Location: Avenue du golf, 62520 Le Touquet, France
Website: www.letouquet.com ; www.manoirhotel.com/en/
Phone number: 33 03 21 06 28 28
Le Touquet Golf Club is one of the best golf destinations in Continental Europe. Located between a forest and dunes on the Opal Coast of north-west France, it features two championship courses that take advantage of the diverse environment. La Mer is a classic Scottish links-style course designed by British architect Harry Colt and built in 1931. It has hosted the French Open several times, the most recent of which the great Seve Ballesteros won in 1977. Elevated tees provide lovely views of the sea. La Forêt is laid out in the Le Touquet pine forest, which offers a more sheltered experience than the windy dunes. It was designed by fellow Englishman Horace Hutchinson and opened in 1904. The tranquility of the wooded course was broken when part of La Forêt was damaged in World War I. And again, as the Second World War intensified and Allied forces made landfall in France during June 1944, buildings surrounding the courses were bombed.
The courses have more recently undergone some major renovations to improve them for the modern game.
Independent website Top100golfcourses.com ranked La Mer as the 13th best course and La Forêt as the 54th in France in 2017. And 9-hole course Le Manoir – which was built in 1994 – is ideal for a quick hit in the late afternoon or a warm-up before the other courses.
The resort is about a two hours’ drive from Paris and you can check into Le Manoir, the historic on-site hotel that overlooks the golf courses.
“From a purely golfing point of view this is the best spot in Continental Europe that I’ve been to,” said German golf writer Ulrich Mayring. “In the area, you’ll have another world-class course in Hardelot Les Pins (designed by Tom Simpson) and if you venture an hour south there’s the hidden gem Golf de la Belle Dune.”
The challenges: For La Mer you’ll have to pay attention to the winds that whip off the English Channel and over the dunes. There are plenty of large bunkers to avoid, too, and fast greens. La Forêt has wider fairways but you’ll have to land the ball on smaller greens.
When to play: The courses are open year-round, although it gets close to freezing during January so you may want to play when it warms up.
Par: La Mer 72 ; La Forêt 71
Yardage: La Mer – 7032 yards, 6430 meters. La Forêt – 6314 yards, 5774 meters
Slope: La Mer 139. La Forêt 130
Best hole: Although La Mer’s sequence of holes from the 9th to the 11th are memorable, hole 10 – a 139-meter (152-yard) par three – stands out. La Forêt’s 454-meter (497-yard), par-5 hole 11 will test you.
The resort experience:
Le Manoir Hotel was the family home of Allen Stoneham, the founder of Le Touquet Golf Club, and the charm of the original early 20th-century manor remains. It’s a beautiful location: the hotel is surrounded by the Le Touquet Forest and overlooks the golf courses with the sea in the distance. The grand building was bombed during the Second World War in 1944. Following the conflict, it was transformed into a hotel to accommodate a growing number of golfers, according to manager Emmanuelle Christmann.
“Though the hotel suffered a lot during the War, Vincent Stoneham (son of Allen) and his wife Jean undertook a series of renovations and reconstructions to be able to satisfy a growing clientele,” he said. “Le Manoir Hôtel is the perfect place to stay for golfers as its position opposite La Forêt course makes it very easy and handy to take the bag out and walk to hole 1.
“The place being heavily marked by history, the hotel architecture is a blessing to old times, the bar fully inspired from English pubs.”
Golfers can also enjoy the facilities of the relatively new club house, which opened in 2016, Emmanuelle said.
“The Spoon, as it’s called, welcomes players (and non-players) to enjoy a fantastic view over La Forêt course. Its terrace is positioned to offer sunlight all day long.”
Le Manoir Hôtel was named Best Golf Resort in France in 2015 by Today’s Golfer.
Dine and wine: Restaurant l’Ecusson boasts of a high-quality cellar on the premises to go with à la carte menus inspired by seasonal products. The clubhouse also features a restaurant and English-style bar when you’ve finished playing.
The accommodation: The three-storey building has 41 rooms and suites. “Le Manoir is only a three-star hotel, but you’ll sleep (and pay) for a four-star and you’ll eat for a 4-star superior,” according to golf writer Ulrich Mayring. “It’s a great place for a couple to stay, but there aren’t the amenities you’d need for a family with kids.”
Other activities: Take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, which is open July and August, or take some racquets out for a hit on the tennis courts.