France’s #1 links, La Mer at Le Touquet Golf Resort, has undergone a major restoration project as part of long-term plans to restore the course and resort to their 1930s glory.
The Harry Colt classic, regarded as one of the finest links on the Continent, opened in 1931 when Le Touquet was the most fashionable resort in Europe. But fortification and bombardment during World War II resulted in significant damage to the terrain and the abandonment of four of Colt’s original holes.
While efforts were made to restore these holes in the 1990s, the discovery of aerial photography from the 1930s helped golf architects and leading restorers of classic courses in Europe, Patrice Boissonnas and Frank Pont, bring the entire course back to what now closely resembles Colt’s original design.
“This is the kind of commission a golf architect dreams about,” said Boissonnas. “Finding lost holes from a legendary course designer like Harry Colt – the mastermind behind the New Course at Sunningdale, the West Course at Wentworth and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, to name but a few – is like finding treasure in a treasure hunt. There are so few situations like this, and when they do come along, it is very exciting.
“Along with a great sense of responsibility, this renovation gave me a strong sense of the opportunity to put things right. As part of reviving the missing four holes – the 13th to the 16th – we were able to restore Colt’s original dogleg right par-5 15th, described by his design rival Tom Simpson as one of the best he’d ever seen. Returning the par-3 16th to its original setting has also allowed us to reinstate a spectacular downhill par 3.”
The newly restored links course, set behind the towering dunes and vast beaches at Le Touquet, is receiving high-level plaudits.
Adam Lawrence, editor of Golf Course Architecture magazine, has written he believes La Mer is a future European top 10 course in the making. He said: “Le Touquet’s La Mer is a genuine links course, the best form of golf, and there are precious few links in Continental Europe. Harry Colt’s La Mer layout has great terrain and a bunch of great holes.
“I stand by what I wrote; there is a top European course trying to get out here.”
While the classic La Mer has been restored to its original layout, significant investment in the 45-hole Le Touquet Golf Resort – part of the Open Golf Club group – continues.
A new architect designed clubhouse has opened offering golfers contemporary comforts and hospitality. There is also a new look for Le Manoir, the resort’s hotel. Featuring a new, upgraded, interior designed restaurant, there are now future plans to transform Le Manoir into a boutique style hotel.
Le Touquet Golf Resort is less than an hour’s drive south of Calais on the Cote d’Opale. With easy access to the A16 autoroute, it is easy for golfers to drive direct from the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands, as well as the rest of France.
Le Touquet Golf Resort, visit www.opengolfclub.com/en/Golf-du-Touquet
Patrice Boissonnas www.patriceboissonnas.com
Frank Pont www.infinitevarietygolf.com