Golf de Morfontaine, France

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Golf de Morfontaine, France0

Golf de Morfontaine dates back to October 1913 when the Duke of Guiche obtained permission from his father to transform an old polo pitch in the park of Vallière into a 9-hole golf course for the pleasure of the Duke and his friends. He liked Tom Simpson’s taste for natural landscapes and his sense of aesthetics so he was later commissioned to re-design the original 9-hole Vallière course.

At the opening ceremony, professional James Braid teed it up with French champions Jean Gassiat and Arnaud Massy. After the First World War, the Duke decided to open the course more widely, and, in 1927, created the Golf Club Association that is still in existence today. Tom Simpson designed a new 18-hole Morfontaine (now called Le Grand Parcours) and Mrs Lacoste struck the first tee shot. Simpson’s design was immediately applauded and his work at Morfontaine is still highly regarded and bracketed alongside his other great achievements at Royal Lytham & St Annes.  In 1930, 350 people from different nationalities were registered club members. The Duke died in 1962 and in 1987 Morfontaine finally became the property of its members, remaining perhaps the most exclusive club in France with its doors remaining firmly closed to visitors, except if you’re lucky enough to receive an invite from one of its 450 current members.

Kyle Phillips has recently made some minor changes to holes 10 and 12. The par four 10th has now been lengthened by 50 metres and the par five 12th has also gained a similar length. Further changes to holes 6 and 14 are currently underway, which will add a little more length, in an attempt to keep Morfontaine as challenging as it was in Tom Simpson’s day. The original 9-hole course, Le Valière, is still a gem in its own right and despite being short it is nonetheless a real challenge. The 4th is a cracking short downhill par three and the 5th a great two-shotter. These two holes are as good as any on the “main” course.

Few will ever get the chance to play this heathland paradise. But, if you happen to befriend a member, make sure you treat him well and then get set for 27 holes of sheer pleasure.