Those of you following the blog this summer already know how enamored I was with North Berwick’s West Course and Gullane after getting to play them in the firmest, fastest conditions imaginable. My other golfing highlight of 2013 and beyond came soon after when lucky enough to visit the ultra-exclusive Morfontaine. And as we close out another incredible year in our sport, longtime readers know I try to make it an annual post to highlight a special place in the game.
owever, as architect Mike Clayton instructed and Oliver notes in his review, the first priority at Morfontaine is to play the Valliere course, a just-under 3000-yard nine in front of the homey clubhouse. Golf Digest listed the Valliere #3 on its best nine-hole courses outside the U.S., behind only Royal Worlington & Newmarket G.C. and another favorite of mine, Musselburgh Links.
Memorable, playable, fun and fascinating, Valliere features some of the most outrageous man-made greens in golf. But because Simpson had the chance to nurture this design, the boldly contoured putting surfaces work beautifully so that they are manageable for even the old timers or kids who are more likely to play here. The childlike imagination it took to build the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th greens is a sight to behold, but they are also more than worthy of architectural study: the holes are fun to play. A couple of breathers (1st, 6th, 7th) and the overall walkability of Valliere make it a firm reminder of what our sport all too consistently lacks: nine hole courses that can be played quickly with never a dull visit.