Situated on the cliff tops above the little town of Port en Bessin, the 36-hole golf complex at Golf Omaha Beach lies less than five kilometres west of the Longues-sur-Mer battery, an artillery position that formed part of Germany's Atlantic Wall coastal fortifications during World War II.
Golf got under way here in 1986 when the 9-hole Les Ėtanges course was unveiled, followed by the 18-hole, par 72 La Mer layout a year later. In 2006, the original 9-hole track at Omaha Beach was extended to an 18-hole, par 71 course and renamed Le Manoir.
La Mer is the championship layout at the club, hosting two editions of the now defunct Open de France Senior tournament in 1994 and 2004. Playing to 6,166 metres from the back tees, the course is more than capable of testing both elite amateurs and professionals.
Holes are named after prominent Allied participants, with the heavily sand protected 6th (“General Omar Bradley”) a real feature hole on the front nine. On the inward half, the 145-metre 15th (“General G. Crerar”) is the best short hole on the card, played to a terrific two-tiered green.
The 36-hole golf complex at Golf Omaha Beach is located on the cliffs above the little coastal town of Port-en-Bessin, which was liberated by 47 Royal Marine Commando on 6th-7th June 1944 as part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings during World War II.
There’s a large plaque behind the 6th green on the course commemorating this and the role Port-En-Bessin played in the “PLUTO” petrol pipeline project, which was designed to supply fuel via cross-channel pipelines – unfortunately, it’s thought less than 10% of all the fuel delivered to Allied forces actually came via that route.
Golf Omaha Beach is named after one of the main landing sites for Allied troops during Operation Overlord, when more than forty thousand infantry overcame the resistance of the German Army along the coastal area between the small towns of Vierville-sur-Mer and Saint-Honorine-des-Pertes to the west of the resort.
Today, hostilities have long ceased but the club often hosts large groups of people staying at the Hôtel Mercure Omaha Beach next door or others who are visiting the nearby museums and monuments to honour those who fell during the conflict. The walls of the clubhouse are full of photos taken during commemoration golf events, many of which are held annually.
Out on the course, I didn’t have time to play both layouts so chose to play only La Mer, which is recognized as the premier 18-hole track. Fairways were generally wide and forgiving, as you’d expect at a resort, and there was hardly a a single water hazard to be found, which was a big surprise. The front nine is divided into two compartments, with the best holes located in the section from the 5th to the 8th, nearest to the coastline.
A road is also crossed twice on the back nine – before the 13th and after the 16th – and the four holes located in this part of the course are situated on the best ground, highlighted by the par three 15th, which plays slightly uphill to a well-bunkered green that slopes markedly from back to front, with stands of mature trees beautifully framing the hole.