Sainte Maxime Golf … An Undulating Harradine Design Full Of Golfing Ups & Downs.

One year in attending the Arnold Palmer Invitational we rented premises overlooking a golf course in the Orlando area.

Every morning, I looked out over this particular hole as I munched on my Coco Pops thinking how do you play the hole, what’s the best option off the tee and then the right route into the green.  It was an uphill hole with all the trouble down the lefthand side.

All the time I was thinking to myself that here’s a hole, and if I do get to play the course, I could really play well on this particular hole.

As it turned-out the club in question offered me the opportunity to play the course later in the week though in playing this particular hole I have been staring out from the verandah of our rented house, I made a complete mess of the hole, and in the process losing a ball.

Golf de Sainte Maxime and just a 10-minute drive from the beaches at Saint Maxime. (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com

To say I was disappointed was an understatement.

The same thoughts came flooding back in returning to visit the Saint Maxime region of France, and where Tour Miss and I have now travelled on a number of occasions.

In booking into our rented dwelling, the upstairs and lovely apartment overlooked a golf course – the Saint Maxime Golf Club course.

And a quick check of the club’s website and the hole we overlooked was the par-4 fifth hole.

Sainte Maxime Golf Club – A straight drive required off the first tee (Photo -www.golfbytourmiss.com)

View into the par-3 fourth hole at Sainte Maxime GC (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Sainte Maxime GC – Fifth hole – View from the white tees.  “The Office” in the opening video above is just off to the right (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Sainte Maxime GC and the 5th green and fairway (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Now for three days, I sat munching still on my Coco Pops watching players putt out on the par-3 fourth hole and then make their way in motorised buggies to the fifth hole, a par-5.

The fifth measures 441-yards off the white and 405-yards off the yellow.  It’s the No. 17 ranked hole or, if you like to refer to it, the second ‘easiest’ on a very undelating golf course hence the need for motorised buggies.

Saint Maxime was opened less than 30-years ago in 1992.  It was designed by the father-and-son team of Donald and Peter Harradine.   Don’s step-father had been designing golf courses and with Don taking-up a similar career to design and/or remodel around 175 courses in mainly Germany, Switzerland, Holland and, of course, France.

 

Sainte Maxime – The view of the par-3 seventh tee (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

In was in 1929, Don Harradine obtained his first opportunity to demonstrate his talents as a golf course architect by remodeling the old nine hole Bad Ragaz course in Switzerland. The existing 18-hole Bad Ragaz course was built by Don and co-designed by himself and Fred Hawtree and is the venue of the yearly and very popular Swiss Senior’s EPGA Event.

In writing this I can say I’ve had the pleasure of playing Bad Ragaz, and former European Seniors Tour stop, on route from a European Tour event in Germany to Crans-Montana in Switzerland for the European Masters.

Don was the first member to join the British Association of Golf Course Architects and was a founder member of the European Society of Golf Course Architects. Both these organizations later amalgamated to form the European Institute of Golf Course Architects.

Stunning Riviera view off the par-5 11th hole at Saint Maxime (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Looking out over St. Tropez on the distance shoreline and down the 11th fairway at Sainte Maxime. (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Peter Harradine, and who was born next to a golf course near Berne in Switzerland, has continued his father’s work.  In reading the company’s website in 1965-1966 Peter went to the U.S.A to study the theoretical and practical aspects of landscaping and golf course design and construction. Upon returning to Europe, he built and designed many courses with his father and other prominent European Architects of the time.

A visit to the United Arab Emirates in 1976 to investigate the possibilities of a golf course led to the subsequent establishment of the Dubai office in 1989 and has personally designed and co-designed over 160 golf courses in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Looking into the 11th green at Sainte Maxime GC (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

View from behind the 11th hole flag back up the fairway at Sainte Maxime GC (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

Harradine-designed courses in the Middle East include the Doha Golf Club course, and first golf course in Qatar that has been a long-time host to the Commercial Bank Qatar Master, and also the first golf course to be built in Abu Dhabi and that being the 1989 designed National Course at the Abu Dhabi Golf club and venue each year for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

I’ve been fortunate to attend both tournaments and play both courses on a number of occasions and now fortunate to tee-up on the Sainte Maxine Golf Club but what lay in store was a golf experience the like I don’t think I’ve experienced before.

View from the 13th tee at Sainte Maxime GC (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

The stunning view from the 16th hole at Sainte Maxime GC. (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

The course is located just a 10 minute drive from the town centre of Sainte-Maxime, or half an hour from Saint Tropez.  It is laid-out over 65 hectares of undulating fairways weaving in and out of wild scrub land and oak forests of the Var, with fantastic views of the bay of Saint-Tropez in the near distance along with the dominating Maures and Esterel mountains.

The course measures 6,023 metrs off the back tees, 5,847 metres off the white an 5,439 metres off the yellow while the ladies set-up is 4,584 metres.   What the scorecard does not detail is the elevation changes from standing high on the seventh tee as well as the dramatic views of the French Riviera from the 11th tee, 14th green, 16th green and the view looking out over the Mediterranean ahead of the huge drop from the 17th tee to the green well below.

It’s why a motorised cart is essential, and also mandatory under club policy, given the distances from holes such as the 10th green up to the highest point of the course on the 11th tee.

Sainte Maxine boasts five par fives – 2nd, 5th, 11th, 13th and the last – along with a similar number of par-3s – 4th, 7th, 9th, 12th and the 17th.

View to the left off the 17th tee looking out over the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

The penultimate hole at Sainte Maxime – The par-3 17th. (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

The standout holes are the par-3 seventh, the par-5 11th, the par-4 16th and the stunning views from the 17th.

Sainte Maxine may not be everyone’s golfing cup of tea but if you’re in the region and looking for a game, it’s well worth the experience of tackling this Harradine designed course.   It’s not easy and some holes will test your golfing patience but to play holes like the seventh, 11th and 17th are, as they say, worth the price of admission.

And how did I go on the 5th?

Pleased to say, I avoided all the trouble down the right side and walked off with a par.   Little did I know then, I’d make a real splash of the seventh.



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