Golf de l’Ailette, Champagne, France: a review

Golf de l’Ailette has much a variety to its hole designs and some glorious lakeside views

Golf de L'Ailette
(Image credit: Picasa)

Golf de l’Ailette has much a variety to its hole designs and some glorious lakeside views, which are shared by its sister hotel

Golf de l’Ailette is a golf course in the Champagne region of France with much a variety to its hole designs and some glorious lakeside views.

The course takes a while to get into its stride, with the first hole probably the worst on the course.

The 2nd is a par 3 which slopes gently towards the lake. The hole design is unspectacular but the views behind the green make up for this.

The first five holes loop around the driving range which is right in front of the clubhouse, and which the clubhouse terrace overlooks. A feature of the driving range is two sets of rugby posts, put there to act as a target. This must be a local custom, as Golf de Reims (opens in new tab), which we played the next day, also has rugby post on its practice range.

The 4th is another attractive hole, running alongside a huge lake which borders the course. Golf de l’Ailette is at its a most beautiful when it is lakeside.

After the opening five-hole loop, comes a four-hole one on the other side of the clubhouse, and on hilly terrain.

This loop starts with a steeply rising par 3 of which opinion divided, but which I liked. Then follows two par 5s. The 7th plummets away from the tee to a fairway well below it.

The 8th dips to a stream just over halfway along its length and then rises up again.

Golf de l'Ailette 8th

Golf de l'Ailette 8th

The 9th is a very enjoyable par 3, cleverly making use of the descending terrain.

After some steep inclines on this loop, that the back nine at Golf de l’Ailette is generally flat may come as a welcome relief to the calves. The back nine is the superior half and has some beautiful holes.

The par-4 10th requires an approach over water just short of the green.

Then the 11th doglegs around a pretty lake. It’s a par 4 on which the long hitters can attack the green from the tee. The rest of us have to decide how much of the dogleg to cut off. But be too timid and a trio of trees on the fairway can block out the second shot.

The 17th goes back across this lake, as an attractive par 3. But the most beautiful stretch of holes comes at the extremities of the course.

Here is the par-3 14th, which threads its way between two ponds to a raised green, and the 15th, which is a par 4 where the drive cuts off a corner of the lake – again you decide how bold a drive you wish to take on.

The views from the course are superb, with wooded hillside and this large man-made lake, on which are sailing boats weaving to and fro, and on far side of the lake elegant coloured houses which, we were surprised to learn later, were actually part of Center Parcs. On the hillside above the lake is a church, and the bells began to peel out as we played, adding to the enchantment of this particular spot at the time we played.

The closing holes at Golf de l’Ailette have some low stroke indexes (opens in new tab), so if you are playing handicap match this could make things interesting. The 15th is SI 5, the 16th SI 1 and the 18th SI 3.

The 16th is the toughest of the par 5s.  It is narrow, long - 597 yards from the tips, 586 from the yellows – and played to a narrow green flanked by the lake on the right.

Room with a view: Hotel du Golf de l’Ailette

Room with a view: Hotel du Golf de l’Ailette

Also sharing this idyllic lakeside location is the Hotel du Golf de l’Ailette. The hotel faces the lake, with a lawned area, terrace and swimming pool all lakeside. Behind them the bedroom balconies overlook the lake. The rooms are comfortable and well equipped.

Hotel du Golf de l’Ailette is laid out in an angular C shape and to get the best views go for the central section.  On the first and second floors, avoid the lowest and highest numbered rooms on each floor as the view is partly blocked by trees. But I had room 202 and the view, albeit partially obscured, was still grand!

Hôtel du Golf de l'Ailette

Hôtel du Golf de l'Ailette

Both hotel and golf course are part of the Golfy Network (opens in new tab), which offers discounts to members when booking at these venues.

Golfy cards are open to all and are reasonably inexpensive – the basic Indigo Golfy Card costs €45 to UK residents, and gives 25% off green fees at all Golfy courses. It also gives 15% off accommodation at Hotel du Golf de l’Ailette and all other participating hotels. The more expensive Platinum Golfy Card comes with larger discounts and a range of extra benefits.

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.