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La Boulie (La Vallée)

Versailles, Île-de-France
Versailles, Île-de-France
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Willie Park Junior is credited with laying out or redesigning a number of French courses around the turn of the 19th century (including Dieppe, Evian-les-Bains and Monte-Carlo) and he was also responsible for remodeling the original La Vallée course at La Boulie.

Owned by the Racing Club de France, a club that offers its members the opportunity to participate in sixteen different sports, La Boulie is a historically important golf site as it was the location for the first French Open championships in 1906, won by Arnaud Massy.

Indeed, a total of twenty national titles have been decided here and more recent winners include Peter Oosterhuis (1973), Nick Faldo (1983) and Seve Ballesteros, who claimed his fourth and final French Open victory in 1986, the last time the event was held at this venue.

In 1963, the 11th edition of the Canada Cup – the precursor to the once-prestigious annual World Cup of Golf tournament – was also contested at La Boulie, the first time the event had been played on the continent of Europe, with the two-man team of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus winning the competition for the USA.

The American team of Todd Demsey, Allen Doyle, John Harris and Tiger Woods also triumphed at La Boulie in 1994, holding off a strong challenge from Great Britain & Ireland to win the 19th edition of the Eisenhower Trophy, the biennial world amateur team championship for men.

Today, the Vallée course extends to 5,995 metres, which is actually shorter than its sister course, the Forêt, which opened for play in 1968. Not only is the newer course longer, it’s also rated the tougher of the two tracks, with a slope index of 141 (against the 138 of La Vallée).

Still, there’s nothing to beat walking the tree-lined fairways of the older course and thinking about the greats of the game – such as JH Taylor, James Braid and Walter Hagen – who all managed to win the French Open here during La Boulie’s earlier golfing heydays.

The book 500 world’s greatest golf holes by author George Peper and the editors of GOLF magazine features the 213-yard par three 10th hole on La Boule’s La Vallée course: “The gorgeous countryside of the French Racing Club near Versailles provides a splendid palette for this artistic hole. From a tee that sits nearly thirty feet above the green, the player is able to see a nearly uninterrupted forest of pine and oak trees, along with the large but well-guarded target. A phalanx of bunkers, their edges flowing upward to the fringe, surrounds the green almost completely. The slick putting surface slopes from back to front, ringed by fringe and rough reminiscent of US Open courses.”

Willie Park Junior is credited with laying out or redesigning a number of French courses around the turn of the 19th century (including Dieppe, Evian-les-Bains and Monte-Carlo) and he was also responsible for remodeling the original La Vallée course at La Boulie.

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Willie Park Jr.

​Willie Park Jr. was born in Musselburgh, the second of four sons of (Old) Willie Park, four-time Open Champion. Young Willie won the Open twice himself, becoming one of five Musselburgh men to do so.

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