“This surprising golf course stands some 2,700 ft. above sea level,” said Bernard Darwin writing in The Times in 1913, reproduced in The Riviera Golf Courses. “On one side is a vast stretch of sea, not on this particular day of the proper Mediterranean blue, but pale and misty, so that one could not tell where the sea and sky met. On the other side is a huge panorama of mountains, snow-capped on a bright day; cloud-capped on this one, but perhaps all the more exciting for looming so mysteriously through the mist. The bigness of it all – the sensation that one might tumble straight down into the sea is beyond words; it is one of those places that deserve to be called the roof of the world.”
Founded in 1911, Monte-Carlo Golf Club has Willie Park Jr. to thank for designing its course, though the club’s website states the layout was “remodelled by the committee in 1983”. Today, the course extends to a shade over 6,000 metres from the back tees, playing to a par of 71 (35 out then 36 back).
Highlight holes include the first (and shortest) of the par threes at the downhill 148-metre 3rd, where a huge crescent-shaped bunker lies behind the green to capture over-hit tee shots. On the back nine, all three of the par fives are fine holes but the best of these is the 508-metre 18th, where the tree-lined fairway narrows markedly as it nears the home green (with another “catchment” bunker positioned behind it).
Nine editions of the Monte Carlo Open were staged here as European Tour events, starting in 1984. Ian Mosey claimed the first of these titles and he was followed onto the winner’s podium in subsequent years by a couple of Major winners; Seve Ballesteros (1986) and Ian Woosnam, who won the last three tournaments, starting in 1990.
The Peugeot Golf Guide describes the course as follows in this edited extract:
“The course has undergone refurbishment work (holes 9 and 10) but the layout has changed very little from Willie Park Jr.’s original blueprint of a century ago. It is not the hardest course around but the greens are smallish, topography sometimes severe and flat lies are in short supply.”