Review of Les Bordes Golf ‘Old Course’
Another one of France’s elusive and illustrious ‘best’ golf courses, Les Bordes is consistently ranked as one of continental Europe’s best golf courses, and by god you can see why.
Not only is it aesthetically stunning and a masterpiece of golf course design, but you’d be hard fetched to find a harder more demanding golf course to play. So much so there is a board in the clubhouse which lists every golfer who shot 80 or less. It’s fair to say my name didn’t quite make it….
Laid out in the Sologne forest in the Loire region, it is a couple of hours drive south of Paris and not far off being in the heart of France. There are many authoritative articles and websites which will regale you with the history of the estate, but the ‘in-a-nutshell’ version is that the estate was founded by Baron Marcel Bich who invented the ‘Bic’ pen, in 1987, when he unveiled the course which had been designed by the reputable US golf course architect Robert Von Hagge.
For years the course was completely and utterly private, and was used by Baron Bich to entertain friends and family. It was after his death (in 1994) and the estate being purchased by new owners when the course started to welcome visitors.
However, many years passed with a lack of direction and no real long-term vision, until in March 2018 the estate was taken over once again by new owners with a view to transforming the estate into a world-class resort, with a second golf course and upgrading all the facilities and lodges onsite.
So back to the course. It pains me to say this new direction would like to keep the course strictly private only for the use of its members and their guests. I’m not naive, I can understand the appeal for these members is the exclusivity aspect, but it is a shame nonetheless as this really is one of the finest examples of golf course design I’ve had the pleasure of playing.
No expense has been spared on the maintenance, with pristine tee boxes, carpet fairways and brilliantly smooth greens. On the day I played, green keepers and grounds men outnumbered the guests on the course and this level of detail is replicated across the site.
The Clubhouse is a stunning building both impressive with its sharp edges, member’s pool, exquisite fine dining restaurant and expansive bar area, as well as being understated by not taking the attention away from the main attraction.
The opening hole is a relatively forgiving par-4 with the main feature being the bunker which nearly surrounds the whole green. Intriguingly the green and bunker are actually in the shape of Baron Bich’s head, not that you would notice necessarily from the green itself. The things you can do with disposable millions.
As you walk through to the second tee and onwards, the course really starts to bare its teeth. Throughout the 18 holes you’ll experience a litany of narrow undulating fairways, super-rapid multi-tiered greens, far too many carries over water to even remember, island greens, penal rough, umpteen bunkers…you name it. It is now you understand and respect those individuals whose names adorn the board in the clubhouse.
For the average golfer, the course is just too tough. So you’ll be pleased to know, if you ever do have the opportunity to play here, the clubhouse will welcome you with open arms. It retains all the wonderful charm and features of an old hunting lodge with large wooden beams giving it bags of character.
Would I play here again? Well, getting another invite would be my first challenge, but despite the course utterly and brutally exposing my golf game, without a second’s thought. I always believe getting a good golf score is the icing on the cake, but you go for the whole experience. Playing at Les Bordes was an experience I will never forget and envy anyone who has managed to negotiate themselves a tee time here.
Ps….good luck 😉
- Designer: Robert Von Hagge
- 36 holes
- Par 72
- Length: 6,023 metres (6,409 yards)
- Slope 159
- Golf club website: https://www.lesbordesgolfclub.com/
- Phone number: 02 54 87 72 13
- Address: Saint-Laurent-Nouan, 41220, France