Golf des Aisses is located on a gorgeous 660 acre estate in the Sologne Forrest in the Loire Valley in France. The property is lush with mature silver birch, oak, and pine trees and purple heather and other dense ground cover. Some attractive and plentiful bunkering, and the occasional lake complement this smorgasbord of vegetation. It is a very attractive setting, and one could imagine how amazing it would like if the purple heather was in full bloom.
While the land is relatively flat, the course maintains a golfers interest using water features on a number of holes in the front nine, and a lovely routing that takes full advantage of the natural terrain, and the heavily forested environment. The forest frames the holes, but bunkering and heather give it definition.
Originally 27 holes were built at Les Aisses in three loops of nine holes – appropriately for a French course these were named the red, white and blue nines. The design by Olivier Brizon was apparently modern and a little eccentric. However in 2006 the owners employed Hawtree Limited to redesign the course, and this they did utilising most of the red and white nines. The blue nine is now known as La Canne, and the new eighteen holes is formally Les Aisses. Hawtree added a few new holes, and changed all tees, fairways and bunkers to resemble a course built in the Golden Age of golf architecture. In fact with its low lying sandy soil and surrounding woodlands the course is reminiscent of the classic London heathland courses. I loved the look and feel of the course with the dramatic bunkering, and heather prominent.
The course displays a combination of strategic and penal design with bunkering on both sides pinching fairways at driving length on short 4's, and at the length of the 2nd shot on par 5's. I thought this was a bit one-dimensional and I found the penalties on these holes did not even warrant consideration for taking risks.
The green settings and structure are very well done, bar 18 which has no bunkering and does not relate to rest of course in my opinion!
My favourite holes were; hole 13 – a ripping left to right dogleg hole defined by heather and bunkers, and hole 2 – another short tight dogleg with lateral water very much in play. This was followed by a good run of holes with the par 3, 3rd, par 5 fourth, and par 3 fifth all classy holes...
Overall I came away thinking Les Aisses is just a short step away from being a really top course. I think the back nine falls away a little at the end with a number of nice flat holes not quite to the standard of those preceding them. Nevertheless Les Aisses is a pleasure to play and not to be missed if you happen to be in the Loire Valley.
And while you are there, check out some of the famous chateaux!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Date: June 07, 2019