The New course – designed by Gil Hanse – at Les Bordes, near Paris, France, is scheduled to open in May 2021.
It will be the first golf course designed by Hanse to open in continental Europe, and the heathland style is in contrast to Les Bordes’ Old course, which was designed by Robert von Hagge.
“We visited the site and fell in love with the entire property,” said Hanse. “It is very different stylistically to the original 18-hole course, which I think is a positive, as members will have two very different golfing experiences.
“We realised there was the potential to create some bold and dramatic features and strategies or options on the golf course. We could create a course that would be in balance with the low-profile nature of the site, with these more dramatic hole features adding drama to the course.”
Hanse took inspiration from architect Tom Simpson for the project. In an interview with Richard Wax for GCA’s April 2020 issue, Hanse said: “We have read his book of course, and admired his artwork for years, but had not yet had the opportunity to work on a canvas that might be suitable for trying to evoke his style. When Les Bordes came about, we had the great fortune to go to Morfontaine, Chantilly and Fontainebleau. It just resonated with us that there was the possibility on this particular site.”
The par-72 layout features large bunkers, subtle elevation changes, and measures 7,211 yards from the back tees, albeit likely to play shorter due to firm and fast conditions.
Jack Laws, director of golf at Les Bordes, said: “Gil lived with us on the estate for over three months whilst the construction was happening and was incredibly hands-on. He would wake up at 6am, have a croissant and coffee in the clubhouse then start his day on the bulldozer at seven and would be shaping all day until darkness fell. He did this six days a week and his team were just as thorough.
“The course has heathland features, but it’s built on sand and has large waste areas like a Pine Valley, and in this respect, it is a unique style for Europe. It is an outstanding golf course with truly exceptional architecture; I was based at Sunningdale for five years before moving to France and, for me, it rivals Harry Colt’s work there, which is incredibly exciting.”
Hanse’s team also worked alongside the club’s greenkeepers on changes to the Old course, including: a new maintenance and watering program; reseeding tees and fairways with fescue grass; the removal of overly penal rough; the widening of playing corridors; and tree removal on the second, third, eleventh and seventeenth holes. Also, the sixteenth tee has been raised 1.5 metres so players can see the green from the tee and to reduce the severity of the tee shot.
Lee Strutt, golf superintendent and estate manager at Les Bordes, said: “We are a fully private members’ club with the main focus on passionate golfing people. We have members from all of the world’s biggest clubs and aim to keep our standards as such.
“The courses are very different. The Old is a contemporary design which is much more target-golf orientated and the ball is played through the air, whereas the New is a course where the ground will be used and there is a premium on being able to shape and control your ball along the playing surfaces.”
Hanse has also designed a 10-hole short course at Les Bordes – the Wild Piglet – which opened in 2020.
“Gil Hanse is credited to have built the best short course in the world at Pinehurst, so to say that the Wild Piglet is in the same league is very exciting for us,” said Strutt. “It will be an amazing asset to the golf offering, with holes ranging from 70 to 120 yards, and will be a lot of fun to play.
“This will give the membership a very different mix of golf which is unique for one property and will help us achieve our goal of offering one of the world’s best 46-hole golfing experiences.”