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How many times have you heard of friends at your club heading off to the south-west for a golf break? Not that often, I’ll wager.
And yet the Aquitaine area has as many courses in Golf World’s Continental Europe Top 100 as fabled Sotogrande. Or Lisbon. Or the whole of Belgium. Just think about that for a moment. This relatively unheralded region of France has as many elite courses as the whole of Belgium (or Italy, or Turkey, or Switzerland, or Germany for that matter).
Why are golfers not flocking there? Impossible to answer, because off the course the attractions are equally alluring, and what’s more it’s easy to get to too. The courses are the main appeal though, and boast a pleasing variety to their consistent level of premium quality.
They are headed by the Golf du Médoc resort, which now has two courses in Golf World’s Top 100. The Chateaux course rose to No.15 in the 2015 vintage, due reward for a wonderful heathland laid out by Bill Coore of Coore-Crenshaw fame. It is a magnificent course with echoes of Walton Heath, and is backed up by the Vignes course, which entered the Top 100 last year too. It didn’t just come in, it entered at No.52 – a good indication of how highly rated the heathland by Coore’s design partner Rod Whitman is. A neat hotel adds to the experience of Golf du Médoc, to the north of Bordeaux and an ideal entry point for a trip here.
Drive an hour south and you come to Moliets, a wonderful parkland-links hybrid within a vibrant holiday camp. The parkland phases at the start and end are perfectly fine – and probably underrated in fact, as a result of the sensational seaside section that follows. Trust us when we say you will be talking about these ocean-side holes with your travel companions for years to come. Moliets’ beachside holes on the back nine are as good as absolutely anything on the whole continent. A special experience.
Next stop? Seignosse, which is one of Europe’s beautiful beasts. At times beguilingly attractive, at other times it can be more exacting than Carnoustie. Thus, it is a must play. Some might find it overly taxing at times, where even a short-iron approach causes perspiration in the palms, but the majority will relish this relentlessly astute examination among pine trees and around water hazards. Laid out by the enigmatic Robert Von Hagge, Seignosse has a few houses surrounding it whose price tag would make even a Sheikh blush; that’s the kind of place it is.
Further south, but only by a few minutes, is Hossegor. This is a taste of England, a leafy parkland where you can score very nicely if you keep it straight. It lacks the pyrotechnics of others aforementioned, but it is nice compliment among the high drama elsewhere.
Finally in this area, to Chiberta, another hybrid of sedate inland appeal and seaside excitement. It is part of a retro chic holiday complex and a couple of days here enjoying the golf course and some of the finer things in life would disappoint few. Chiberta, to the north of Biarritz, isn’t quite as consistently good as others in the region but some high points give it a slot in the 50s of our Continental 100. Joining it in the future could be the latest arrival to the area – the feted Tom Doak’s exciting newcomer at Saint Emilionnais.
You want for nothing when you visit the south west of France.