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  • Neil White


““It’s a par six!”

Because of a last-minute change to our agenda, I had not done my usual homework on Seignosse, a gorgeous club and course 35 minutes north of Biarritz.

Thus, with our legs aching from a rather long walk, I was surprised to see the 666 metres stretching ahead.

By its end, I was within a hair’s breadth of achieving one of the pars of my life.

Seignosse is only four kilometres from the sea but it could be 40. It is a beautiful woodland course with significant elevation and plenty of water.

It was designed by Robert Von Hagge, who made sense of that stunning piece of land at Anfi Tauro in Gran Canaria.

It could not be as dramatic because it is not on the side of a mountain with ocean views. However, there are many cracking holes and, as said, one of the most stunning finales in golf.

Booking at Seignosse is straightforward, and we had a special rate of just 50 Euros because it was the first day after maintenance week.

We were a little concerned when we saw the sand on the greens but they still ran reasonably smoothly and the rest of the course was in great shape.

This was our second game in France in a week. The immediate common features with nearby Chiberta were that push trolleys were free and an impressive electronic scoreboard showed players’ tee times.

Mrs W and I played as a two and were behind a four but were happy to take our time and take in the sights.

We also needed regular breathers because we had opted to walk, and there were some steep, long treks between some of the holes.

The Seignosse clubhouse looks down onto the practice putting green, 18th hole and the first – a gorgeous downhill par-four between tall trees to a narrow tiered green. Those who keep the ball straight can admire the view and have a comfortable start.

It is followed by a short par-four second and the first introduction of water into the round.

We placed our tee shots accurately, leaving approaches of around 120 yards to a flag just a few yards beyond an attractive pond.

A young family who had walked the path across the fairway stopped to watch our approaches and witnessed Mrs W’s scuttling effort dart towards the drink.

The mother shrugged in response as if she knew how water obstacles get into my wife’s head.

Fortunately, my better half had better luck immediately afterwards because the drive for the par-four third is over the same pond and she successfully negotiated it.

Even without the hazard, this is a challenging curving hole with big bunkers on the right and left of the fairway and copses on either side to worry the more erratic.

Those who avoid initial trouble will find more sand defending a two-tier green. I was delighted with par.

The dogleg par-five fourth is less than 500 yards but is one of my favourites because it is so deceiving.

It demands a precise drive to avoid sand and trees before it curves sharply to the right to a heavily sloping green on top of a steep mound. It is much tougher than the yardage map suggests.

The par-three fifth has an elevated tee and looks steeply down to a target guarded by a massive bunker.

The ninth is another of Segnosse’s memorable short par-fours with its undulating fairway, bending around out of bounds to the right and sand and woods to the left.

It is another plateaued green with sand in front and to the right. Careful course management could yield a score, but overexuberance could result in comeuppance.

There is a long walk to the 10th, past a hotel and over a road before a similar short hole that rewards placement off the tee and a controlled chip to a perched flag.

The 11th is a superb golf hole. Its high tee looks down onto a par five that stretches through a forest with a menacing pond down the right.

Humps, bumps, as well as water can hinder progress before a narrow entrance to the green through two big bunkers.

Calamity Corner was the pretty 14th for Mrs W and me, as we were psyched out by the lake protecting the pin.

This should have been a comfortable drive and chip, but our minds were frazzled by the hazard. Despite efficient lay-ups, leaving easy pitches, we both splashed our approaches.

The run-in at Seignosse is one of the most memorable of anywhere on our travels and not just because of the finale.

The 16th is the longest par-three on the course, and it is framed by some of the gorgeous properties that border Seignosse.

There is a big dip on the left, a bunker on the right, and tall trees all around the hole. I was very pleased with my par here.

It is followed by the 17th – a picturesque par-four into an angled green with a lake to the front and left and a densely wooded area to the right.

Mrs W found her ball lying against a dead branch after her approach, needing an unlikely up-and-down for a point.

Somehow, she managed to make enough contact without firing into the water just beyond the flag and nailed the putt.

And then there is one of the most famous holes in France – the par-SIX mentioned above.

From the tips, this is an astonishing 666 metres but not even Lucifer himself would have forced me to hit it from that distance.

The yellow-tee challenge was 565 metres (617 yards) uphill to a raised green.

The snaking fairway was littered with bunkers, but the hole’s primary defence is its sheer length, and I was rather excited to be left with a ten-foot putt for par, which I… missed.

Sadly, the kitchen was closed by the end of our round, but we did have a drink outside of the modern clubhouse, and four groups legitimately playing the same hole was a sight we shall not forget in a hurry.

It completed a terrific day on this gorgeous course.

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