Golf Club De Servanes – From A Van Gogh Landscape To A Masterpiece Golf Design.

What a superb blank canvas handed to Thierry Sprecher and Gery Watine when afforded the opportunity to work together in designing Golf de Servanes –

Golf de Servanes is located in the south of France around halfway between Arles and Aix-en-Provence and roughly an hour’s drive north-west of Marseille.

What makes Golf de Servanes so magnificent is that the course is laid out right at the foot of the Alpilles mountain range that is about 25 km long by about 8 to 10 km wide, running in an east-west direction between the Rhône and Durance rivers.

The Alpilles were immortalized in art by Vincent van Gogh, who painted many images of the Alpilles’ landscapes during his time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on the north side of the mountains and less than 20 kilometres from Golf de Servanes located directly south on the opposite side of the mountain range.

Vincent van Gogh’s artwork featuring the Aprilles.

I’m not sure if Sprecher and Watine were thinking about Van Gogh when they laid out Golf de Servances but, and if I can borrow a painting term, the course is a masterpiece with the Alpilles either staring you in the face or looking over your shoulder for all 18 holes.

It was a visit to St. Andrews in Scotland that got Spreecher into golf.  A decisive turning point, as Specher highlights on his ‘Golf Projects’ website, was during a trip to Morocco where on the road to the Goulimine camel market in the far south, he met Théodor and Helen Muller, whose colourful taxi he shared. Ted Muller was an architect in Westport, Connecticut, United States.

Theirry Sprecher (Thank You ‘Project Golf’

Specher said that ‘on the cushions of the old blue Chrysler driven by “Coeur joyeux” we discussed and I was invited to come and work for a few months in his architectural firm’. It was the discovery of another world, other ways of working and also golf.

In 1972 Sprecher graduated with a master’s degree in landscape architecture or a master’s degree in landscape architecture.

Watine, and now aged 67, competed on the main European Tour between 1974 and 1993 contesting 74 events but managing just one top-10 and that was a sixth in the 1982 Lancome Trophy and won that year by Aussie David Graham.

From 1994 to 1997 he ran the Moroccan Golf Federation.

Then from 1997 to 2003 Watine teed-up in 97 European Seniors events and picking-up victory in the 2005 Italian Seniors Open while he also collected managed two seconds and three third places, and in the process earning close to Euro 500,000 in Seniors prize-money.

Former European and Seniors Tour French star Gery Watine

Watine recorded more than 25 other victories and was ranked French No. 1  for several years. He also held the top spot on the senior circuit.

Since March 2011, he has been running the Blue Green Academy A high-level trainer: Between 1975 and 1985: he obtained all his e-diplomas.

Both Sprecher and Watine certainly had the credentials when approached in 1992 to design De Servanes.

Right from the opening hole, they took full advantage of the Alpilles backdrop and what a first hole, as well as an introductory hole to a golf course.  Measruing just 255-metres, it plays to a par-4 and is rated the club’s No. 18 index hole.

The tee area itself is an artwork of various features, the like I’ve never seen before on the opening tee of a golf course, while you step on the tee as if Sprecher and Watine were gifting you the possibily of maybe an opening eagle, a birdie or, at worst, an easy par.

(Footnote – I do say in the video it is a par-3 but it is a par-4)

A bunker left guarding the opening hole green at De Servanes (Photograph –

After putting out, the next three holes are laid out along the foot of the Alpilles commencing with the par-3 127-metres second, the 312-metre slighly uphill par-4 third and then the uphill par-5 fourth hole, measuring 434-metres.

Before walking off the fourth be sure and take time to take-in the view

The thrill and the backdrop of playing the first four holes gives way to the knowledge in standing on the fifth tee you are staring down the fairway of the No. 1 index hole – the par-4 fifth measuring 379-metres off the yellow tees.

It’s not to say you don’t afford the four prior holes any less respect but with the fifth being a dog-leg left hole and with a inviting bunker on the right side of the dog-leg, it is time to focus a little harder.

The fifth gives way to one of the gems on the golf course.

No, it’s not the view as the Alpinnes are behind you but then you stand high, seemingly with some authority, looking down at an island-like green at the par-3 sixth hole.   The water comes also comes into play off the seventh, ninth, 11th and 12th tees, as well the back of the eighth green.

That’s six holes forming like a central golf course water feature at De Servanes.

Holes seven (par-4, 387-metres) and eight (par-4, 347-metres) run side-by-side and with the ninth, the second of the front nine par-5s, and at 462-metres, taking you back to the clubhouse.

There is a double water trouble on nine as you have to clear the water off the tee that forms part of the central golf course water feature I mentioned two paragraphs above while there is a small creek running much of the way down the rightside of the hole.

Holes 10 and 11, and rated respectively No. 17 and 15 on the hole index rating, are great opportunities to start the inward nine on a positive note given they measure, and respectively, just 336-metres and 324-metres.

The 12th is a par-3 measuring 134-metres and, surprisingly the longest of the four par-3s.  And the 12th is one of the holes comprising the central water feature given your tee shot is a near full water carry, and not all that easy with the club rating the hole ‘second hardest’.  (Video thanks to De Servanes)

Holes 13 (par-5, 486-metres), 14 (par-4, 315-metres), 15 (par-3, 123-metres) and 16 (par-4, 359-metres) are up in the top portion of the golf and with the only other water feature at De Servanes and a lake at the back of the 15th green and to the back and side of the adjacent 16th tee.

This brings us to the penultimate hole and the shortest par-4 on the course, measuring just 250-metres off the tee, and that’s five metres shorter than the opening hole makes 17 a challenge is it’s uphill and the fairway sloping appreciably left-to-right – view the video below.

The 17th green at Golf club de Servanes. (Photograph –

Now if you thought the opening hole was relatively straight forward then the final round is a vastly different challenge. Yes, a good view off the tee but all the focus here is just finding the fairway.

It is the fourth of the par-5s and at 478-metres off the Yellow tees it is the second longest on the golf course.  As you can see from the photograph, the hole is downhill and dog-legs left.  Anything errant and right is going to run into the trees.

As well, it’s much the same once you clear the dog-leg and hit into the green.  A very different and trickier finishing hole than the very tasty offering at the first.

A par at the last would be a very welcome reward as you then head to the comfort and superb ambience of the clubhouse.

The 18th hole at Golf club de Servanes. (Photograph –

Looking into the green at the 8th hole at Golf club de Servanes. (Photograph –

Contact details:-

Golf de Servanes – 13890 Mouries
Tel: (33) 04 90 47 59 95
Fax: (33) 04 90 47 52 58


Website –





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