Northern France Scores Better Than Par for Golfers
The English gave so many sports to the World that that it’s nice for a change to find one that’s generally agreed to have its origins in Scotland. Although games similar to golf are on historic record as having been played in Holland and other countries, it is beyond dispute that the modern game is derived from the Scottish version.
Devotees of golf call it the greatest of all games. By its very nature it teaches patience, humility, concentration, and even-temper, while good manners and fair play are implicit in the rules. The player himself is the referee, recording his own accidental infractions and always awarding himself the appropriate penalty prescribed by the rules – no protests, arguments or intimidation. Imagine that in a game of football!
Golf came to France with British visitors in the 19th century, and because Le Touquet and Hardelot were initially developed largely by and for the British, golf was an integral part of the development plan. These resorts, along with Wimereux on the coast north of Boulogne gained fine courses as a legacy from the days of the Entente Cordiale.
Every golf course is different, and each has it’s own special character. Around here they are unusually varied. The courses at Abbeville and St Omer are very hilly, so extremely tough physically. Those of the Nord, around the Lille area, like Bondues, Brigode and Thumeries are mostly within gentler, flatter, wooded parkland sometimes with a fine chateau as a centrepiece. Amiens and Dunkerque have relatively new courses. At Dunkerque you play among the remains of a 17th century Vauban fort; at Amiens they’ve planted a wide variety of specimen trees with an eye to colourful foliage and blossoms. Also relatively new is the wonderfully attractive Belle-Dune course at Fort Mahon which starts in an aromatic pine forest, crosses bleak seaside sand dunes then a couple of lakeside meadows before re-entering the woods to finish beside the reeds and rushes of another lake.
One thing that you’ll find constant at all the clubs in the region is the warm welcome extended to visitors and new members. If you do join one of these clubs you’ll find there are lots of opportunities to meet and make friends with French golfers from all walks of life. Your French will improve tremendously as you learn to shout “Belle balle!” instead of “Good shot” and converse fluently with your playing partners after the game in the club restaurant. All the clubs encourage members to play competitively with lots of competitions and events at which even beginners and high handicap players can win valuable prizes. If you’re a better player you may be picked for club teams playing in inter-club leagues, which give you the opportunity to play competitively on the other courses in the region.
French Golf clubs do not generally have complicated and lengthy joining procedures. They usually ask for little more in the way of formalities than your signature on a subscription cheque. You’ll find the atmosphere in their clubhouses pleasantly unstuffy, and rules about behaviour and dress are regarded as simply unnecessary among civilised French people.
You can find lots of information on golf courses in this region on internet sites such as: