office, and then hearing the cockney birdsong in amongst the trees throughout the round. Any golfers hoping for a diamond lights out experience should check this place out. Hardelot Les Pins is well worth your effort. And while you’re here, perhaps hoddle down the road to nearby Le Touquet La Mer - it’ll be a collaboration you and your mates won’t soon forget
Date: April 12, 2020