Golf de Valescure is a time-honoured place founded by a group of English aristocrats who, appreciative of the mild climate in the French Riviera, began playing here as far back as 1895. Some years later, in around 1910, the course was extended to 18 holes by the famous and acclaimed golf course architect Harry Shapland Colt. Valescure can’t claim to be the oldest in France – that’s in Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and opened in 1856 – but it has certainly welcomed many generations of golfers on to its lawns and is the longest established in the Var.
The course is one of the shortest on the Côte d’Azur, with around 5,000 metres of yellow in an oasis of calm between Saint Raphaël and Fréjus. A flat terrain, it’s surrounded by hundreds of Pinus pinea, stone or parasol pines, and is a very pleasant course to play without the need for a golf cart, even in the summer.
You’re in the right place if you’re a relaxed type of golfer; one who doesn’t want to spend the whole day out on the course. As long as it’s not too busy, the 18-hole Par 68 course can be played in three hours – subject to your skill. It’s nestled so nicely into the landscape; one is very aware that even a century ago, there were people who knew how to design and build beautiful golf courses.
The longest and most complex hole is the third: a Par 5 over 432 metres. Of the dozen Par 4 holes, there are five over 300 metres in length. Good results are possible on these, but you should be aware of the seemingly easy Par 3 holes. The 11th, a long Par 3 of 191 metres, leaves plenty of room to play. Other shorter ones, from 90 to 140 metres, require a precise tee directly onto – or at least close to – the green.
Tight spots, water obstacles, and difficult and rough bunkers are skilfully distributed over the relatively small area of Valescure. As it says on the website: “It is necessary to know how to sacrifice length for precision.”
A real eye-catcher is the imposing English-style clubhouse, which was built a long time ago and is showing its age. Much should be done to protect this impressive structure; it would be a pity if it fell into decay or was knocked down and replaced by a modern building. The toilets and hygiene facilities require urgent attention too – they are verging on a disgrace for the players.
All in all, I like to play in Vales-cure, in large part due to the nice staff and the good service in the pro shop and restaurant. At the moment, large banners adorn parts of the square with impressive black and white images from the past 100 years, letting visitors immerse themselves in the history of the club.
We must pay homage to the men who founded it, and to Harry Colt for its development. I always look forward to playing in the shade and security of the old parasol pines.
Lengths of the different tees:
5,019m white/Slope 135
4,732m yellow/Slope 131
4,495m blue/Slope 136
4,298m red/Slope 129
Driving range, putting and chipping greens
Clubhouse with restaurant and beautiful terrace as well as a well-stocked pro shop
Green fee for 18 holes: €78
The course is open all year
725 Avenue des Golfs
83700 Saint Raphaël
+33 (0)4 94 82 41 42
*Originally published in the #177 edition of Riviera Insider