- AddressLes Grands Rondis, 41220 Saint-Laurent-Nouan, France
The Loire Valley has many a romantic pseudonym, including the Valley of the Kings and the Garden of France. It’s certainly an enchanted and historical region with its vineyards and chateaux. Set in the middle of this Renaissance is the beauty and the beast that is Les Bordes.
Les Bordes was the brainchild of Baron Marcel Bich (the man behind Bic pens) and his friend Yoshiaki Sakurai. Together they committed to paper (presumably by biro) the wooded masterpiece that is consistently ranked as one of the Europe’s greatest courses.
Designed by Texan, Robert von Hagge, on a day when he was at his most wickedly creative. Les Bordes opened for play in 1986 and it’s a supreme challenge. The likeable Jean Van de Velde holds the current course record of 71 (one under par) so don’t visit Les Bordes expecting to play to handicap, this monster layout stretches to 7,062 yards from the tips. It really is as difficult as its reputation suggests.
La Sologne occupies an area of approximately 1,500 sq kilometres and the region offers tranquil walks around lakes and woodland and von Hagge has utilised some of Sologne’s lakes to dramatic effect with island greens and water coming into play on no less than twelve holes.
Les Bordes has a slight American feel to it, both in terms of design and conditioning but there is no doubting that you are in France. There is more style here on this tournament condition layout than just about any other course in France. And what’s most impressive is that visitors can actually stay and play here these days… what sheer unadulterated delight.
Gil Hanse fashioned a new 18-hole course to the west of the existing 18-hole von Hagge layout, which officially opened in July 2021. Playing corridors were previously carved through the trees for a second course when the original course (now called the Old) was constructed, but the latest design (named the New) pays scant regard to what was done before.
The New Gil Hanse-designed course at Les Bordes
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Robert von Hagge was literally born and raised on a golf course, working as a caddy, shop boy, maintenance man, assistant superintendent and assistant professional – all before his 17th birthday.