Top 100 Golf Courses expands its coverage of courses in France to a Top 100
We extend our presentation of courses in France by more than doubling the content
There’s been a big shake up, a very big shake up in fact, with the re-ranking process that has produced the latest edition of our French ranking chart. We’ve recognised for a while now that we’ve hardly done justice to the large number of very good golf courses in France. We also realise this is a situation that goes back eight years to 2008, when we first began listing a small percentage of the country's top tracks.
Having established a national Top 40 four years ago, we were contemplating a modest increase in our 2016-17 coverage by adding another ten courses, but a number of factors, including recent access to additional data streams, has allowed us to make more of a quantum leap in our Gallic golfing presentation with the production of a national Top 100 chart for France.
We’re satisfied that the Top 50 tracks are pretty much in the correct order as we’ve been appraising the majority of them for a few years now. Of course, the bottom half of the standings is a different matter, and we freely admit that it might take another edition or two before we get things right. For the time being though, we’ve made as honest an attempt as possible to line up all the best courses in the right sequence.
And so, taking a look at our new Top 100, Tom Simpson’s Morfontaine remains our number 1, which is hardly surprising when you consider it occupies the top spot in our Continental Europe Top 100. Some might also consider this classic old track to be ranked a little too low at number 34 in our current World Top 100 listings but it certainly deserves its status as one of the very best golf courses on the planet.
As one recent reviewer commented: “absolutely worthy of its position at the top of the tree in Continental Europe. Wonderful location, with ample space for the remarkable routing which both challenges and delights.” And another reviewer endorsed this by saying: “A truly wonderful and unique experience. Not sure what to expect save the bar was set very high and was not disappointed.”
Positions 2 to 4 in our new chart stay the same as before but Prince de Provence at Vidauban rises one place to number 5. This Robert Trent Jones Snr course underwent an extensive renovation program during the winter of 2014 when new irrigation and drainage systems were installed and these improvements have obviously impressed those who have seen the results of this work. We also hope to return for a further visit soon to cast an eye over the upgrade for ourselves.
Leaping six places up to number 6, the old Harry Colt-designed course and nine-time French Open venue at Saint Germain has undergone a substantial amount of restoration work in recent years and it’s one of a number of French layouts that were identified during our recent European re-ranking exercise as languishing too low in the listings.
Bill Coore’s Châteaux course at Médoc (up two to 8), the Robert von Haage-designed Seignosse (up two to 9) and Martin Hawtree’s remodelled Les Aisses (up five to 10) also make such significant upward moves as a direct result of some positive discrimination carried out during our European reappraisal process.
Belle Dune makes good progress in our new chart, rising nine places to number 16. Situated at the southern end of the beautiful Côte d’Opale, this coastal course is only one of several highly regarded layouts in this particular region, as confirmed by a recent reviewer who said: “We play this course and the four courses at Le Touquet and Hardelot every year and have not had one bad experience at any of them.”
Two hundred and forty miles along the same coastline in Normandy lies the small town of Bréville sur Mer and next to it the Bay of St Michel, where the Links layout at Granville (up sixteen to number 18) lies. The book “True Links” by George Peper and Malcom Campbell cites this course as the only true links in the whole country and it’s a wonderful old Harry Colt design from 1912 which has been restored by both Martin Hawtree and, in more recent times, Stuart Hallett.
A little further down the chart, Gary Player’s first French design at Château de Taulane also makes a double digit rise in the rankings (up ten to number 25). This course lies a little off the beaten track, a good 90-minute drive from Cannes on the Côte d’Azur, but recent 5-ball and 6-ball reviews suggest it’s well worth making the journey inland to sample the wonderful fusion of golf and nature in the foothills of the Provence Alps.
Looking at the new entries, some might question the lofty position of the highest newcomer, Grand Saint-Emilionnais, which enters at number 23. Only unveiled last year, Tom Doak’s first project in Continental Europe was built for the Mourgue d’Algue family, who are big players in French golfing circles, and the architect’s trademark minimalist design is already being hailed as one of the best to have opened anywhere this millennium. Of course, only time will tell just how good the course is and we look forward with eager anticipation to the reviews that are bound to follow in the months to come.
The next highest new entry is Dinard at number 30. The club claims an inauguration date of 1887 so this makes it the second oldest in Europe, established thirty-one years after Pau and only one year ahead of both Biarritz and Royal Antwerp. Laid out on Brittany’s Emerald Coast, the course is very short at less than 5,350 metres from the medal tees. Sadly, it’s been revised so many times down the years there’s little left of Tom Dunn’s original design though it’s still a course that merits respect and admiration from golfing aficionados.
Médoc (Vignes) also makes a laudable entrance at number 33, further enhancing this resort’s reputation as one of the best 36-hole venues in all of France. Situated in the Pian-Médoc region, to the north of Bordeaux, the Vignes has for a long time played second fiddle to the slightly older Châteaux course (where the French Open was held the year it opened in 1989) but many now think there’s little to choose between either 18-hole layout.
To view further details of the Top 100 for France click the link.
We always welcome your opinion when we publish updated national rankings so feel free to let us know what you think of our new Top 100 for France. Have we left out a course or included one that shouldn’t be considered. Is there a particular layout positioned either too high or too low in the chart? Please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of the page if you’d like to make us aware of your thoughts.
23 February 2016 Respond to this article