Golf de l'Ailette course review

We head to France's Champagne region to sample Golf de l'Ailette

Charlie Lemay's picture
Wed, 22 Jun 2016

(Golf de l'Ailette)

Golf de l’Ailette resides roughly 140 kilometres north-east of Paris, in France’s famous Champagne region.

If you’d rather stick to the road rather than fly from the UK, the layout is around 235 kilometres from Calais.

Alongside the course is an accompanying hotel, which offers delightful rooms and superb views over the large lake, and large, comfortable rooms.

The course is part of the Golfy network, which offers players a 25% discount on European green fees. 

(View from hotel balcony)

It was not golf, but rugby that made the most striking impression on us as we enjoyed some of the local region’s produce before play (you can guess what that was).

The driving range, which sits in front of the clubhouse, has two large rugby posts at different distances, giving players a target to laser-in on while warming up. This is something we had not seen before, and it made warming up more interesting, while confirming we can't hit the ball at an an intended target.

The starting holes at Golf de l'Ailette are relatively underwhelming, but as you head towards the lake the course starts to blossom.

The fourth hole is the most attractive in the opening nine, with water running along the right side of the hole.

From the tee, trees may save you from finding the drink if you get a lucky bounce, but as you approach the green there’s nothing to soften the blow should you leak it right.

As you stand over your putt, there are stunning vistas over the lake which paints a serene picture, often replete with boats.

(Fourth green)

The course had clearly endured heavy rainfall in the days before our trip, which had taken its toll on some areas of the fairways on the opening stretch.

However, after the opening five holes, the course starts to make its ascent, which aided drainage, and offered up some decent conditions.

The boomers among you should circle the seventh and eighth holes on the scorecard. Unusually, they are back-to-back par fives, both of which are reachable in two for the longer hitter.

Both have clever bunkering, especially the seventh, so you will need to be accurate off the tee in order to have a jab at eagle.

The ninth is a plunging par-three, with traps on the right and left side of the green punishing the player that under-clubs.

(Golf de l'Ailette)

The back nine is flatter than the front nine, which will be a welcome relief, especially if the sun is beaming down.

There is more water as you make your way home, and overall it boasts more character.

The second shot on the par-four 10th has players approaching over water, while the 11th doglegs around the drink – not a fun hole for faders that are struggling with control.

The 14th hole is the most memorable three-jabber on the course, requiring players to thread two lakes on either side of the green. If, like us, you assume the best bet is to take an extra club in order to avoid the trouble at the front of the green, you may get bitten. At the back – you guessed it – lies water.

The 17th is another enthralling par-three – “never up, never on; nouvel adage” says the yardage book. Water sits between the tee and the green, while two bunkers await behind the putting surface.

The finishing hole is a long par-four which bends to the right. A solid drive is pivotal – down the left side if preferential, but a bunker awaits should you pull your shot too much.

It’s a tough finish – stroke index one, 11 and three coming home – that will settle many close games. Keep your head, and then head to the Champagne bar!

(18th green)

Greens throughout are relatively flat, offering players a chance no matter how far they are from the hole.

The course, while a tad wet at the start, was generally in good condition, and the greens run at a playable speed.

If you can keep your ball out of the water, there is plenty of room of the tee, and very little rough to speak of.

Verdict

Two varying nines, both offering stunning views over the lake. A playable and fun course for all handicaps, as long as you can stay out of the drink. 

Par: 72
Length: 6,687 yards (whites) 6,264 yards (yellows) 5,666 yards (blues) 5,316 yards (reds)

Head to the Golf de l'Ailette website for more information. 

 

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