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Golf Course Reviews - Europe

Golf de Chantilly

Name: Golf de Chantilly
Location: ineuil-Saint-Firmin, France
Holes: 36 (2 courses)

Golf de Chantilly

It is hard to describe Golf de Chantilly properly without describing its location. You get there by taking the A1 motorway north, out of Paris, and then by driving through the thick forest in Chantilly. It is a centuries old town with the perfect french château in the middle, surrounded by a moat. As you leave the forest, the streets turn from pavement to cobblestone. You then approach a big cobblestone round-about, and the famous race-course is directly in front of you. To your right, down the hill is the imposing château. You have to drive past the château and through the old town gate to get to the golf course. Like at Morfontaine, you have to pass through an electronic gate to get into this private course. The château and the great stables at Chantilly were featured in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill. Chantilly has the world's largest concentrated area for trainers and racehorses.

I played at Chantilly this past October, during the week of the races, and the area has a regal atmosphere. It is a spectacular sight to see the locals on horses galloping through the beautiful surroundings and forest. When we were at Chantilly, there were elegantly dressed people on horseback riding through the narrow allées carved in the forest. One guy was decked out in all his Sunday best, including a curved hunting trumpet strapped around his chest.

Although Chantilly is not ranked on the world's top 100 list I am playing, I jumped at the chance to play this beautiful course when offered. As my readers know from my Morfontaine experience, I am a huge fan of France. Chantilly was also designed by the same architect as Morfontaine, Tom Simpson, whose courses I absolutely love.

Like most of the elite french courses, the history here is intertwined with the aristocracy. Golf de Chantilly was founded by a local prince in 1909. Baron Edouard de Rothschild was the president of the club from 1927-1940.

Like at Morfontaine, Chantilly doesn't open until nine o'clock in the morning. Perhaps it's related to the 35 hour work-week the french have, but it seems a bit odd to give up a couple of great dawn hours when you could be playing. C'est la vie.

The Golf Course
Golf began at Chantilly in 1909, when a nine hole course was laid out. Tom Simpson was brought in to re-design the original course and design a new eighteen hole course in the 1920s. Unlike Morfontaine, Chantilly was heavily damaged during the Second World War, and nine holes were abandoned as a result. In the 1980s Donald Steel designed thirteen new holes and integrated them in with nine holes from the earlier Longeres course. There are 36 holes at Chantilly today: the Veneuil course, which has most of the original Simpson holes, and the Longeres course. They play championships on a composite "Vineuil Old Course" which is made up of fourteen holes from the Vineuil course and four from the Longeres. The course has hosted the French Open championship ten times. Nick Faldo won twice at Chantilly. Other winners include Roberto de Vicenzo, Peter Oosterhuis and Arnaud Massy.

Some courses ease you into the round, and it takes awhile for you to find the courses' charms. Not at Chantilly. It announces right away that it will be a great round of golf. The opening par five hole shows the strategic use of bunkers that are present throughout the course. The three bunkers on the right side make the only safe shot one that lands in the middle of the fairway, right of the clump of trees guarding the left side of the hole.
Golf de Chantilly
Like at Royal Dornoch, Chantilly only allows two balls before eleven in the morning. It really is a great way to play and the pace of play is fantastic. I played some of my best golf at Chantilly, and our two groups were essentially the only four people on the course in the morning. It was easy to get into a rhythm playing this fast with no distractions. We played on a damp, misty and un-seasonably warm autumn day shrouded in heavy fog that lifted about halfway through the round. Although I shot a good score, the other two people on the trip with us, who were playing in front of us, played off-the-charts. How is a 64 from the back tees? Well done, Mark!

Either French people don´t play a lot of golf or Morfontaine and Chantilly are really exclusive clubs, since we barely saw anyone on either course during our mid-week rounds.

We stayed for lunch after our round, and although the clubhouse at Chantilly doesn't have the same charmed feel as Morfontaine, it is a nice quaint clubhouse that overlooks the vast property. In England or in the U.S. you often see people having a couple of beers after a round, in Scotland during the round, and in a classic French move, here, it's a bottle of Bordeaux after the round. While we lunched on French fries with vinegar several members were lounging around having a leisurely lunch over a bottle of red wine.

Chantilly's web-site is helpful, but a bit rough on their translation into English. Among other things stated in the dress code are "no long-line bra nor straps for women."

Perhaps short-line bras or strapless bras are permitted?

Visit the Golf de Chantilly website:Golf de Chantilly


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