Golf de la Saint Baume – Stunning Natural Landscape In The Heart Of Provence

Golf de la Saint Baume is located in the heart of Provence situated around halfway between Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Brignoles in France.

The golf course gets its name from the towering Saint Baume mountains dominating the countryside.  The summit is 1,147 metres.

Saine Baume is situated also in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Sainte Baume , one of the concerns of the golf is to safeguard its ecosystem, to preserve and enhance the local flora and fauna. The Golf de la Sainte Baume is therefore one of the few golf courses in France awarded by the international GEO ecolabel, issued by the Golf Environment Organization, a fine illustration of its ecological commitment.

Wikipedia says the Tradition of Provence, Mary Magdalene, Lazare of Bethany, and Maximinus, one of the Seventy Disciples and some companions, expelled by persecutions from the Holy Land, traversed the Mediterranean in a frail boat with neither rudder nor mast and landed at the place called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer near Arles.

A very warm welcome to Sainte Baume from the club’s teaching pro, Thomas Rehberger

Lazarus came to Marseille and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalene is said to have retired to a cave on a hill by Marseille, La Sainte-Baume (“Holy Cave”, baumo in Provençal), where she gave herself up to a life of prayer and contemplation. The cave is now a Christian pilgrimage site.

Louis IX of France visited the grotto in 1254. The site was under the management of the Dominicans when it was pillaged during the French Revolution. They subsequently returned in 1859 at the behest of Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire.

In 1941, a hostel and school were established to serve as refuge for those fleeing Nazi persecution.

Frenchman Robert Berthet designed Sainte Baume in 1988.

It was well over 40 years later the Saint Baume club was founded in 1988 and with the golf course designed by Robert Berthet.

Berhet is a graduate of Paris School of Architecture and in 1978 founded ARCHIGOLF, and since then has designed or remodelled some 50 golf courses.  He considers a golf course is a tool for town planning. A golf course can allow the rehabilitation of dumps, quarries and other derelict places in very attractive aesthetic and financial conditions.

A golf course is not a piece of nature but a landscape and, then can be the frame of a park, thus playing fully its part in bettering the quality of life of the community.

Berthet believes that the selection of a ‘landscaping theme’ for the course design is a sound way to enhance the site’s characteristics and ensure the uniqueness of each project.

Such a golf course can be, by itself, a strong communication medium for the promoter.

All but a couple of his course design work was outside his native France.

Golf de la Sainte Baume (Photo –

Overhead view of Saint Baume – 18th in centre with two bunkers, 3rd hole far right and the third hole in upper right of the photograph the sixth.


Ted and Bernie’s much-travelled headcover finds himself a great spot at Sainte Baume Golf Club. Be sure to keep up with Ted’s travels @Ted_Koala

Saint Baume is a full 18-hole layout measuring 5,982 metres from the white tees, 5,679 metres from the yellow tees, 5,083 metres off the blue and for the ladies, the course plays to 4,868 metres off the forward or red tees.

What Berthet did at Sainte Baume was to preserve a natural setting and drawing strongly on the existing landscape without moving mountains of earth to impose something is not totally out of character with its surrounds.

The opening hole at Saine Baume GC

Looking off the tee at the par-5 first hole at Sainte Baume (Photo –

Looking into the green at the Sainte Baume opening hole. (Photo –

The second hole, a par-4 of 313 metre off the yellow tees, is an early example of Berthet’s work.  Standing high up on tee, you are faced with a drive over oaks trees bordering a water feature well below and with the hole doglegging right.  The second hole is rated the No. 5 index but a magnificent risk-and-reward hole just two holes into the round.

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Sainte Baume – Second hole measuring 313-metres off the yellow tees. (Photo –

The view off Sainte Baume’s second tee – a tee shot needing to clear the water and the trees to find the fairway. Photo –

It was a real joy for this journalist to clear the trees and then descend to see my golf ball in the middle of the fairway.

For a flyover of the second hole, and thank you to Sainte Baume, click on the following:

My own first ‘on-course’ video was taken on the third tee and looking down a hole measuring 340-yards and again off the yellow tee but what drew my attention was a wonderfully-looking and truly French-looking old house on the rightside of the tee.

The first of the four par-3s is at the fourth hole.

Here you’re faced with a challenge of 167-metres.  The green at the fourth is very generous with the only real trouble being two bunkers just off the left front of the green.

Looking into the par-3 fourth hole at Sainte Baume. Photo –

There is a stream that runs down the left side near the tee that makes it also a very attractive-looking hole.

Two pars in four holes and I’m heading quietly confident to the ‘hardest’ hole of the course – the par-4 fifth hole.

The stream I mentioned to the left off the third tee now runs down the rightside of the fourth and with the fairway narrowing very appreciably, and very much like the neck in a bottle, and with the stream crossing just short of the green.

The sixth hole is uphill and again not overly long at 330-metres and a good chance for a par, at worst.  But in walking from the green take a few seconds to admire the view of the Saint Baume mountain range.

The sixth green dwarfed by the impressive-looking Saint Baume mountains.

As mentioned earlier, course designer Berthet let Saint Beame pretty much the way he found it working with the landscape in laying out the holes and this is very evident at the par-5 seventh hole.

For a first time like myself, I was uncertain for a short time where to go and I guess I was not the first to be a little lost.   The hole is second longest on the card at 430-metres and playing to a par-5, and also the second hardest.

So, you have the No. 1 index hole being the fifth, the third toughest the sixth and now the seventh, and No. 2 index.

The tee shot is high up to the fairway running from right to left well below while the green is perched high above as it the opposite to the tee-off area you’ve just left.   For those walking the course like myself, it was a real climb to the green but then a great reward seeing my third shot had held the green.

On the fairway at the seventh and now to get it on the green. Photo –

My video hereunder is taken from the 7th green looking back down on the fairway and back up in the direction of the tee.

For a flyover of the seventh hole, and thank you to Sainte Baume, click on the following:

I found my way to the eighth and a super-looking par-3 of 163-metres, and again from the yellow tees, to a raised tee and with a wall running the width of the hole at about the 145-metre mark making it imperative you clear the wall and not be short.

A great par-3 design and again, using the contours of the land to present a great-looking hole.

Given time would not allow me to play a full 18 holes, I followed a group who were heading down the closeby par-3 16th, a downhill hole measuring 160-metres and then followed that up tackling teh par-4 17th and finishing off walking down the closing hole, playing to 324-metres and number 13 index on the scorecard.

The final hole at Saint Baume – 324-metres off the yellow tees and ranked 13th on the scorecard though the backdrop is No. 1

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