Despite its name, the scenic course at Omaha Beach is more parkland than links - Rob Smith investigates
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.
A bright and sunny afternoon in early Summer
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Twelve is another attractive hole with the green protected short and left by a lovely tree and a wide bunker.
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.
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.