Whether you are a regular player of the game of golf or just getting started in the sport, you may have noticed how crowded the courses are becoming in Spain and Portugal's Algarve. Well fear not, there is an alternative golfing holiday destination that is closer, more convenient, quieter and extremely high quality – the South West of France.
France, the land of fine wines, haute cuisine and high fashion has over the last twenty years, taken the game of golf to its heart. Having once considered the sport elitist, its popularity has grown to such an amount, that the enthusiastic golfer now has in excess of 650 golf courses to choose from. These feature some of the most beautiful countryside to be found anywhere in Europe.
France has more choice of fairway and green to offer than is available, through the rest of the European continent too and the quality does not diminish with quantity: 25 of France's courses are rated amongst the top 100 in Europe.
Over four times larger than England, France offers a varied climate from North to South and East to West. The climate turns from typically southern English, in Calais North France, to distinctly Mediterranean in Languedoc Roussillon, in the south. In the southwest of France, around the area of Poitou-Charentes, the climate cools, just enough to make an 18 hole stroll with a bag of sticks, one of the most memorable and pleasurable of all holiday pastimes.
Golf in Poitou-Charentes, France, is also comparatively inexpensive with 18 hole green fees costing between thirty and forty Euros, depending upon the time of year. You can relax, safe in the knowledge that at least until the golfing aficionados arrive, from the other overbooked destinations in Europe, you will be able to enjoy a reliably peaceful and uninterrupted game.
So, what of the facilities? Having to compete with its near neighbors of Spain and Portugal, the French authorities have been at pains to ensure the creation of golf courses and facilities that are second to none. Within striking distance of Poitou-Charentes itself, you will find some 22 courses, most notable among which are the courses at Chateau des Forges, Haut-Poitou and Golf du Cognac.
27 holes wait to greet you at Chateau des Forges. Made up of an 18 or 3 separate 9-hole courses, this challenging, yet undeniably relaxing course covers some 110 hectares of beautiful, unspoiled French countryside. If having played the 18, you're still up for more, why not take on another 9 before retiring to the clubhouse for a well-earned half lit or two. A 10 round pass is available mid to high season with special rates for couples.
Haut-Poitou challenges with a long par 73. Here a tough, wooded back nine follows an outbound battle with numerous water hazards. At Golf du Cognac, nestled on the banks of the Charente, between Cognac and Jarnac, the course gently-slopes between vineyard and woodland, with three water hazards. Even experienced golfers may need a Cognac or two after the 12th, 15th and 17th holes here but they can rest assured, there'll be one waiting for them at the 19th.