Horace Hutchinson originally designed the La Forêt course at Le Touquet and it opened for play in 1904. Lord Balfour, then the British Prime Minister, opened the course by cutting the traditional ribbon and then playing a round. The First World War destroyed part of the course, but it was soon restored so tournaments could once again be held on La Forêt. In 1958 Philip Mackenzie Ross was commissioned to renovate the layout.
La Forêt is set beautifully among pine trees which provides a calm and peaceful environment for all golfers whatever their handicap. It’s not as technically demanding as La Mer with wider fairways, but La Forêt has small and tricky greens which remain difficult targets to master.
At a touch over 5,800 metres, this is not the longest course you may play but the par four 13th must be taken seriously as it measures 421 meters and, as on La Mer, no resting on laurels here! A number of course improvements have recently been undertaken that include modifications to the 8th (stroke index 1) which is now fairer. The 14th and 15th holes have recently been renovated including new greens for the 11th and 14th holes.
La Forêt is an excellent accompaniment to the more sought after La Mer and a further 9-hole course “Le Manoir” par 35 and 2,800 metres long, lies inside the routing of the La Forêt which is an ideal course for beginners. Le Touquet is certainly the complete golf destination.
Charles Debruyne from Le Touquet Golf Resort told us the following in relation to the club’s staging of the Open de France:
“The routing that is used nowadays is the original one that hosted the Open before the Second World War, designed by Colt & Alison. After the war they used a 14-hole loop (instead of 18) on La Mer, with four holes from La Forêt, allowing a start and finish at the nearby Manoir Hotel, which was being used as a clubhouse at that time.”
After playing La Mer in the morning, I tackled La Forêt in the afternoon. It’s laid out on pretty flat ground close to the old clubhouse (now the hotel Le Manoir) so it’s not too taxing a walk, with holes arranged in two returning loops of nine around the clubhouse.
Unfortunately, when playing the two 18-hole Le Touquet courses in that order, it’s a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s show” when teeing it up here because La Forêt doesn’t have the same exciting landforms of its sibling, though four of its holes (I don’t know which ones, actually) were used when the French Open was hosted by the club in the past.
It’s pleasant parkland all the way then on La Forêt. Many of the greens are raised, bunkering is very neat and tidy, and it plays to just over 6,000 yards from the regular tees. Holes 1-3 and 18 surround the short 9-hole Manoir course and it was great to see so many families out together at the weekend playing on this layout.
Favourite holes on La Forêt included the doglegging par five 5th, the slightly downhill par three 8th and the par five 16th, where the fairway narrows considerably as it gets nearer the green. My pulse was never in danger of racing too fast during the round but it was nonetheless an agreeable experience which complemented the main event on La Mer next door very nicely.
This is a nice course played through the forest. Small and tricky greens are the order of the day but there are some very good holes here that make the course worth playing.
The first five holes are little more ordinary, played in between the holes of the lesser 9 hole course - these holes certainly lack the charm and character of the later holes.
6 is a strong hole. Played from an elevated tee in the trees, this is a long and tight par 5 with trees close in on either side. 8 and 9 are lovely holes - 8 doglegs left to a very narrow green and 9 doglegs the other way. Both are set beautifully in the trees and this is where the course really starts to get going.
The next few holes are great to play. Beautiful amongst the trees and tough, you need to be hitting it straight here. 17 is a lovely little par 3 played from an elevated tee and 18 is a cracking finish. Dogleg left with OB all the way down the right, you need to shape your tee shot here. Once managed, the green is quite large and gives you a good chance to walk off the course with a smile on your face.
Overall, a really nice course that is beautiful after a slow start and is worth playing if in this part of France.
This is definitely the lesser of the two courses but a nice round anyway. We have just finished 8 rounds in 8 days and of the courses we played I would rate this behind Wimereux, Belle Dune, the Hardelot courses and Touquet La Mer but ahead of Dunkirk and St Omer.
The course was in good condition and while there are some nice holes the start of the course 1-5 is a bit of a let down.
Additionally while we only ended up with a 4:15 round it took 20 minutes to play the first hole.
If you have one course to play in the area this is not it, but if you are away for a few rounds this makes for a nice opener.