One of a trio of great Sologne courses that lie just to the south of Orléans, Les Aisses may not be quite in the same top bracket as Robert von Hagge’s Les Bordes but nonetheless, it complements the American-inspired layout superbly.
There are 27 holes at Les Aisses Golf on a massive 625-acre property. Each loop was named Rouge, Blanc and Bleu and each configured with two par threes, two par fives and five par fours to give a par of 36 for each circuit. The Rouge/Blanc course was actually slightly shorter than the other two 18-hole combinations but was rated the toughest of all three possible layouts.
The Blanc nine was famed for its bunkers, with some holes having enormous waste area expanses running down almost the full side of the fairway from tee to green. On the other hand, the main hazard on the Rouge nine was water and this was best seen at holes 6 and 8, which dogleg in opposite directions around large lakes.
In 2010, things changed at Les Aisses, specifically for the Red and White loops. The original Olivier Brizon design was modern and occasionally eccentric, but Hawtree Limited changed all that and the style now harks back to the Golden Age.
The main 18-hole course is now simply named Les Aisses while the Blue course is now called La Canne. Expect to see Les Aisses heading upwards in the French rankings, as it’s now a course to be reckoned with.
Russell Talley, Golf Course Architect at Hawtree Limited, provided the following article:
Les Aisses Golf lies in the wonderful Sologne region below Orleans, just off the Loire River. The low lying well-drained sandy soils are excellent for growing golf turf as well as harbouring flora such as scotch pines, oaks, gorse, and – in this location – four types of heather. Because of this it’s reminiscent of those southwest London courses that are much appreciated in the golf world, but without the urban development that seems to encroach on these illustrious courses.
The owner’s brief for Hawtree Ltd was to re-create an old-style course reminiscent and inspired by the old heathland courses of the UK. The existing course, built in the early 1990s, was three loops of nine, of which two of them, the red and white course, were chosen to comprehensively redevelop in style.
All tees and greens were remodelled, along with new fairway bunkering. The layout is much the same for sixteen holes, with two new holes created. Bunkers and green surrounds have been modelled to reflect old-style shaping. All the par-3s are different in character, with the new 7th now playing across a quarry mined out for the construction of the original design. The quarry has regenerated with heather and is a beautiful hole.
A major aspect of the re-development was enlarging fairways by cutting back narrow tree corridors on many holes. This width expansion will allow much needed sunlight for heather regeneration in the roughs and afford excellent views of the golf course and the wonderful skies of the Sologne. The combination of woodland management and the new ‘old look’ to the course will, through the years, develop with even more character and interest.
Very quick review - this is a fabulous golf course. Think Walton Heath with water (just a little). 5 stars.
Les Aisses is a bit out of the way if you are coming to play Paris area courses (90-minute drive), it’s a must see! The first 6 holes are nice, but the last 12 are world class …I mean Top 20 or top 30 world class. Every single hole is a stunner.
Play off the black tees only if you can hit it regularly 250 meters, otherwise favor the whites as it’s not the drive which will hurt you, it’s the approach shots to the greens which are heavily defended by mounds and bunkers. You don’t roll onto the greens, you need to carry them, and hitting a 5 iron or a 3 wood into the green is very different. Fairways are at angle from the tees so the further you carry the rough the easier the approach.
Les Bordes, which is located 20 minutes away, gets all the credit…but Les Aisses is really a fantastic course (top 10 in France) for the May to October golfing period, as the forest makes it a bit too wet during the other 6 months of the year (call ahead in July as that is the period when they aerate the greens).