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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
Just an hour from the Channel Tunnel, Belle Dune (opens in new tab) 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.
A warm and sunny afternoon in late May with a gentle but cooling breeze
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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.
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.
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.
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 front nine concludes with an exciting, short par 4 where the longer hitters will enjoy giving it a go.
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.
The twelfth is reminiscent of the third, though this time there is a backdrop of dunes rather than pine.
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 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.
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.
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.
Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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