La Mer at Le Touquet

La Mer is an outstanding golf course. It always has been. The great news for lovers of quality links golf is that it has just been refurbished and restored to its original principles - and is now better than ever. This corresponds with a smart new clubhouse and an elegant spruce up at Le Manoir Hôtel, just yards from the clubhouse. 
 
The course, which was originally opened in the early 1900’s, enjoyed great success in its early days and benefitted from the popularity of Le Touquet as one of the first locations for the jet set. Indeed, Le Touquet had the second busiest airport in France after Paris, long before jets were invented. Le Touquet provides the perfect access to France for the well-to-do, who were enjoying the booming fashion of aeroplanes. This put Le Touquet on the map, making it an ‘it’ place for the rich and famous in the ‘roaring’ 20s and 30s. The casual style of the resort remains, but has been through some interesting changes over the last century. 
 
Pre war, the course was served by a highly luxurious hotel, which would have shamed Dubai today with its outrageous luxury. This brought hundreds of seriously wealthy visitors and many of these lucky loot-laden people started their golfing careers at Le Touquet Golf Resort. Luckily it had a great pair of courses, with the renowned course architects, Harry Colt and Hugh Alison, laying out the designs for the tougher of the two tracks - La Mer (The Sea), which is a wonderful links. It has no views of the coast itself, but you can smell, taste and hear the sea. Indeed, Harry Colt must have been aware of all of his senses as he planned this wonderful dance through the dunes. 
 
Le Touquet Golf Resort has staged 4 French Opens on the La Mer course, the last of which was won by Seve Ballesteros, and measures well over 7000 yards for its par 72. Colt and Alisons’ original design dates from 1931. The course was closed during the war and did not reopen until the 1950’s, by which time the world had changed and so had the course. Earlier revisions of this original layout had been made to help with the routing, as the course was some distance from the main clubhouse and Le Manoir Hotel. Unfortunately, this led to a hybrid course – a mix of parkland and links, which moved away from the original links feel for the whole course.  It was still a stunning place to play, but its renovations have now been formally recognised, with Le Touquet Golf Resort winning the Redevelopment of the Year 2018, awarded by Golf Inc. Magazine.  
 
The Boissonnas family have owned both Le Touquet Golf Resort and its neighbour Golf d’Hardelot since the 1990’s and are determined that the courses will offer only the very best to golfers across Europe. Patrice Boissonnas is a Paris-based golf course architect and was delighted to be involved with the family treasure. His brother runs the resort and his father is still the Chairman. Patrice and his colleague Frank Pont have made a wonderful job of all of the renovations, and are especially proud of the reinstatement of the thirteenth to sixteenth holes, which were lost to the dunes after bombardment during the war and reconstructed after the discovery of old aerial photography and a surveyor’s map. These new works will probably result in a new clubhouse to serve La Mer course, as it is several hundred yards away from the main hub of the complex.
 
La Forêt is the second course at Le Touquet. As the name suggests it is far more tree-lined and offers an excellent test, but is less taxing then it’s stablemate. Many more sociable golfers prefer La Forêt as it is easier for the less accomplished golfer. It is in pristine order and has a quite delightful parkland layout.  For those that want an even more informal game, then Le Manoir Course is a nine hole layout with a par of 35 and fewer complexities to overcome. All the courses allow a variety of skill levels to enjoy the venue and come together for socialising afterwards – allowing for a perfect family break. The practice facilities at Le Touquet are also excellent. There are several putting greens and short game areas, as well as a large golf range with covered bays just a short walk from the main clubhouse.
 
For some crazy reason, many people think that trees are universally good for golf courses and the more crowded with various established trees, the better. This is more valid if the course is named as a forest, but for a links course, such as La Mer, it is intended to have very limited tall vegetation so that the dunes can be seen, the sandy nature of the ground conditions can dominate, and the golfer can see the obstacles ahead and enjoy them. The wind is almost always a factor on a course by the coast, and it is the wind, which has shaped the dunes and the golfer who must then shape his or her shots accordingly. 
 
The course has been opened up considerably, with more work planned over the next few years. This has not made the course any easier, and in reality it is tougher. With the strategic bunkering restored, the threats to the scorecard are no less, despite the improved visibility. With a stiff breeze the course is very tough and more than a match for most. 
 
As befits the casual grace of the resort, buggies are in use throughout the year and golfers can drive unrestricted across most areas of the course. This is a place to be enjoyed by all ages and standards of golfers: such is the warmth of the hospitality at Le Manoir Hôtel, it is not surprising that repeat trade is strong. The UK connection is very strong and for those with not much French, there are plenty of attentive staff to look after their needs. Le Manoir has a traditional country house feel with an excellent bar and dining area sprawling onto sunny patios. Dining is first class and whilst one is surrounded by quality, the formality is kept to a minimum. Le Touquet Golf Resort should be top of the list for anyone wanting a great break and with its neighbouring venue, Golf d’Hardelot, there is plenty of high quality golf for all tastes. 
 
President Macron has his own family holiday home in the town, which is charming and offers an abundance of restaurants, bars and activities for those who wish for more variety beyond the golf. The beach is fantastic and there is a lovely friendly atmosphere about the whole area. Le Touquet is easily accessible by the Eurotunnel, various ferries and still has a fully operational airport. 
 
Le Touquet Golf Resort is a must visit destination and you can get further details from the website: letouquetgolfresort.com/en