Route du Golf 3,
- +41 (0) 21 784 84 84
5 km NE of Lausanne
Contact in advance, members only on weekends and holidays
Hermann Narbel and Donald Harradine, Jeremy Pern
Vincent Brizon, Christophe Bovet, Michael More
Golf Club de Lausanne was founded in 1921 with nine holes and was expanded to eighteen in 1931 by Hermann Narbel. During WWII the course was reduced to nine holes, before going back to its original design in 1947. In 1962, the club was able to buy an abutting farm and land, which allowed Hermann Narbel and Donald Harradine to redesign the course by lengthening some holes, planting most trees seen nowadays and creating three new holes (today’s 11th, 12th and 13th). The club finally brought in Jeremy Pern in 1996 to modernise the layout.
“The renovation saw the complete reconstruction of all eighteen green complexes,” said Jeremy Pern, “the creation of a new putting green, installation of a new irrigation system and associated drainage works, the enlargement and lining of existing ponds, some tree clearance and refurbishment of several tees and fairway bunkers.”
The clubhouse was recently renovated over a period of fifteen years finishing in 2012 with the extension of the restaurant, and in 2015 the irrigation system was totally updated.
Golf Club Lausanne maintains a very traditional club philosophy. Its 1,000 members are pampered, and encouraged to practice golf as a sport. The club has very few buggies but maintains 500 electric trolleys in a very impressive, 1,000 square-metre underground garage. The junior section is 150 members strong, and there are still five permanent caddies on the premises (there used to be 40-60 caddies up to the mid-nineties when members would take caddies out systematically). The current Director of the golf club started as a caddy and was the caddy master for twenty years before becoming the Director in 2005.
Situated only a few kilometres outside Lausanne near the north shore of Lake Geneva, this hilly parkland course has most holes routed through woods of majestic chestnut, birch and fir trees. Old-fashioned short par fours at the 7th and 12th holes are more than matched by long par fives to close the front and back nines, giving the course an overall length of 6,197 metres from the tips. The views to the distant Alps add a thrilling perspective to playing at Lausanne, contributing greatly to the experience of teeing it up at such a classical parkland golf course.
Lausanne has hosted a number of important amateur tournaments, including the 1982 Eisenhower Trophy and the 2002 St Andrews and Jacques Léglise trophies. The club has also staged professional events, including the 1997 Ladies Swiss Open and the 2008 Swiss Omnium, which was won by Switzerland’s Ken Benz when he was an amateur. Lausanne intends to continue hosting such events every few years.
The Lausanne golf course is closed from the beginning of December until mid-March every year so the season is only 8.5 months long. In addition, this year’s weather through spring has been pretty wet and cold all the way to the first day of summer, so when we played this course on June 24th we expected it to be in sub-optimal condition.
The course proved to be a very pleasant surprise, as the fairways were in prime condition, even though there were several small wet areas remaining on the edges, carefully marked as GUR. The greens had a respectable speed to them, which helped make them difficult to read as there were slopes aplenty, either due the two-tier design of many of them, or to the more subtle tilt and undulation of most surfaces.
The club has changed its strategy to strengthen the course recently with the help of an Irish course management consultancy: the surface of the greens and front green aprons are being hardened so that pitching your approach shot onto the green (almost all elevated as a result of Jeremy Pern’s 1996 redesign) may not be enough to stop the ball on the green. Using the apron just before the green is almost necessary to slow your ball down. As a compensation, the rough around the greens and even the fairways is kept shorter than in the past. The course’s main defense is the trees lining every fairway, and especially the fir trees with very low branches ready to kidnap any stray drive or long fairway shot.
Both nine hole loops start and end fairly similarly. The 1st and 10th are par fours with generous fairways, with a slight dogleg right. The 9th and 18th are longish but not particularly difficult par fives. However, the resemblance stops there. The first six holes are fairly long and level, except for the par three 3rd, and range among the higher half of handicap rating. The last three holes may give you a bit of a breather. The holes are not exactly flat, but not really hilly either.
The second loop goes through a stretch of five holes (11 to 15) with noticeable elevation changes and quirks which may make visiting players yearn for a bit of local knowledge. The 11th is a downhill par three where being short will most surely land you in the bunker barring the front of the green. The 12th is short, but from the tee you need to forget the driver to improve your odds of reaching the narrow landing surface at the bottom of the hill then take an approach shot back up to the green. The par five 13th seems average from the tee shot, but your drive will land in a deep, hidden dip and you will have to negotiate a second shot over two oversized hillocks which hide completely the uphill landing area. If you don’t reach the green in two, your third shot will be blind and abruptly uphill to a smallish green. The 14th is a longish par four, but straight with an uphill finish. The 15th includes the only water hazard of the course, although it should not be a real problem as the two ponds on either side of the hole are not really close to the green, and out of range for the drive.
The weather was great, the condition of the course superb, the views magnificent, the layout interesting and varied, all in all, a pretty good afternoon on a course that has to be among the best in Switzerland!