Andrew Bertram

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Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« on: August 31, 2009, 07:45:33 pm »
The day I spent at Morfontaine was one of my most treasured days on the links. From the moment we ventured through the front and down the 1 mile drive it was like a couple of kids in a lolly shop.

I had arranged to play at 9am, we could not play earlier as the course only opened the gates at 9am!  On arrival in the car park there were only 4 cars, all belonging to staff.
We were met at the Club House by the Secretary Manager who welcomed us and shared coffee and breakfast and primed us with a run down of the Club’s history and the works they had planned and how little the course had changed over the preceding 70 years.
The main work being undertaken is to correct the “runways” in his words. That is what he called the tees that have become long strips. Kyle Phillips is re working the tees into boxed smaller tees similar to what was originally there.

The course was extremely pleasurable to play and flowed beautifully from hole to hole. The green contours moved from subtle on some holes to extreme on others. This is something that has been lost on a lot of sand belt courses with the need for “fast” greens and it is such a shame. IN particular the Valiere 9 hole course has an exceptional set of greens with extreme slopes.

The use of trees adds greatly to the course. Tress do not interfere with pay in areas they should not but they do frame holes beautifully, in particular with singular standout trees.

On the day in question we had the course to ourselves, when we finished 18 a couple arrived for lunch and followed that with golf. We then enjoyed lunch on the terrace and another 9 on the Valiere course. When we got to the 1st green and saw what was ahead we just laughed,  the 3rd green was laid out in all it’s glory. Going from the 2nd green up the hill to the 3rd tee and to see what was ahead was a wonderful sight.
We spent about 20 minutes putting on the 3rd green after finishing the hole it was that good.

After leaving the 3rd we walked over a small crest to the 4th tee and started laughing at how good the setting was for the 4th.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed the course.



Golf de Morfontaine Club House


1st Tee Shot


1st approach


2nd from behind green


2nd green


2nd Green


3rd tee shot


3rd approach


4th hole


4th hole bunker detail


4th green from short right


5th tee shot


5th approach


6th tee shot


6th approach


7th tee shot


7th approach


8th approach




9th approach


9th tee shot


10th green


10th green from behind green, 11th hole on right


11th hole


11th hole


12th tee shot


12th approach


12th green


13th hole


13th green


14th approach


15th approach’


16th approach


17th hole


17th hole


18th tee shot


18th green


Valliere 1st tee shot


Valliere 1st green


Valliere 2nd hole


Valliere 2nd green


Valliere 3rd hole


Valliere 3rd hole


Valliere 3rd approach


Valliere 3rd Green



Valliere 4th hole


Valliere 4th green


Valliere 4th green


Valliere 5th approach


Valliere 5th green


Valliere 5th green


Valliere 6th tee shot

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Valliere 6th approach


Valliere 8th approach


Valliere 8th green


Valliere 9th hole


Club house from Valliere 9th tee


I trust you have enjoyed these photographs.


    
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 05:38:17 pm by Andrew Bertram »
2012 Machrahanish, Loch Lomond, Silloth Solway, Woodhall Spa, Royal Porthcawl, Oitavis Dunes, Chantilly, St Germain, Morfontaine, Fontainebleau, Golf National, Le Touquet, Hardelot, Princes, RSG, Crystal Downs, Shorecres, Skokie, Cog Hill, Camargo, Inverness, Oakland Hills, Scioto, Muirfirld Village

John Mayhugh

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2009, 08:26:42 pm »
Thanks for sharing the photos. The greensite of the 17th is really cool.  How much did the trees affect play?

I don't wish to seem ungrateful, but is there any chance of posting larger photos?

Adam_Messix

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2009, 08:32:37 pm »
Andrew--

Those are great pictures and give a great sense of Morfontaine the course.  It's amazing how I love the greens on both the big course and Valliere even though they are so different.  For the most part, the greens on the big course are really subtle with difficult to read internal contouring with a few nice false edges on 7, 9, and 10.  The original greens on the Valliere are quite interesting and the closest thing to Engineers that I've come across.  I like the newer greens on Valliere too (6, 7, and 9) which are similar to the greens on the big course. 

John--

The trees on #17 are not an issue.

Philip Gawith

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2009, 09:10:20 pm »
Adam, I agree with John that you should try to post your pictures on a larger scale - you are underselling your efforts, especially when you have the double blessing of playing a very private course in fabulous weather.

It is indeed a magical place to visit and the Valliere course has some amazing greens/holes - the main course is mainstream by comparison. It is interesting that the stones in fairway that you find on this course - around hole 5 or 6 as i recall - are also found at Fontainebleau. I don't remember seeing them on a UK course.

The club has an ambience quite unlike any other golf course i have played - more akin to some sort of private upper class hunting lodge!

John Mayhugh

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2009, 09:12:04 pm »
I was typing my question quickly and didn't do a good job.  Was wondering about the impact of the trees throughout the course, not specifically on 17.

17's comment was intended just to be the siting of the green. 

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2009, 03:19:15 am »
Andrew I echo all the above comment re size.  I'm not sure I've ever seen the greens on Valliere even tough I have heard of them.  There's a lovely write up in the World Atlas of Golf saying those 9 holes were amongst Simpson's earliest work, 1910 and then he returned for the main course in 1927.

This winter I think I will write down my must play list, this will be near the top. Thanks for taking the time to share.
The Interview
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Mark Bourgeois

Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2009, 04:34:32 am »
Thank you, Andrew, I very much enjoyed these little photos.

With the exception of the 13th, what an apparently amazing collection of holes -- and the failings of 13th like the 17th look as though they can be erased in a matter of minutes by a man deft with a blade.  Or saw.

Andrew Bertram

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2009, 06:16:57 am »
thanks for your comments

the trees do not really impede on the line of play or do they change the shot you would want to play. It apears the management and clearing of the trees has been well done over many years.
Even the 13th - the tree there is not really in play for better players, it would however make the hole very challenging for average players.

On 17 i had not given the trees any thought at all and they really were not in play. it must be camera angle.

sorry about the size, i will go back in tonight when i have time and increase the sizing up to large from medium. I was concerned about putting too big a photo on the site.

Andrew
2012 Machrahanish, Loch Lomond, Silloth Solway, Woodhall Spa, Royal Porthcawl, Oitavis Dunes, Chantilly, St Germain, Morfontaine, Fontainebleau, Golf National, Le Touquet, Hardelot, Princes, RSG, Crystal Downs, Shorecres, Skokie, Cog Hill, Camargo, Inverness, Oakland Hills, Scioto, Muirfirld Village

Alfonso Erhardt

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2009, 12:50:49 pm »
How's Paris to play in November?? Is it too late to go? Are the courses too wet?

Steve Okula

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2009, 04:54:02 pm »
Alfonso,

Yes, you can play golf in Paris in November. Expect rainy weather with temperatures in the 5-10°C range, that is 40°'s F. If the weather is clear, expect frost delays. If you're booking tee times, between 11 AM to 1PM is about right. It'll be dark after 5PM.
The small wheel turns by the fire and rod,
the big wheel turns by the grace of God.

Alfonso Erhardt

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2009, 05:03:57 pm »
Thanks Steve,

Worst than I thought. In Madrid its like that in December. I guess I'll have to postpone until spring 2010.....

Tom MacWood

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2009, 06:33:26 pm »
Valliere has to have some of the wildest greens in golf. I've seen 1907 and 1910 given as the date for that course but it was actually built in 1912 and opened in 1913. Valliere was the estate of the Duc de Gramont, and he and his gardener built a six-hole course several years prior to Simpson. He met Simpson (I believe at Dieppe where Fowler & Simpson were working) and he asked him to build him a new course. From what I understand it was his private golf course.

John Sabino

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2009, 07:08:04 pm »
Andrews - congratulations on playing Morfontaine, one of the best. Fabulous pictures. I'm curious how hard it was for you to arrange play as it is difficult to get on.  I agree with you, the 4th on the Valliere is one the greatest holes in golf. John

Andrew Bertram

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2009, 05:40:01 pm »
Gents

I have just uploaded the larger photos

In future i will post photos this size

Andrew
2012 Machrahanish, Loch Lomond, Silloth Solway, Woodhall Spa, Royal Porthcawl, Oitavis Dunes, Chantilly, St Germain, Morfontaine, Fontainebleau, Golf National, Le Touquet, Hardelot, Princes, RSG, Crystal Downs, Shorecres, Skokie, Cog Hill, Camargo, Inverness, Oakland Hills, Scioto, Muirfirld Village

Andrew Mitchell

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2009, 06:17:30 pm »
Andrew

Thanks for the larger photographs, Morfontaine looks even more impressive now!
2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

Adam Russell

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2009, 08:13:23 pm »
Andrew -

Thanks for all your work. The new pictures look much better, and this is a course I have always heard about but never seen any good shots of the playing corridors. It looks like the trees don't pose any sort of problem play-wise, but what's eating the bark? I'm from a place choked with them (Georgia). They all look to be stripped about fifteen feet up the trunks. If they were in decline from say, a pine beetle, it looks like a massive change coming.
“The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life's most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it.” -Lewis Grizzard

Tim Pitner

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2009, 09:30:30 pm »
Thanks for posting, Andrew.

To those in the know, how would you compare the land on which the classic, Paris-area courses were built to that of the London-area courses?  Is it actually heathland?  Is there a sandy base?

Kalen Braley

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2009, 02:08:03 am »
Its hard to put my finger on exactly just why...

But this may very well be the most naturalisitic course I've ever seen, based purely on pics of course.  Everything seems to blend so effortlessly into its surrounds and the course looks like it was just mowed and pins placed.

Simply fantastic...

P.S.  And I'm guessing the pics don't do it justice and it looks even better in person!!

George Freeman

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2009, 07:02:36 am »
Morfontaine looks like a BLAST to play, especially the Valliere course!  Those greens looks exquisite...

Thanks for the pics Andrew!
Mayhugh is my hero!!

"I love creating great golf courses.  I love shaping earth...it's a canvas." - Donald J. Trump

Bill Schulz

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2009, 12:53:31 pm »
Morfontaine is indeed a unique golfing experience.

First of all, even with gps, it is highly unlike that someone with slightly above average intelligence could find the front gate to the club.  I was fortunately picked up at my hotel (King George V is my favorite hotel in the world followed by Pietro de Poisitano) by the member and amazed by the many hidden turns and unmarked roads that lead to the gate.

There is no bag drop, there are no golf attendants that grab your clubs and in fact, there is no pro shop!

You check in with the office manager (I think the green fees were around 40 euros) and are given a scorecard but no pencil.

Unlike apparently most guests, after a lengthy conversation by the member with the club staff, I was allowed to purchase a shirt (something I do very rarely these days).  Of course, I graciously appected this kind offer and they opened a closet which had around a dozen shirts.  I selected a lime green Morfontaine shirt which has a pocket in the front.

Morfontaine is very private, I did not see another golfer all day.  They are not keen on Americans although Eisenhower is still highly regarded at the club.  I did not see any caddies or evil golf carts so we carried our clubs for the 27 holes, very short walks between holes with an excellent routing that wanders capriciously in all directions like a puppy chasing a squirrel.

The above comment that Morfontaine is very natural and comfortable in her appearance is spot on.  Maintenance is diligent but definitely not manicured.

The collection of par 3s are as strong as any in Europe although the par 5s are not the strong point of the course.  In fact, the recent work around the par 5 12th green by Kyle Phillips looks out of place with its uncharacterically large putting surface and chipping areas.

Please note the excellent photograph of the par 3 17th hole.  I played it with the hillside behind the green blooming and it was a surreal site with its dramatic and unusual beauty.  The 18th tee is behind the green up on the hill with a real cool and narrow tee box.

Morfontaine is around 6700 yards from the back tees with the difficultly behind in the long par 4s and strategically placed bunkers.

There is a dog water dish near the 10th  tee.

Lunch on the patio is served by an Angelina Jolie look a like (ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit here) in a little black and white outfit (tres bien!) and the shrimp salad is delicious.

The Valliere course is the best nine hole course I have ever played by a wide margin (little Marion near Kittansett is truly unique with its rock walls fronting several greens and Augusta National's is fun but very artificial).  Please note the photos of the par 3 4th hole which is arguably the best inland par 3 in the free world, it is that good.  It is a dowhill par 3 with the tee box only a few paces behind the excellent par 4 3rd green and the bunkering melds into the enivornment.  The shot values and fun factor are off the charts as depending where the pin is you can putt there almost 5 different ways (like the 7th green at Friar's Head).  We putted for probably 20 minutes on the green after we played the hole.

The Valliere course, unlike the main course, is also notable as it is adjacent to a gun shooting  range and the shots reverberate through the air...truly unique.

For an amazing and detailed writeup of Morfontaine, I would suggest reading John Sabino's witty as hell blog regarding his world travels in the quest to play the Golf Magazine Top 100.


Scott Warren

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Re: Golf de Morfontaine - Photo Tour with larger photos
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2013, 04:51:16 pm »
I had the pleasure of visiting Morfontaine a few weeks back while back revisiting my favourite country in the world, and it was as wonderful an experience as you might expect.

I arrived about 9.30am to the same empty car park that others have experienced, played the main course, took refuge from the sun (36C and fairly humid that day) for lunch on the patio - during which a delightful older French lady endured my poor French for longer than she needed to to discuss how underrated French golf is and her grievances with President Hollande - before I excused myself to tackle the Vallaire course.

Playing alone, I had soon ripped through 27 holes and lunch in quick time, so I decided to play the main course again, despite being out on my feet from the heat.

It was great to play those remarkable holes again with an idea of where the holes went and where everything was. I ditched the camera and range-finder for that second round and just played by feel with the occasional glance at a sprinkler head.

Hard to imagine a more perfect afternoon than playing that course in ideal condition - burnt and brown, firm and fast, the greens not too quick - without another noise than club on ball and ball on ground.

The Vallaire was one of the wildest courses I've played, and so much fun at every turn. The land and greens reminded me a good deal of what Ogilvy Clayton Design is doing at my home club, Bonnie Doon, in Sydney. As far as inspiration, it's hard to do better. Crucially, the greens don't just have a mass of bold shapes, they present a massive variety of pin positions that change greatly the way each hole plays. Look at that back shelves on the 3rd and 5th, RHS pin on the 8th and steep tier at the 2nd from Andrew Bertram's pics.

The main course takes everything I love and respect about Tom Simpson's design work from New Zealand GC, County Louth and Hardelot (Les Pins) and takes it to another level. The green sites are perfectly selected, draped over the high ground more often than not, allowing the land to create the interest without too much intervention.

If I had to sum the course up in a word, it would be "restraint".

Simpson didn't build bunkers where they weren't needed - either on the drive or at the green. With such perfect land to work with at Morfontaine, there are countless examples where the land did the job without assistance and the course is all the better for it: the 3rd green, the 7th and 8th fairways, the lay-up at the 12th, the drive at 16.

Likewise, the greens are restrained. Where the Vallaire course is over dramatic land and suits the dramatic greens, the main course is for the most par on less heaving terrain. The greens still have enough to interest you and reward a perfectly-placed approach, but their virtues are less evident from a distance than on the Vallaire.

A perfect example of both the above factors is the first hole. The drive bends slowly right, off-camber around a heathery corner, with a drive on the inside rewarded by a clear run too the green. The land short of the green cants significantly toward the LHS greenfront bunker, making any shot from the outside of the dogleg progressively challenging - but also providing land that can be used by a skilled ballstriker to run a ball onto the front-to-back green.

I envy those who get a lifetime to discover Morfontaine's secrets and delights, but feel fortunate to have had a day to play 45 holes and see just a little of what makes these two courses so highly regarded.

Finally, Kyle Phillips' 12th green is a masterpiece. The only way you'd know it was new and not the work of Simpson is that the 12th to 13th transition is much longer than the other 16 green-to-tee walks - a sign that 12 was lengthened. But what a green - that RHS bunker is perfectly excavated into the hillside and looks timeless.

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