June 26, 2021
Our knowledgeable crew of course assessors have played golf almost everywhere. You’ve probably heard of many of these courses, but some are less well known – at least to most golfers. In Best Course Youve Never Heard Of we celebrate these sneaky good designs.
About 150 kilometers south of Paris (that’s about 92 miles if you count the States) is one of the greatest clubs in Europe, Les Bordes, in the Loire Valley. Les Bordes is home to two 18-hole courses, one by Robert von Hagge from Texas, the other by Gil Hanse. Both are great. Unfortunately for most of us, Les Bordes is private. Very private. We’re talking Augusta National and Cypress Point-level exclusivity.
So on my last trip to the region before the lockdown, I looked for a more accessible option, a little closer to Paris and open to the public. I have booked a tee time at Les Aisses Golf.
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Les Aisses first opened in the early 1990s and was originally designed by Olivier Brizon, who laid out 27 holes in three separate loops. In 2010, Martin Hawtree redesigned the property and configured the route into two courses: the 18-hole Les Aisses course and a nine-hole course called La Canne.
When you arrive on this quiet, wooded property, you drive through some of the great holes of the Front Nine and get an impression of their charm, which shows itself in the old trees, well-located lakes and equally punishable heather. The atmosphere is relaxed and the golf is convincing. Like the crisp, light wines for which the Loire Valley is famous, Les Aisses has a distinctive character. The combination of its bold bunkers with the delicate heather is phenomenal. The variety is admirable, with some outstanding holes that will be remembered. Although the property is fairly new, it is easy to be fooled. It has the look and feel of a classic UK heathland.
Les Aisses is the kind of course that you can play every day and never get tired. Well, I’m not suggesting that it compares to Golf de Morfontaine, north of Paris – widely considered the best course in mainland Europe – but it could be Morfontaine’s younger and lesser-known brother who certainly deserves more recognition and attention. Personally, I can’t wait to postpone my return visit.
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