Golf du Médoc is located to the north of Bordeaux, which everyone knows, or ought to know, is the world capital of wine. There are more than one hundred thousand hectares of vineyards in this amazing region of France, so it seems fitting that the best course at Médoc is called Les Châteaux.
The Châteaux course was the first to open at Golf du Médoc (1989) and it was only the third solo design from Bill Coore's portfolio and his first and only European project, which he completed with Rod Whitman. Fittingly, each hole is named after a Médoc vintage, but the style of the Chateaux courses is anything but French.
The course is routed across flat open country in the fashion of an inland links and there’s even heather, gorse and broom waiting to catch the wayward shot. Naturally this is not a links course, but when the wind blows in a westerly direction off the Atlantic, you may be forgiven for momentarily thinking that you are beside the sea.
The Châteaux extends to just less than 6,600 metres which is pretty lengthy considering it only has three par fives (the 2nd, 10th and 14th) on the card. Both par threes on the front nine (at the 5th and 8th holes) are very intimidating as tee shots must carry all the way to greens perched on the edge of rather large lakes. One of the best holes on the inward half is the dogleg left par four 11th where a stream crosses the fairway then runs all the way up the left to the rear of the putting surface, punishing both stray drives and wayward approach shots.
Thirty years on from when the Château course at Medoc first opened for play, it’s easy to see now that even back then both Bill Coore and Rod Whitman were ahead of the game regarding the style and build of modern golf courses; offering fairway width, beautifully sculpted rough-edged bunkers and greens with plenty of interesting internal contour.
The Vignes course (which I unfortunately didn’t have time to play because of a late start on the Château due to fog and only managed to see via a quick buggy ride) also looks a fine complementary layout, offering resort visitors the chance to indulge in a 36-hole day of high quality golf – weather permitting, of course!
On such a relatively flat landscape, I can understand why a) so many of the greens have been pushed up to add visual stimulation and b) the putting surfaces are often edged with fearsome looking sand traps – and speaking of bunkers, the centreline hazards on the 1st were more than a little perplexing when teeing off just as the fog was lifting, not realizing they were an integral part of a clever split fairway!
Ponds came into play at both the par threes on the front nine, which felt a little predictable, but the two short holes on the back nine at #12 and #17 were free of water and both played to sand-protected greens instead. I felt the 18th was also a little anticlimactic, with resort accommodation buildings running along the left side of the fairway.
The 10th (“La Moulin”) is now a slightly right doglegged par five, having been lengthened in recent years (so the course now plays to an overall par of 71) but my favourite hole was the doglegged 11th, where a ditch crosses the fairway as it veers to the left then this water course runs alongside the hole before circling the back of the green.
It’s more an amalgam of parkland and heathland on the Château and comparisons to an “inland links” – whatever that might be – are a bit wide of the mark in my opinion. Whichever way you care to categorize the course, it’s still a pleasure to play and installing yourself at Médoc to spend time playing high quality golf and exploring some of the local wineries makes eminent sense to me.
Bordeaux is the most famous wine region in the world- there are apparently over a hundred thousand hectares of vineyards in the area.
Any visitor to France should aspire to visit the region and its Grand Cru Class wineries.
Fortunately for golfers Golf du Medoc is a quality 36-hole golf resort located in the Bordeaux area, thus enabling savvy golfers to get the best of both worlds.
Coore & Crenshaw are now regarded as one of the premier golf architecture firms around, but the Chatueax course at Golf du Medoc was built by Bill Coore in 1989 and was very early in his design career. He did a good job!
The course is regarded as one of the best courses in France and has hosted the French Open.
The Chateaux course is sited in sandy soil surrounded by forest- however it is virtually flat terrain, which can make it more of a challenge to retain the interest as top courses do. There are advantages however with a flat site – it is easy to walk!
The course has a good variety of holes and well thought out strategies on every hole, starting with hole 1 with it's split fairway.
Coore has incorporated large raised greens with some steep fronts – particularly on the long par 4 ninth (Dauzac) and the 18th (Leoville Poyferre). It's a technique which has added definition to these holes.
The water holes provide some variation in look and feel of the course. The par 3 5th and 8th holes have lake carries, and lateral water. They are the postcard holes!
My favourite holes include the par 4 eleventh hole (Lascombes) with a burn running across the fairway on an angle at driving length and then down the left side of the fairway. The split fairway first hole (Lagrange) is also a beauty!
Unusually for a well-known golf resort, there are no conveniences on course, nor access to water. There are no distance markers other than those in the shape of large Bordeaux bottles at 135 metres to the front of green. Appropriately the holes at the Chateaux course are all named after Grand Cru Class wines.
Paths from green to tees were pretty rough during our stay, and not pleasant to walk or cart on – one can only assume they would not normally be like that. The resort accommodation and restaurant are modern and comfortable.
Golf du Medoc is a very good 36-hole resort and a perfect base from which to explore the famous Bordeaux wineries.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I really like my new home courses. Les chateaux is a proper beast, real tournament golf course. It's long and tough. Greens are huge, elevated and very undulated! A real privilege to play here on a regular basis. If tournament style courses aren't your thing, the les vignes course is very good too...