Despite its name, the scenic course at Omaha Beach is more parkland than links - Rob Smith investigates

Courses Blog

Omaha Beach Course Review

Although the UK and Ireland is blessed with the finest golf in the world, with the Golf Monthly Top 100 and Next 100 highlighting the best of the best, it is still a real treat to play overseas. Continental Europe has many lovely courses, plenty within easy reach such as the lovely Omaha Beach in Normandy. There are two courses, and I played the highly rated par-72 La Mer which overlooks the sea and the nearby fishing village of Port en Bessin.

Conditions

A bright and sunny afternoon in early Summer

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Shirt: Smooth Pique with Double Chest Stripe, Shorts: Performance, Shoes: AWD XL Casual, Glove: Sci-Flex Tour

About an hour west of Le Havre and the pretty tourist town of Honfleur, Omaha Beach opened for play thirty years ago having been designed by the officious-sounding Yves Bureau. The opening hole on La Mer is a par 5 that leads you round the practice ground towards the sea.

Played into the wind, the opening hole is a genuine 3-shotter

Played into the wind, the opening hole is a genuine 3-shotter

A short but very pretty par 3 follows, offering up lovely views over the water and well protected by three bunkers and a run-off area to the left. A par-par start will set you up very nicely indeed.

The par-3 2nd heads due north towards the Channel

The par-3 2nd heads due north towards the Channel

Just as you thought you were coming to the clifftop, you turn left at the third to play a tight and partially blind drive over the brow of a hill to a green set down and to the left. No great distance, accuracy is everything and a fairway wood is probably the best option from the tee.

Don’t go right on the par-4 3rd

Don’t go right on the par-4 3rd

The next is even shorter, but is as pretty as a picture played over a pond and up the hill to a very narrow split-level green.

The 4th is possibly the prettiest hole on the course

The 4th is possibly the prettiest hole on the course

The long fifth hole leads you back in the direction of the cliff-top, and it is at the tough sixth that you get your closest encounter with the ocean at an infinity green that is well protected by sand.

Omaha Beach would perhaps more accurately be described as Omaha Clifftop

Omaha Beach would perhaps more accurately be described as Omaha Clifftop

The next is another testing par 4 before you reach another very attractive and inviting short hole at the eighth where the slope on the right can lead your ball down towards the green.

Hole 8 - don’t go left, and don’t be short!

Hole 8 – don’t go left, and don’t be short!

After returning to the clubhouse, the course changes nature quite dramatically to almost pure parkland, with the par-5 eleventh offering hopes of a birdie.

The 11th is the shortest par 5 on La Mer

The 11th is the shortest par 5 on La Mer

Twelve is another attractive hole with the green protected short and left by a lovely tree and a wide bunker.

The par-4 12th where approaching from the right is probably the best option

The par-4 12th where approaching from the right is probably the best option

A straightaway par 5 and a dogleg left lead you round to the final short hole, the fifteenth, which is beautifully framed by trees and sand.

The long green at 15 can mean anything up to a 3-club difference

The long green at 15 can mean anything up to a 3-club difference

Sixteen is stroke index one and rightly so as it plays very long, seventeen is even longer but doesn’t seem it, and the closing hole leads you back to the bar and a well-earned cold beer. Omaha Beach may only be beach in name, but its two good-looking and very different nines are well worth a game.