Evian - 15 POINTS
Ah, Evian. A luxurious spa town nestled at the foot of the Alps with a name evocative of class, style and sophistication. When you hear they have a golf course, founded by the purveyors of the quality water, and which hosts the 5th Major in ladies' golf, you probably expect to be in for a rare treat don't you? Well, just hold your horses and read on!
The setting is phenomenal. Although, it would be fair to say you only really get the benefit of the setting over Lake Geneva on the 2nd tee (that's the one used in all the pictures - like we're doing here!). They have also spent a lot of money on this golf course. In recent years the course was extensively renovated by the team behind Celtic Manor. Now, I'm not sure that is a ringing endorsement in everyone's book but the course had major drainage issues which these guys have some experience in at least......
As part of the refurbishment, there was a rejig of various holes and new greens put in. You now start at the old 15th which runs alongside the driving range (watch out for incoming balls) before heading to the spectacular par 3. That may well whet your appetite for more great views to come but don't get too excited. Sure, this is a pleasant part of the world, but there are other courses in the area which make more of the vista. If great views of the Alps are what you are after then head to Crans Montana instead.
Evian isn't the easiest course in the world. The rough is always thick and this is one of those courses where you just need to take your punishment and chop out. The course is pretty tight as well - especially over the first nine. Despite the work on the course it still suffers from drainage problems. If you have a wet day here then expect to get a few mud balls and definitely play preferred lies. The course isn't the most imaginative in the world - you will get a lot of relatively straight, dull holes with tricked up greens and surrounding areas. Don't get me wrong, it's not awful, but I wouldn't imagine many people would come away raving about it.
While the nearby hotel is supposedly of a very high quality, it has to be said that the welcome here isn't the warmest in golf. That's a shame because there are many French courses which absolutely go against the stereotype of the grumpy French host.
BOOKING THE COURSE
There's no problem getting on at Evian. The course is open, weather depending, from February to November every year. Hotel residents get on for free in the winter and for only €65 in high summer. Non-residents will be charged between €45 and €95 a round depending on the time of year. There are also good twilight rates available too. All the information is available here. You can hire whatever you need - trolleys, carts, shoes, clubs (even individual clubs should you wish) - so if you are in the hotel and fancy a quick 9 then there's no problem getting kitted out.
Evian probably isn't the place you are going to base yourself for a golf holiday and unless you are staying at the attached spa hotel I would encourage you to jog on. If you are staying though there are plenty of diversions as the website states 'Just a few hundred metres from the course and Academy, facilities include the 5-star Hôtel Royal, 4-star Hôtel Ermitage, 11 bars & restaurants, 2 spas, Evian's Thermal Spa, Evian Casino and the Grange au Lac auditorium that is the venue for the annual Evian's Musical Encounters.'
You are about an hour for Geneva where the is plenty to keep you occupied and a couple of hours from Crans Montana if you fancy the ultimate Alpine golf experience!
Route du Golf,
Phone : +33 4 50 75 46 66