Review of Golf de Joyenval ‘Retz’
The second course at the exclusive and strictly private Golf de Joyenval is the Retz, a superb championship golf course which like its sister the Marly course, is unheard of in many golfing circles and is another reason the Ile-de-France region is so highly regarded by those in the know in France.
Named after the ‘Desert du Retz’, an 18th century Anglo-Chinese landscape garden located close by, like the Marly, the Retz was also designed by the iconic Robert Trent Jones Sr of Sotogrande and Valderrama fame and it’s hard to choose which of these championship courses is to be considered the dominant layout here.
Although the Marly course has hosted a couple of major tournaments, the Retz is by no means inferior in design or aesthetic. If anything, I feel one of the most dramatic holes is found on the back nine of the Retz, the short par-3 11th, where you find yourself teeing off from an elevated vantage point over water to a narrow undulating green, flanked by bunkers.
Indeed, the 11th isn’t the only par-3 over water with the 15th again providing golfers with the challenge of club selection. Although neither is overly long, selecting the right club is absolutely key or you’ll be swimming.
Compared to the Marly course, you might argue the Retz is less audacious in design, but rest assured this is still a technical course where you need to hit big and certainly be accurate around the greens.
From the tee you can be liberal with the driver with wide open fairways, less rough and fewer fairway bunkers than its sister course. It is when you get close to the green you need to start being accurate. Imposing bunkers protect wide undulating greens, which are more often than not slightly elevated, encouraging safe play for fear of being in 3-putt land.
The stand-out holes are the 4th, a short dog-leg right par-5 through the first glades of woodland; the technical 5th hole, again a dog-leg left to right, demanding precision off the elevated tee with an up-hill approach. Others include the aforementioned par-3 over water 11th hole and the 17th, a gentle up-hill par 4 but with a superb elevated green surrounded by bunkers.
All-in-all, this is a superb technical challenge and a thoroughly enjoyable round of golf. You don’t get overly penalised for being aggressive and it goes without saying this course is in similarly exquisite condition to the Marly. Tee boxes, fairways and greens are all cut to perfection and this parallel is reflected in the service and attention to detail found within the modern clubhouse.
The Golf de Joyenval is sadly very private, but a visit here should be top of any golfer’s wish-list, finding a way in is just the first of many challenges.
- Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr
- 36 holes
- Par 72
- Length: 6,211 metres (6,792 yards)
- Slope 141
- Golf club website: http://golfdejoyenval.com/
- Phone number: 01 39 22 27 50
- Address: Chemin de la Tuilerie, 78240 Chambourcy