According to the old Big Bopper song, “Chantilly Lace had a pretty face and a wiggle in her walk”. Golf de Chantilly is far more than a pretty face; it’s one of Europe’s most glorious courses.
Chantilly is set amidst the forest of the Ile de France, approximately 30 miles to the north of Paris. The club was originally founded in 1909 and it has played host to numerous French Opens, including the 1913 French Open. 1913 was the first year the Open was held at Chantilly and George Duncan emerged victoriously. Duncan’s score of 304 is the highest in the competition's history, which bears testament to the Chantilly challenge.
The very best have teed it up here at Chantilly, including the great Bobby Jones and Nick Faldo (who won the French Open). The flamboyant English architect, Tom Simpson, laid out the course and he utilised penal bunkering in the extreme. Measuring 6,396 metres from the back tees Le Vineuil is an exacting test. You’ll not only need length from the tee but also accuracy to avoid the forest. You’ll also need to keep out of those vicious bunkers to score well.
The whole Chantilly experience is distinctly traditional and some say that it has a distinct British feel. With 36 holes (Le Vineuil and Les Longères) and a clubhouse that is very reminiscent of that at Sunningdale are we sure were in France? We are certain that the spirit of Tom Simpson and his silver chauffeur driven Rolls Royce lives here.
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Average Reviewers Score:
Chantilly has an excellent reputation and history in France as a challenging championship course. This was our first stop on a wonderful trip to France at the beginning of September. While Chantilly is constantly rated high by everyone we were a little disappointed in their maintenance practices to be quite frank. The course had been set up very tight and while that’s ok, it was one of the most unforgiving courses I’ve played in a long time. The first cut of rough was about waste deep and thick as can be. We were 4 single digit hcp’ers and I don’t even want to remember how many balls we lost. For me personally the most I’ve ever lost on a course and granted I was not having a great day, I was hitting the ball quite well and just slightly bounced a few balls out of the fairway or played them a little too long in the doglegs and didn’t find a single one from the waste deep black hole. I imagine the members to be both very strong and very straight hitting golfers or perhaps very rich and providing excellent business for golf ball manufacturers.
The course is on a rather flat site and there are some excellent contours on the green complexes. We didn’t find the course to really show too much variation until the 16th hole which after an unclear drive opened up to have a wonderful approach over a bit of an unexpected valley to a raised green in the direction of the club house. The 17th was an interesting drop shot 200 or so yard par 3 playing back down into this valley. The 18th was quite the finishing hole as well. It first required a climb up the side of the valley from the 17th green to play your tee shot back over the valley towards the clubhouse only to have to walk all the way back down and back up the other side. The 18th green is a really strong finish and maybe the best on the course with some fantastic shaping and two tiers with a diagonal ridge running through the middle providing one final challenge.
In my opinion the course will be greatly improved for members and guests if they let sheep run wild for a few years and try to thin out that rough. I’ll provide my address when this happens in order for them to return the bucket of balls we lost.
Played this course on a lovely day at the end of March. I more or less had the course to myself. I found the welcome very hospitable, both in the clubhouse and on the course. Although not the hardest course ive played, it made you think about your shots more than any other course, mainly bevause of the very well placed bunkers (91 counted afterwards in the couse guide). Highlight for me- 17th hole, par 3.
The Old Lady is well worth the trip, although she looked tired this week. The bunkers are filled with heavy sand, the fairways showed lots of pitchmarks but the greens were very fast.
The clubhouse can do with an overhaul, so can the staff.
The greenfee of € 100 is steep for the experience.
I recently played 4 rounds golf in France culminating in my winning of the Southern Maze European Tour Cup. What made it extra special was to win it on the magnificent Chantilly course. The greens were heavily contoured and superfast. Favourite holes were the trio from 13 to 15. Condition was second to none. Has more than a touch of Sunningdale and Walton Heath about it
Chantilly has a very famous castle (seen in Bond’s A view to a kill), world renowned pure breed horse races and a very fine golf course. Chantilly, alongside Morfontaine, St Germain and Fontainebleau form what I would call the “Paris’ Majors”. Positioned 6th for France here on the new rankings, Chantilly is a tough course for big boys. Morfontaine is more exclusive, St Germain more pretty, Fontainebleau more fun but Chantilly feels like a bigger place and definitely offers the toughest challenge at 6400 meters from the black back tees (the one I played), so one could wonder if 6th is high enough?
Of the 5 courses ranked above, only one thing is indisputable: conditioning in Les Bordes is unbeatable. My Pro and board members from St Germain (incidentally ranked far too low in my opinion) told me Chantilly is the best course in France: they might be telling the truth… Chantilly has recently or will host big tournaments (Qualifier for the French Open on the Longères course, incidentally won by Spaniard Larrazabal on 10 under after he went to win the French Open at L’Albatros, and The European Young Master) so the course was really at its best.
The big and undulating greens were like velvet and the rough (my-knee-high!) very penal (at best a wedge out, more often a lost ball if you are in it) and underlining beautifully the contours of the fairways . Some tee boxes could have been flatter, but that’s only if I want to be picky. As at least 80% of the members are Parisians, the course is mostly empty during the week which is a real joy for the visitor (visitors allowed from Monday to Friday noon).
Just to correct a point concerning the layout: holes 9 to 11 on the actual Vineuil Course used to belong to the Longères course, which inherited instead of 16 to 18 from the “Old” Vineuil layout with a routing differing a little. Apparently, this was done to create 2 loops of 9 on the Longères course and facilitate return to the club house. Older members that I met were not really fussed about it; I haven’t seen the “Old” 16th to 18th so I won’t judge. Only the Club Championship and some corporate events are played on the original “old” layout. As always with Simpson’s courses, bunkering is formidable.
Back to the course itself now… As a welcome, the first is a 412 meters par 4! Told you it was tough! 2nd and 4th are the only holes where you can relax a little. Stroke index 1 par 4 5th is relatively easy and straightforward; 2 par 3s complete the first 3rd of the round, par 3 6th being 196 meters long! 7th is a tough driving hole as it is difficult to picture the landing area when you play here for the first time. 8th is a beautiful par 5, with loads of bunkers (cross-fairway bunkers are always in play from the back tees!) and measuring “just” 566 meters! 9 to 11 are the newer holes mentioned above, which I didn’t know before starting the round, but could see it while playing as they felt a little immature, with the par 3 11th being almost weak. 13th, my personal favorite, runs opposite 7th and is another tough driving hole for the same reasons. 14th looks a bit bland off the tee, but at 408 meters par 4, is by no means a poor hole; and the green is wonderful, well defended by huge bunkers. Then I am not quite sure about the last 3 holes. Quite unexpected is the presence of a 90 meters or so wide ditch (or should I say ravine?) that you have to cross on 16th and 18th, and that hosts the 17th green, a 199 meters par 3.
From what I have heard and read, my wish is to return to Chantilly to play the “Old” Vineuil layout, as I am pretty sure this layout would deserve the rank 1 in France. Cédric
I have managed to play the "old Vineuil" with the original 16th, 17th and 18th ( now holes on Longeres) whilst staying in the area with a member.
Whilst both the present and the original are both excellent tracks, the original layout feels more balanced,with the finishing 5 holes presenting a very tough challenge.
A very nice course in a special part of the world. A beutiful small clubhouse in the Parisian countryside. We were warmly received by the members (who says the french hate the english?). The course was in great condition. - a wonderful parkland track..& what a great final 4 holes...requires a solid finish to close out a tight match...well worth the trip
A very fine golf course with excellent bunkering and a considerable variety of holes in style and type. Excellent 5th hole with a really tight approach shot to the green. Good par 3s with the memorable drop downhill at 17th. Three new holes added to make a second 18 but the much acclaimed par 5 old 18th is lost to the second course. Great place for a day of golfing and lunching in true French style.