French super-club Les Bordes has officially unveiled its second golf course and it looks absolutely incredible!
Designed by Gil Hanse, the man behind Castle Stuart, Streamsong Black and the Rio Olympics Course, Les Bordes’ eagerly awaited New Course is now open for play.
Situated in France’s Loire Valley, just 60 miles south of Paris, the course was officially opened by the world-renowned architect who hit the inaugural tee shot as he unveiled his first golf-course design project in continental Europe.
Originally conceived as Europe’s answer to Augusta National, the club already has a Robert von Hagge design which is our Continental European No.3, and we will be heading to Orleans to get a first play of Hanse’s creation with a view to ranking it in our new continental list in the autumn.
In direct contrast to Les Bordes’ Old Course, the New Course features a more traditional heathland style. When combined with the 10-hole short course – the Wild Piglet, also created by Hanse and opened in 2020 – members of Les Bordes Golf Club will receive one of the greatest golfing experiences in the world.
“We’ve never built anything in continental Europe and we wanted to make sure that our first project was going to be something special, and Les Bordes gave us that opportunity,” Hanse said.
“I have always loved visiting France, and to have the chance to create this course and leave a lasting legacy in such a beautiful part of the world makes me particularly proud.
“The golf facilities at Les Bordes are on a par with anywhere else in the world. When you consider the variety and contrast of the Old and New, the originality and quality of design coupled with the Wild Piglet and Himalayas putting green, across the board there are outstanding facilities for serious golf and fun golf – and there are very few places who can say that.
“One of the challenges that we were excited to accept was to have the chance to build a golf course on the same estate as (the Old Course), a course that has been ranked as the best in Europe.
“There are elements of a number of golf courses (in the New Course) including a lot of the great heathland courses around London and Paris. I think that I am always influenced by Pine Valley, which is very near to my home, and I think that some of the scale of National Golf Links is apparent out theretoo. If you roll all of those into one, I think that’s a pretty good recipe.
“With the three golf courses and the amenities that are already in place and the ones that are coming, I can’t see how Les Bordes won’t be considered one of the finest golfing destinations in Europe or in the world.”
Set in the magical Sologne Forest, the New Course fits harmoniously into its surroundings, with the fairways blending seamlessly into the natural vegetation and trees, and maximum care and attention was taken by Hanse and his team to clear the location and preserve the natural environment.
Featuring large bunkers, subtle elevation changes and incredible green complexes, the layout measures 7,211 yards from the back tees but, in contrast to the Old Course, is expected to play shorter than its overall length due to the firm and fast playing conditions.
“The opening of the New Course is a significant landmark in the history of Les Bordes and the culmination of many years of hard work from Gil and his team, and everyone here on the estate,” said Jack Laws, director of golf at Les Bordes.
“The New Course is an outstanding golf course with truly exceptional architecture. It’s incredibly exciting what Gil has achieved here, and its addition means that our members and guests will be in the enviable position of being able to enjoy two world-class, but very different golfing experiences.”
RELATED: Castle Stuart Golf Club review
The course opening headlines three years of investment at Les Bordes to create a perfect resort for the whole family. Completed on-site amenities include natural swimming lakes and pools, beaches, watersports, go-karting, fishing, equestrian, petting farm and biking and walking trails.
Future investment plans include an announced partnership with Six Senses for the transformation of the 19th century ‘Chateau Bel Air’ into a luxury hotel and spa, a village square with shops and restaurants and a variety of residential homes in various styles, as well as an equestrian centre, an organic farm, an art gallery and outdoor amphitheatre.
Gill Hanse on Les Bordes’ New Course
What characteristics of an English heathland will the course have?
The New is very responsive to the landscape that it sits in. It really melts in wonderfully and, from my understanding and observation of the heathland courses, that is one of the hallmarks; that everything seems to fit quite nicely. We’re trying to create some heather areas on the property so that the vegetation will feel similar, but I think it’s generally the very low-profile, natural way the golf course sits in the ground.
Which heathland would it most resemble – is it open heath like Walton Heath or a bit more enclosed like parts of Sunningdale and The Berkshire?
We do have the diversity of the nines, with the front nine quite open and the back nine reasonably enclosed, which is good. We have got quite a bit of variety, with the front resembling the more open heathland courses and the back nine much more like Sunningdale, a tough course with mature wood lines.
It is a nice characteristic to have, that we were able to be very protective of the natural wood lines so they added a tremendous amount of character versus us trying to establish wood lines from scratch.
Does it showcase the ‘wide fairway, interesting greens’ philosophy that UK golfers know from Castle Stuart?
Yes, I think there is certainly a similarity to that. We want playable corridors, but the angles in order to score on the course are relevant to the access portions of these interesting green complexes.
Can you pick out a couple of holes that you especially like?
The 15th, a short par 4, would be one of them. When we were working on it we talked through the philosophy and then (Hanse Golf Course Design partner) Jim Wagner shaped and executed it wonderfully and added some tremendous character to it.
On the front nine, I’ve always liked the 6th, just the way it flows through the landscape and the different breaks. It’s reminiscent a little bit of Tom Simpson – the English designer who worked on Morfontaine, Ballybunion and so on – with segmented fairways and the way the green lays so simply on the ground.
Tell us about The Wild Piglet short course and The Himalayas putting green, which you’ve also designed.
One of the things that golf is doing a better job on right now, and Les Bordes is certainly offering that with The Himalayas putting green and The Wild Piglet, is just fun. Fun and access, and providing an easy entry point to the game. You can go out and laugh at yourself, have a good time and not worry about losing golf balls or have the pressures of playing a full-size golf course.
Our attempt there was to create a very fun and playable experience, but also one where a good player could go out there and be tested with shots. In order to succeed on The Wild Piglet, you’ve got to hit some really good shots, but you’ve also got the opportunity to just go out there and bang it around and have fun.
One of the things that Jim Wagner and I worked with the team on was, basically, giving everybody their own golf hole or holes, and just letting everybody have a crack at it. It was fun and I think that if you go into your own little incubator, independent of everybody around you, it gives you the opportunity to be as creative as you want.
Then, ultimately, Jim and I would take a look but I don’t think that we’ve edited things very much. You have some individual expressions out there that, when put together, comprises 10 really fun, unique golf holes.
Find out more about Les Bordes at www.lesbordesgolfclub.com