With no fewer than 14 golf courses in Charentes, it’s hard to whittle them down to a top five. That’s why we need an expert to help us decide! Founder of Golf Régions magazine, a Ryder Cup-accredited media outlet, Saintes-based Loïc Auxire has been an avid golfing fan for 17 years, travelling the length and breadth of France, including, naturally, Charente and Charente-Maritime.
Three different courses, three safe bets
Amongst the unmissable courses, the Golf de Royan boasts an 18-hole course amidst the pine trees of the Forêt de la Coubre, making good use of natural sand dunes. From the now iconic 14th hole, you can see the famous phare du Cordouan lighthouse. Meanwhile, at the 18th there’s a restaurant with glorious views. It’s a feast for the eyes, but also the taste-buds, as this is a venue that regularly wins awards for its fayre. In addition to the stunning setting, our expert makes a very pertinent technical point – the sandy terrain is less affected by the vagaries of a sometimes damp climate, meaning that the Golf de Royan is the best option for all year round golf.
Located about 20 km from La Rochelle, the Golf de La Prée is sited next to the town of Marsilly in a unique setting by the Atlantic Ocean opposite the île de Ré and the Baie de l’Aiguillon. There are beautiful views to be had from many holes, with the sight of local fishing huts (carrelets) simply picture postcard-perfect and one that will doubtless be a treasured memory for years to come. However, the course’s seemingly welcoming appearance hides a real challenge waiting to be tamed on a ‘course that’s made harder to play depending on the wind, as there are very few trees to offer any shelter’, as Loïc Auxire warns. You also need to keep an eye out for the numerous tricky water hazards. In short, it’s potentially quite a technically-testing course that will make you work hard for your delicious meal at the clubhouse restaurant afterwards.
We have French golfing champion Jean Garaïalde to thank for the well-designed course at the Golf du Cognac, which he created in 1988. It’s located in Saint-Brice, a stone’s throw from the Charente River, near the town of Cognac. Seamlessly integrated into the local countryside, this course is sited on rolling terrain beside vineyards and interspersed with woodland and water hazards for good measure. This makes it an enjoyably varied course to tackle, both a visual treat and a pleasure to play on. In our expert’s words: ‘An immaculate course with the reputation of being the best-maintained in the whole region.’ After your physical exertions, take it easy: the restaurant is housed in an old farmhouse with a lovely terraced area and pleasant views over the last hole.
Two up-and-coming courses to discover or become reacquainted with
Created in 1953, a 5 minute drive from the town centre, the Golf de Saintes Louis-Rouyer-Guillet is the region’s oldest course. The ruins of a Gallo-Roman aqueduct only add to the appeal of this lush green haven of peace and quiet. The 18-hole course is both technically-challenging and fun to play and offers golfers of all abilities the chance to test themselves in a variety of situations. For Loïc Auxire, it’s personal conviction rather than local pride that leads him to say: ‘Over the last ten years, this course has been doing great work thanks to the commitment of its manager’. As a result, it’s definitely worth spending some time here, especially as the green fees are very competitive. You’ll find the same goes for prices in the restaurant, which is a family-friendly, cosy venue.
Boasting a rhinoceros as its emblem, possibly because of the zoo for which the town of La Palmyre is most famous, the Golf Club de La Palmyre is one of the finest 9 hole courses on the Atlantic Coast. ‘Be careful’, our expert notes, ‘the course is beside a Club Med resort but it’s completely separate from it!’ Created amidst a lovely pine forest and bordered by modern villas, this small course presents quite a tough technical challenge but it’s more than worth it: between lovely sea views and a drink at the club’s lounge bar-restaurant, you’ll be richly-rewarded…
Five hand-picked courses for golfing enthusiasts to get into the swing of things in Charentes!