Review of Golf de Fontainebleau
Consistently rated as one of the best courses in Europe, let alone France, Golf de Fontainebleau is a top-class woodland course in one of the most beautifully scenic locations, an hour south of Paris.
The town and woods of Fontainebleau have a rich history having intertwined over the years with that of French royalty. Fontainebleau was one of their main retreats to escape the cauldron that was Paris in those days. Indeed, for many a year, Napoleon himself called the Chateau at Fontainebleau his abode.
However, it is the woods that interest us, as it is here that the stunning Golf de Fontainebleau is laid out. Renowned across France due to its abundance of natural rock formations, it is a great place for amateur rock-climbers and these rock formations feature heavily throughout the course giving it a unique character.
A course reminiscent of a classic British heathland, the relatively straight fairways are lined with pines, beech trees, oaks and birch trees. Dense layers of gorse and fern provide another challenge to add to the 103 bunkers littering the fairways.
Holes of note include the relatively easy third more impressive than dangerous. A par 5 of 527 yards, which features an elevated tee box offering a stunning panorama of the surrounding woodland. The fifth hole is a cheeky par 4 needing a simple lay up, before circumventing the litany of bunkers positioned in front of the multi-tiered green.
The tenth at the beginning of the back-nine, starts with a tough and long par 3. 191 yards off the whites to a green protected by gorse and bunkers either side. The twelfth hole is beautiful and for me is the epitome of Fontainebleau Golf Club in just one hole. A wave of purple flowering gorse sits just off the tee, followed by a line of pot bunkers to be avoided. The next challenge is a line of rock formations which litter the fairway before reaching the elevated green. Simply sublime.
The course is well established having been first created in 1909 by a French architect, although Tom Simpson redesigned the layout in 1920 giving it the more British feel and the bunkers evocative of Simpson’s work elsewhere in France. The sandy ground upon which the course is built, makes it perfect for year-round play and the Clubhouse is delightful. Of Norman design, it is comfortable and welcoming despite being a rather private club.
If you happen to find yourself south of Paris, Golf de Fontainebleau is a must play, and for anyone who is passionate about Golf in France, pay this club a visit. Visitors are welcome Monday to Friday.
- Designer: Tom Simpson
- 18 holes
- Par 72
- Length: 6,016 metres (6,579 yards)
- Slope 136
- Golf club website: http://www.golfdefontainebleau.com/
- Phone number: 01 64 22 22 95
- Address: Route d’Orléans, 77300, Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne