Only a half hour drive from Calais, Le Touquet is a high class and convenient destination, particularly for golfers based in southern England. Add good accommodation, 45 holes of golf and a cluster of other highly ranked local courses to the mix and you have all the ingredients for the perfect golf break as we discovered last week.
The "top of the bill" La Mer layout has undergone dramatic changes in recent times as golf course architects Patrice Boissonnas and Frank Pont have re-created much of the original links character of this fine old course. At the heart of the renovation were plans to restore five Colt/Alison holes from the original 1931 design which is not only of historical significance but has undoubtedly created a much improved back nine. Although one or two tree lined holes remain, much has been stripped back to leave a significantly more open and exposed aspect to this fast running and beautifully bunkered layout.
Unfortunately one hole still remains on the drawing board as local government ecologists have deemed that the re-construction of the original 17th would destroy an environmentally sensitive area. Hopefully this situation can be resolved in time as the Colt/Alison routing is far superior to the current hole which is almost certainly the weakest on the course.
The run of holes from 13 - 16 have now been fully restored in all their original glory providing not only more attractive but far more interesting holes. The strategic 15th was regarded by the great Tom Simpson as one of the best par-5's on the continent and the 16th, a classic long par-3 playing downhill to a nicely situated green, is certainly a beauty but often a beast when the wind blows. Two of the remaining par-3's will have you reaching for the camera. The 2nd at around 200 yards is a stunning hole with exquisite bunkering fronting the green and the tricky 10th requires a precise iron shot played over a valley to a raised green which falls away dramatically to the left. Of the longer holes I particularly liked 1, 8, 9, 11 and 12, the latter two leading us nicely into the new holes with some having raised greens which add to the level of difficulty.
Playing from the white markers at around 6,800 yards in light winds is certainly a tough proposition and these are not even the back tees. My guess is that most golfers will find the yellow tees offer more than enough challenges, particularly if the wind blows.
You may not beat La Mer but you can't help but love it. Brian W
Date: October 20, 2017