- +33 (0) 4 50 42 44 42
11 km W of Geneva airport
Welcome but contact in advance, weekdays only (max. handicap 28)
Peter Harradine and Olivier Dongradi
Richard Gillot, Jean-Pierre Turin
Lake Geneva is a beautiful body of water shared by Switzerland and France, with the Alps on the eastern and southern shores and the Jura on the western and northern ones. It is also surrounded by many golf courses. There are no less than four top-tier private clubs on the Swiss side and another five on the French side, including Maison Blanche, which opened in 1993.
Located about a15-minute drive from the Geneva international airport, in the foothills of the Jura, Golf & Country Club de Maison Blanche is a very private club which does not seek publicity. There is no information about the club online other than basic, practical data, and the club likes it that way. The club boasts 750+ members, all shareholders of the operating entity. It can therefore afford to limit the number of times a non-member can play the 18-hole course to just five times a year, to ensure that members can always find a suitable tee time.
Given its location in France, only a few kilometres from the Swiss border, the club’s membership is mixed to the point where, like other French clubs in the area (Esery and Bossey), Maison Blanche is registered with both the French and Swiss national golf bodies, and welcomes inter-club competitions from both sides.
The Maison Blanche Golf & Country Club offers an 18-hole championship course (Les Sources) and a 9-hole facility (L'Allondon), which is in fact maintained with the same attention to quality and detail as the main course. The 18-hole Les Sources was designed as a championship course from the beginning, and in fact it has hosted the Swiss Ladies Open back in 1996 and 1997 (won by Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson and France’s Marie-Laure de Lorenzi respectively). Its trademark is large, fast greens and the course is far from flat but there are a number of buggies for hire.
Peter Harradine wrote about Maison Blanche as follows: “Rolling hills, a fantastic scenery, a wonderful landscape, an interesting topography and a remarkable environment created an ideal site for a great golf course.”
“Our main concern was to provide a good golf course without ruining the natural environment, so we took full advantage of the topography and natural attributes to produce a course that is interesting, challenging, aesthetic and a worthy enhancement to this wonderful location.”“The creation of artificial lakes and limited earth-movements have allowed the formation of some superb holes. Four to five sets of tees have been constructed to accommodate all standards of golfers and most holes offer a variety of shot values and give the more proficient player a more difficult or heroic carry where the design demands it. The greens have been designed to allow a diversity of different pin positions which can constantly alter the difficulty of the approach shot.”
It was a very nice surprise to get to this course and play it. During a short family trip to Geneva I was invited to play on a Corporate Day and I have to say this course is not only stunning in beauty but also great in design and even better in maintenance.
The first good sensation came when I arrived to the Club House, elevated with fantastic panoramic views of the lake and mountains. Unfortunately some clouds avoided us to have a view of the Mont Blanc but on clear days they say the view is great.
Then off to the Driving Range, a very good facility with a Rugby Goal as target, which is very helpful to try and get your shots accurate for the course.
The second big surprise where the greens when I tested the putting green running at 13 in the stimp and with great breaks. I figured out it was going to be a challenge but coulndn't imagine how tough! It was very difficult for me to make a putt, I couldn't get the touch and timming of them, you need more than one round to understand them.
Then the course, with a lot of elevation changes, many doglegs and again fantastic views. It is great to watch you ball fly agains the mountain, it feels it is going to go forever. Great turf, tight lies and rough that made it tough to get the correct distance.
The front 9 has the nicest holes: par 5 4th paralel to a stream, par 4 5th dogleg right downhill with a small pond before the green, great 7th dogleg right again with a dowinhill second shot sorrounded by a great forest, par 3 8th with a stream in front of the green which breaks severely from back to front and great par 5 9th with water all along the left side which approaching the green makes it mandatory to carry it (reachable in 2, but very tough).
On the back 9 there is maybe less beauty but par 5 11th, tough par 4 14th, great par 3 15th and the great 18th are the best holes.
I was once told that Merion East 1st tee was intimidating as the restaurant was very close to it. Well, 10th tee here is as close as that one and maybe the best shot to hit as you have to go downhill and carry a bunker to get to the fairway.
It is a great track, it has the feeling of the private US Courses, excellent shape and very kind staff. There is some great golf in France which we need to discover.
Like most golf clubs around the Geneva Lake, The Golf & Country Club de Maison Blanche is nestled very close to the mountains surrounding the lake, in this case the Jura. The clubhouse itself is perched on a promontory overlooking the 10th tee and the 18th green. To go to the first tee you must carefully go down the steep hill, past the 18th green. The first 9-hole loop starts and ends at the flattish bottom of the narrow valley, on the other side of the access road.
Most of the holes offer wide fairways, and length can be a factor on some holes as the course spans 6136 meters from the back tees (5747 from the men’s tees). Water hazards show up on six holes, but really come into play on holes 5, 9, 11 and 18. Some of the more spectacular holes are the par-four 5th and par-five 9th, with tees sitting high above the fairway, and the 17th with a sea of bunkers guarding the green. Some par-fours require a very good tee shot to be able to see and reach the green in regulation, like the 7th and 14th.
The terrain is definitely undulated. Some holes seem flat, like the 1st, or the 7th, but many include sharp elevation changes (5th, 9th, 15th, 18th) or deep divides (6th, 8th, 11th). Going around the course is not an idle promenade. Some of the liaisons between holes are seriously uphill, like the path to the 6th tee, or the ones to the 13th and 15th tees. Reaching the clubhouse from the 18th tee makes for a tough finish. The drinks are well deserved!.
On the day we played the 18-hole course, the weather was perfect, and the course was in great condition. The fairways were flawless, the greens fast and true, and we only wished for our game to reach new heights to take full advantage of the round. Many holes on this golf course are not only magnificent to look at, but also great fun to play. Our favorites that day were the 5th, with its elevated tee and sharp dogleg right to a charming green protected by a small pond; the par-three 8th, where hitting the green seems the only hope to have a go at par, given the deep drop which all but swallows any ball left even just one meter short; the par-five 9th, again a very elevated tee overlooking a flat fairway lined by a river on the left, which suddenly crosses the hole just before the green. On the back nine, the par-five 11th offers a dangerous temptation to go for the green in two if your drive reached the bottom of the starting slope, but beware of the several, big bunkers! The par-four 14th is not only the highest index but also a scenic hole with a green emptying into a small valley where the 11th green and the 12th and 15th holes are located. And the 18th allows a great finish with a great point of view from the elevated tee onto the lake awaiting your misjudged approach shot, then to the large green and the clubhouse above it.
In retrospect, we found the first three holes to be a bit less challenging, but only because of the quality of the rest of the course.
“Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés”, a French poet once said (“In order to live happily, live hidden.”). Maybe the Maison Blanche members use this as a mantra for their club. If you go to Geneva and have a little time to spare however, this golf course is well worth discovering.