One of the very best courses in northern France is the greatly admired links and pine/heathland hybrid at Belle Dune - Rob Smith thoroughly enjoys a return visit

Belle Dune Course Review

Courses Blog

Just an hour from the Channel Tunnel, Belle Dune has matured in just a quarter of a century into a course that is played and enjoyed by golfers of all tastes and ability. You seldom hear a bad word about it, and for me, its greatest asset is that every hole is both different and memorable.

Conditions

A warm and sunny afternoon in late May with a gentle but cooling breeze

FootJoy Outfit

Shirt: Engineered Stripe Lisle, Shorts: Performance, Shoes: AWD XL Casual, Glove: Sci-Flex Tour

A longish walk over a bridge sets the scene for the course which opens with a pair of par 4s played to rising fairways flanked by pine where two fives will satisfy most golfers. These are followed by the first short hole which is very photogenic and inviting.

The 3rd green is beautifully sited in a natural bowl

The 3rd green is beautifully sited in a natural bowl

I particularly like the first par 5 which comes next, and not just because it yielded a birdie! Carved out through the forest, it is beautifully secluded and tranquil.

Running along a lovely, tree-lined valley, the par-5 4th

Running along a lovely, tree-lined valley, the par-5 4th

Five is a tough par 4, before you reach the most inland part of the course at the short sixth. Here, you play from an elevated tee over some wasteland to one of the many large greens that are a feature of the course.

The short 6th, at the northern end of the course

The short 6th, at the northern end of the course

Following this, you head out towards the dunes via a couple of demanding par 4s, the second of which at eight is arguably the toughest hole on the course. It is also very attractive and a par will often feel like a birdie.

The excellent two-shotter at eight is a cracking links hole

The excellent two-shotter at eight is a cracking links hole

The front nine concludes with an exciting, short par 4 where the longer hitters will enjoy giving it a go.

Risk and reward at the driveable 9th

Risk and reward at the driveable 9th

Belle Dune has a remarkable lack of, and indeed lack of need for, bunkers. The tenth is the longest hole on the course, and there is an attractive drive at the next before a relatively long approach up to the green.

Take enough club for the uphill approach at eleven

Take enough club for the uphill approach at eleven

The twelfth is reminiscent of the third, though this time there is a backdrop of dunes rather than pine.

Another perfectly-sited green at the short 12th

Another perfectly-sited green at the short 12th

A surprisingly long pathway leads to the next tee, but it is more than worth it as the dogleg left par 5 is a classic. Bite off the corner, and you can go for the green up on the hill in two. Hit a fade/slice, and it’s a lay-up.

The very distinctive par-5 13th is blessed with a wonderful, natural setting

The very distinctive par-5 13th is blessed with a wonderful, natural setting

The straightforward par 3 at fourteen is less exciting, and it’s easy to get blocked out at fifteen, but the sixteenth offers real hopes of a birdie where distance control is key. A hybrid from the tee leaves just a pitch over a lake that is flanked on the other side by the colourful houses that are a feature of the development.

Sixteen is just a drive and a pitch, but don’t be long off the tee or short on the approach

Sixteen is just a drive and a pitch, but don’t be long off the tee or short on the approach

Seventeen is tough, uphill all the way and requiring a straight drive. It is then back to the clubhouse via a long par 4 lined by trees on the left and water on the right.

The final hole makes for an appropriately strong finish to a very strong course

The final hole makes for an appropriately strong finish to a very strong course

Belle Dune offers a lot more than just holiday golf, and depending on your choice of tee, it will test the best. It also offers great variety from start to finish and is a course to which I will very happily return.