Thursday, October 26, 2006

Golf de Morfontaine - Vive la France?

The 3rd hole at Morfontaine


I am adding a new feature to the blog to help give some insight into how I go about trying to get access to play some of the more difficult courses on the top 100 list. When I set about this quest I figured that Augusta National would be the most difficult to get on and that's probably true, although I do have two outside chances that I continue to pursue, but not too aggressively because it's bad form to ask to get on. I have a couple of things cooking to get me on to Pine Valley and, god willing, I am tentatively scheduled for Cypress Point in 2007. When I complete all 100 I will reveal some of my secrets to gaining access and how I was able to get on to some of the more private courses. I already consider myself lucky to have gained access to some very exclusive and difficult courses to get on such as Fishers Island, Los Angeles Country Club and The National Golf Links of America.

As I started this quest I made up a list of courses and broke them down into various categories - 'easy to get on', 'possible', 'difficult' and 'no clue'. The private courses in Japan go into the 'no clue' category as do several private US courses that I don't even have the remotest contact at. Morfontaine also goes into this category.

In an occasional series I will keep you appraised of how I am doing trying to get access to the course. Ranked #47 in the world, Morfontaine Golf Club is located in the Chantilly region of France, about 30 miles north of Paris and 10 miles south of Senlis. It has a reputation as being a very private club that visitors cannot play without a member. Or as they say in the native tongue: Club privé exclusivement réservé aux membres. I have heard great things about Morfontaine. It was designed in 1927 by Tom Simpson. I am a great admirer of other courses that Simpson has had a hand in - namely Cruden Bay and Ballybunion, so I thought this would be a good one to pick and attempt to play sooner rather than later.

The clubhouse at Morfontaine


Finding Golf Club de Morfontaine is not an easy task. I was able to obtain a picture of the clubhouse, shown above, from GolfClubAtlas.com. Again, in the local venacular, there is pas de site web to go online and find out information about the club and no email address. The closest I have found is a picture of the course from satellite. Click to see the Google maps. The hybrid or satellite view works best. aerial image of Golf Club de Morfontaine. If you look carefully you will see 27 holes. Nine holes were created in 1910 and an additional 18 holes, the world ranked course, in 1927.

In any event, I was able to locate the club's phone number (0033 344 54 68 27) so I figured I would just phone them up and see if they would let me come out and play. Mind you, this is not a completely irrational thing to do. After all, even such esteemed European courses such as Muirfield and Royal County Down will take your call and respond to your email and explain their booking procedures. Since I don't speak French, I had a French speaking female associate call on my behalf and see if we could politely book a tee time. I wanted to approach them with the utmost respect, which we did, and was completely flexible as to the date and time I was available to play.

Well, let's just say her inquiries were met with what can best be described as a chilly reception. I'm not sure of the exact English translation of what they told her but it's the rough equivalent of something that I can't print here. We were somewhat put off as this stance is so much at odds with the founding tenets of the French Republic - liberté, égalité, fraternité. After all - all the world's golfers share a fraternité do they not?

Well, at least we know where we stand.

Not easily put off I thought I would enlist the help of the American Embassy in Paris. This one I could do myself since they speak English. Morfontaine has long had a tradition of offering the current US ambassador a membership so they could play golf in the spirit of good relations. I'm not sure whether this tradition continues to this day, but I thought it was worth a shot. The US Ambassador would not take my call and I was transferred to the American Citizen Services Office of the Consular section which provides information and assistance to U.S. citizens in France. While the gentleman that took my call didn't tell me to go 'F' myself directly, he made it clear that he could be of no assistance.

Having struck out on the first two attempts it confirmed that this one was indeed going to be difficult. How exactly does one go about finding a member of Morfontaine? Before pursuing that I have one or two other ideas to pursue to find a way on.

I will let you know how I make out...

Click here for my 2007 writeup after playing the course.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

For your information, the picture of the 3rd hole is not accurate. It is indeed the picture of the 3rd hole but of the 9 holes course and not the 18 holes one. Good luck on your quest !

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your site from Golfsmarter podcast. Have only read a few reviews so far but I commend your challenge and will enjoy reading the rest of your reviews. Living in France, I too would love to play Morfontaine. I have a couple of friends who are pros so maybe they could get me on.

Best of luck with your quest.

Untiedownable said...

morfontaine@wanadoo.fr

That is the email address of Morfontaine I found on the web...hope it will help you...all the best for your quest.

Anonymous said...

are you close to get an invitation ? I know people who have played there. In fact, some french pros can come and play sometimes on Mondays. I also know a member. Not really well.

Seattle said...

"...Ranked #47 in the world..."

If so few people can play the course how can the ranking be credible?

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John said...

I played here twice in 2009 and think it's vastly better than some higher ranked courses. In terms of places to play, it's the kind of place that you could play for the rest of your life and never be bored. Pure harmony with nature in stunning surroundings.

Benedict Hughes said...

I played both the 18 hole course and the 9 hole course last week. Everything about it was fantastic - the course was perfect, the ambiance in the clubhouse, the charm and courtesy of the staff, and the food and wine. I hope to visit again, one day.