Golf Biarritz Le Phare
Inaugurated in 1887, Biarritz Le Phare golf club is one of France’s oldest courses. It is mere minutes from the town centre of the glamorous coastal town Biarritz and has a fascinating history involving a number of golf’s most renowned course architects.
The original layout, which was commissioned by a group of British residents of the town, differed quite substantially to the parkland design we can enjoy today. This first design, pioneered by golf course architects Tom & Willie Dunn, was a semi-links course which ran down to the Atlantic coastline and had one of golf’s greatest ‘lost’ holes, a par-3 where players had to hit across from one cliff to another over the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
With dwindling golfer numbers circa 1920, the committee brought in the esteemed golf course architect, Harry Colt, who recommended a number of amends, mostly to increase the length of various holes. Sadly, following the Second World War, a number of the most dramatic holes were so damaged, the land was eventually sold and new holes were created more inland.
All-in-all, the course has had its fair share of alterations, influences (both internally and externally) as well as famous players (Arnaud Massy, Eugène Laffite, King Edouard VII amongst others). Now you are more likely to encounter Biarritz residents or travelling British golfers, and the atmosphere is generally quite relaxed despite being a semi-private club.
The much-changed course is not overly difficult and in today’s standards, is relatively short at 5,908 yards. The 1st hole leads you down a narrow fairway with mature trees flanking your drive. The 2nd is a long par-3 but without too many obstacles. Indeed, the difficulty here is more technical and involves a number of narrow fairways, approximately 70 bunkers littered around the course and coastal winds.
However, easy walking and close to town mean this is an extremely popular choice of course and the traditional clubhouse, despite being slightly old-fashioned, serves fantastic French food at a good price.
If you are in Biarritz on a golf holiday, this is a must-play, not just for its fascinating history and tradition, but also because of the convenience and technical challenge on offer. You can then travel further north and play the more brutal Golf de Seignosse and Moliets Golf Club.
- Designer: Tom & Willie Dunn, (later on) Harry Colt
- 18 holes
- Par 69
- Length: 5,402 metres (5,908 yards)
- Slope 121
- Golf club website: https://golfbiarritz.com/en/welcome/
- Phone number: 05 59 03 71 80
- Address: 2, avenue Edith Cavell – 64200 Biarritz