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Beaune Levernois Golf Club

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‘One of my favourite Par 3s in France’ says Richard Barrett.  Here’s his insider info to the course at Beaune Levernois

Ten minutes drive from Beaune, in the little village of Levernois, lies one of Burgundy’s most famous golf courses. It is rarely crowded, even at weekends, in comparison to other courses around the world. (There are only 300,000 or so registered golfers in France and yet here there are more courses than anywhere else in Europe).

THE FACILITIES

Dress codes are enforced at the club as they try to maintain golfing etiquette, so no jeans, tank tops or exposing body wear. The club-house at Levernois is probably the best stocked in the nearby region, with a great selection of equipment, clothing and extras. It is a bit pricey though, so ask before you buy. The bar and restaurant are spacious and there is a terrace looking over the 9th and 18th Greens.

The practice range is small but functional. There is a putting green and a single bunker to practice out of, although you are forbidden to hit bunker shots to the practice green. The driving range is ‘carpet only’ no grass practice area as of yet. A bucket of 28 balls will cost you 2 euros and the machine operates on euro coins, not tokens as in most cases.

Once you have warmed up. The first tee awaits about 25 meters from the parking just past the practice putting green. The yardage is in meters and is taken from the white tees.

THE COURSE

Hole 1 – 375m – Par 4

This is a fairly easy hole to start with. A drive anywhere on the fairway will leave you with a good chance of par and birdie is not out of the question here. The fairway is wide, so don’t be aggressive here, just play percentage golf. For the approach, aim to the center of the green for the safe play, as the green is not tricky at all. If you hit the center of the green - 2 putts and par is a great way to start. Beware of the mounds to the right off the tee at about 130m out.

Hole 2 – 311m – Par 4

From the slightly raised 2nd tee, aim your tee shot to the left center of the fairway. Long hitters beware, to the right of the fairway and the green is a small lake, one of nine on this course. A 3 Wood off the tee will leave you with an approach in the Pitching Wedge range. There is a bunker protecting the front of this green. Don’t miss right as there is a tree and the lake. Aim for the center of the green with your approach and rather be long at the back than short in the bunker. The flag placement here dictates whether this is an easy hole, or a frustrating one. The green has slope on the right that helps any balls that land on the right side of the green, to end up off the green with a tricky chip shot to save. This might be a short hole and technically a real birdie chance, but if not played correctly, can also be your undoing.

Hole 3 – 143m – Par 3

This, in my opinion, is one of my favorite Par 3’s in France. It has everything, a raised tee area (about 8 meters over the green) a lake to play over, tall trees behind the green that give a false sense of distance to the eyes and a green that is very wide across but not very deep. The green slopes from right to left and depending on the whether the flag is placed at each end or in the middle, will definitely determine what you score here. Club selection is crucial, as too short and you are swimming, too long and you are in the trees. A 7 iron should do the job and place you on the green. Getting on the green is part of the job but if you have left yourself on the wrong side of the green to the flag, making par here is great. Beware of the breaks on this green; they can be very deceptive, make sure to check your line from both sides of the hole. Nail the tee shot and you could be looking at a birdie.

Hole 4 – 506m – Par 5

Follow the path through the trees and keep walking (about 100 meters from the 3rd Green) and you will find the 4th tee and the first, long, par 5 on this course. As you walk to the tee, look to your left, yes, that is the fairway and the green back there. The tee shot here is crucial, take driver and aim over the mound to your right at about 1 o’clock from the tee. Be aware of the bunkers on the right side of the fairway parallel to this mound waiting to catch any miss hit or too aggressive tee shot. As you may have noticed on your walk to the tee, this fairway is of motorway proportions. Play the percentage shot here, middle of the fairway. This is a three shot par 5; believe me, unless you are someone who hits their driver 260 meters or more. There is a bunker protecting the front of this green for those ambitious second shots (when the course is dry and hard and the ball rolls forever.) For your second shot, take a 6 iron and lay up, leaving you with sand wedge at the green. This green is again, deceptive. It looks fairly flat, but check your line and don’t second guess here. 2 putts and par is yours.

Hole 5 – 375m – Par 4

This par 4 is a little tester. This is a slight dog-leg left with 2 approaches off the tee. You can play along the OB area to your left and aim up the left side of the fairway or you can play a draw, which is the sensible play. Your approach shot will probably be with a 9 iron from about 125 m or so. This green will make you feel like you have stepped into the mountains for a while. There is a huge slope and this green is 2 tiered, end up on the wrong tier and your score card will surely take a hit. If you come up a little short on the approach, don’t worry, as there is a slope that will push your ball towards the target. If you are on the right tier, then par is in the bag.

Hole 6 – 190m – Par 3

After the 3 short starting holes on this course, this 190m par 3 serves up a great challenge. Depending on how far you hit the ball and the weather conditions, club selection here could be anything from a 3-iron to a 3-wood. The green is slightly elevated and there is a bunker on the right of the green. Out of Bounds is along the tree line to your left and to your right is a little forest waiting to accept wayward tee shots. The green is medium sized and slopes from right/front to left (towards that sand trap). Be aware of the lake hidden to the right of the green in the direction of the 7th tee. Par here is not an uncommon score, but then so is double bogey. Play the center of the green and you should have 2 putts to a great par.

Hole 7 – 298 – Par 4

What a contrast. When looking at the yardage on this hole after that long par 3, you realize how testing this course is going to be from here on. This is a sharp dog leg left and lining up the tee shot is crucial. Aim over the trees to the left edge of the small lake in front of you on the mound. Play a slight draw with either driver or 3-wood and you should be in ideal position for the approach. The green is again protected by a lateral bunker at the front. This green is very receptive to high approach shots, so go for the flag here and birdie is always possible. The green has two slopes to it. One sloping from the back to a “trough” in the green and the other sloping from the back edge of the bunker. Sand or pitching wedge should do for the approach. Sink that putt and its off to the 8th.

Hole 8 – 391m – Par 4

The yardage changes again. Adding on another 100m but staying as a par 4, this hole is straight forward. Take driver and play up the left hand side of the fairway. This takes the lake to the back left of the green out of play on the approach and should you overshoot the green, there is ample run off area to the back right. The only difficulty is another bunker protecting the front of the green. The green slopes from right to left and back towards the bunker hidden from view back left. This bunker can be your saviour as it has a wooden backboard on it to stop balls rolling into the water. If you have hit a decent drive, your approach should be played with a 5 or 6-iron. For those not sure, play up the right side of the green leaving you an open chip or putt onto the green, but this option leaves you in a bogey situation if the approach is miss-judged. There are no huge breaks on this green so once you are on it, 2 putts should guarantee your par.

Hole 9 – 509m – Par 5

Two keys to this long par 5; the tee shot must be up the right hand side or it becomes a 3 shot par 5 with the approach over water. The fairway is larger than it seems, but narrows sharply at the green entrance with the lake and tree protecting the approach from the left. If you hit your tee shot up the right, then the second key is to attack the green with a long iron, hybrid or fairway wood. Check your distance and go for it. There is bunker at the back and right that will capture any draws that “go straight”. The green is large and pin placement may well determine whether you score well or just par-out. This hole, although with water etc, is definitely a chance to get back some of the shots you might have lost on the front nine, so far.

BACK NINE

Hole 10 – 366m – Par 4

The 10th and 11th holes are situated across the road from the car park. People who are playing here for the first time can often be seen walking around the car park after coming off the 9th hole…Cross the bridge at the entrance to the car park and follow the signs to the 10th tee. Along with the 10th and 11th holes, there is also a 9 hole ‘compact’ course for practice or beginners. The 10th hole is interesting and has the most elevated green on the course. This 366m par 4 is played uphill so it adds about 10 to 15m on the approach. From the tee, aim at the cluster of trees straight out on the opposite side of the fairway and play a draw. Beware that Out of Bounds is just where those trees are situated and the fairway narrows considerably around 125m from the green. An 8 iron on approach should give you the loft needed to attack this green. Always “club-up” here. If you would normally hit a 9 iron, hit an 8 etc. This is to allow for the elevation to the green. The course at Levernois is practically flat, so often players come up short here after playing “flat approaches” for 9 holes. This green is full of breaks and slopes and is deceptive due to its layout. Take your time here and par is in the bag.

Hole 11 – 395m – Par 4

This is a downhill par 4 from an elevated tee. There are trees to the left and right, so an accurate tee shot here is important. Take driver and aim a little left of center depending on wind conditions. The approach should be from about 130m with an 8 or 9 iron (again, depending on wind conditions) as it is downhill to probably the smallest green on the course. A lofted, soft landing approach is the key here; otherwise you are off the green. There are bunkers back left to catch those wayward shots. This green breaks from both sides. Take your time again and have a look at the line from both sides. Sink your putt and follow the signs across the road to the 12th.

Hole 12 – 346m – Par 4

There is a lateral water hazard and out of bounds to your right, towards the apartment hotel building. The forest to the left of the fairway is waiting for those balls that try to play too safe. With your driver, aim over the mound in front right of the tee and towards the green. The fairway is large a flat. The approach is again to an elevated, receptive green. They love their bunkers at the front of the greens as can be seen once again on this hole. The green slopes from front to back, so you can attack this green. Putting is challenging, but if you are on for 2, then par is feasible. Whatever you do, don’t go long over the green or too far right, it’s OB and trees and definite double bogey country!

Hole 13 – 166m – Par 3

This par 3 is original. It is deceptive because of the “amphitheatre” surrounding the green. There is a bunker front right and anything hit over the ‘rim’ of this giant crater and you can start thinking about a safari holiday. If you over hit your tee shot by a few meters, it may benefit you as the ball should roll back onto the green from the steep slope behind/left/right. 6 iron here is a good choice as it has loft in the club to allow for the ball to stop relatively quickly on the narrowish green. Club selection here is based solely on distance. I have seen players hit 3; 4 and 5-irons here to great effect. Of course, if you’re Tiger, then a 9 iron will do….. The green is easy to read and if you were successful with your tee shot, then a birdie and/or par is the order of the day. Anything else and, well, that’s up to you to decide.

Hole 14 – 440m – Par 5

Draw, Draw, Draw….If you can’t hit a draw, just aim as close to the left tree line as you can and hit a very light fade. However, if you aim at the big tree on the opposite side of the fairway at the edge of the farmlands surrounding the course (which also happens to be out of bounds) and hit a solid draw, you put yourself in a position to attack this par 5, in two. The fairway narrows to only about 10m at 135m from the green and there is water to the left here to catch those draws that become nasty hooks. There is (you guessed it…) another bunker protecting the front of this reasonably flat green. The bunker is very shallow. In the middle of summer, depending on how much rain has fallen, the greens at this course can be like the car park. Take this into account if you are attacking this green with your second shot as you will most likely be using a fairway wood. If the greens are hard, then laying up is the wise option. Play to the center of this green and the flag will never be more than 2 putts away.

Hole 15 – 169m – Par 3

This hole is bordered by out of bounds up the right side. The green, for once, does not have a bunker protecting the front allowing for shots to roll up onto the green. Being a ‘handicap12’ hole, it is one of the easier holes on the course and a great opportunity to birdie. However, don’t be aggressive here. Play the center of the green and assure the par. If your tee shot is on the green, you will be putting for birdie anyway. The green is readable and not particularly challenging so it shouldn’t provide too many problems for a 2 putt par.

Hole 16 – 314m – Par 4

At 314m, this is a fairly short par 4 and should pose no great problems. There is however water and trees to both the left and right of this fairway. Play your tee shot down the right side of the fairway to open up the green for the approach. A 250m drive leaves you with a sand wedge or pitching wedge to the green. There are bunkers protecting the front of the green for those “Tigeresque” tee shots of 300 plus meters on dry hot days that might just roll onto the green. For most of us, though, this is ‘fortunately’ a problem we don’t have to worry about. The green here is medium sized and an approach to the center of the green should, again, leave a 2 putt par. This hole is also a great opportunity to grab a birdie opportunity with 2 holes to play. Particularly as the 17th is rated ‘handicap 1’, the most difficult on the course and the 18th, ‘handicap 7’.

Hole 17 – 358m – Par 4

Hit your tee shot up the left side. This might leave a longer approach, but eliminates the fairway bunkers on the right side. The approach here is the most important shot on this hole. The green has a bunker back left and is egg shaped – left to right. Aim for the right side of this green as it is the largest landing area. 3 putts are not uncommon here and you soon find out why this is ‘handicap 1’…

Hole 18 – 477m – Par 5

The final hole; this hole is like a mirror image of the 9th. The water on the right and the trees on the left could become very familiar to the aggressive player. Hit your drive up the left side to take the water out of play. The green is not very big, so chose wisely before going for it in 2. More often than not, an aggressive 2nd shot will over shoot the green leaving you with a difficult approach back to the hole. A 5 wood here on the approach may be the club to give you a chance at that elusive eagle. It may also give you the chance to reach into your bag for another ball…Coming in from the left side, does allow room for the ball to overshoot the green without any major consequences. Playing in from the right brings the water into play, so laying up from the right side, at your favorite wedge distance, is the low risk option here. The green is not very deep, putting here poses no major difficulties, except for the fact that the whole clubhouse can see you…A welcome drink and perhaps something to eat await you at the 19th hole.


Richard Barrett