Tuesday 24 October 2017

Chip in for a Nice golf trip?


Room with a view: Looking out from the clubhouse at Royal Mougins Golf Resort on the Cote d'Azur
Room with a view: Looking out from the clubhouse at Royal Mougins Golf Resort on the Cote d'Azur
The luxurious Mimozas resort

Barry Massey

The golf season here at home is well and truly over. Golfers are getting used to placing on fairways and lift, clean and drop in the rough as they splash their way through the mud to get their weekly fix.

It's also the time of the year when they try to win brownie points as they broach the subject of a week away with the lads - or dare I say it, the lassies - playing golf in sunnier climes.

So, where's it going to be this year? The Algarve is a great favourite with the Irish as indeed is the Atlantic coast of Portugal, the south of Spain and some even venture to faraway places like Thailand and the USA.

There's a new contender on the golf holiday menu and it's only just over a two-hour flight away. The resort of Cannes, just down the coast from Nice on the Cote d'Azur in the south of France, is making a play to woo the Irish golfers.

Famed for the glitz and glamour that goes with hosting the annual film festival, it has an array of wonderful courses waiting for golfers to tee it up.

The greatest sporting event on Earth - the Ryder Cup - is taking place in Paris in 2018 and the whole country is gearing up to make France a serious golfing destination.

You're probably thinking that a trip to Cannes is outside the normal golf trip budget but it can be done as reasonably or as expensively as you choose.

On our trip we stayed in the Mimozas Resort which is located about 20 minutes from the centre of Cannes. The hotel is Irish owned and Irish managed and has a very warm Irish welcome.

The apartments are one-, two- and three-bedroom and depending on your budget some of the apartments have a jacuzzi on their balcony.

All the rooms have magnificent views. On one side you have the beautiful lake with the mountains in the background and from the other you are overlooking the Old Course at Mandelieu.

The hotel has great bar facilities and a really reasonably priced restaurant with a menu that caters for all palates. There is an outdoor heated swimming pool and the beach is just a 10-minute walk away.

If you want to do some sightseeing or shopping there are electric bikes for hire and you can make your way to downtown Cannes with very little effort.

Later in the evening you can taxi back into town to sample the stylish Cannes nightlife.

Old Course was founded in 1891 by Grand Duke Michael of Russia and is the oldest course on the Cote d'Azur. Many dignitaries have graced its fairways but the club itself is most proud of its local hero, Victor Dubuisson, who played a starring role in Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team in 2014.

This is an old-style golf course with the tight fairways lined by 100-year-old umbrella pines.

The small greens are cut out of the fairways (not raised as most modern courses are). They are really nicely bunkered with well-hidden breaks.

After playing two holes you take a small raft-like ferry across the estuary to continue your round. You then cross back after hole number 12 to finish the last six. There is a strategically placed bar beside the ferry that can help with a little pick-me-up if you are struggling with your game.

For me, the tenth was the signature hole on the course. A slight dog-leg right measuring 384 metres with the pines lining both sides of the fairway and also the back of the green.

This is by no means a long golf course and is as flat as a pancake. While buggies are available, they are not required. The course offers a good challenge to every calibre of player.

With its beautiful clubhouse and location just five minutes from the Mimozas hotel it really is the perfect starting course for your golf holiday.

The round of golf was followed by a sports massage on our arrival back at our hotel. Highly recommended. There are several spa treatments on offer if you feel like pampering yourself.

The next day we made our way to Royal Mougins Golf Resort. Just 20 minutes from the Mimozas, it was built 23 years ago and on first sight it oozes that feeling of quality and luxury. The entrance foyer is spectacular as indeed are the changing rooms, and the service - from collecting your clubs from your car and loading them on to your buggy, to cleaning your clubs at the end of your round - is first-class.

The undulating magnificent fairways await and I couldn't wait to get going as soon as I stepped on the first tee. Now, this is a buggy course. Not because it's too hilly but the walks from greens to tees can be quite long.

Having made our way off the par 4 first we made our way to the second tee. The par three is aptly named Angel's Dive. You tee off from a great height to the green 168 metres below with water lurking on the left. A truly wonderful golf hole.

And there was more to follow... back-to-back par fives on three and four followed by another delicious par three and so on. The holes just seem to get better and better.

Another well named hole is the 17th, Le Miracle. Measuring just 117 metres it has a really punishing green. If you walk off with your par here you are ready for the 492-metre par five 18th. A great driving hole that requires two more accurately placed shots to get you to a huge green.

This really is a challenging golf course that's in pristine condition, with numerous water hazards, huge bunkers and great greens. It offers a completely different experience to the Old Course, and shows how golf course design has changed over the last 25 years. There are a large number of courses to choose from depending on the length of your stay. Although, I didn't get to play it, Golf de Saint Donat comes highly recommended and again is only a short drive from the Mimozas Hotel.

Go on, spoil yourself. Sure you might even meet a movie star.

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