What can you say about a course that you know inside out? A course that, despite knowing it better than a fat kid knows the inside of a crisp packet, still manages to surprise you, sneak up and destroy your card in the span of a hole.
When I’m playing a round at another course and someone asks what Chamonix is like, I’ll describe it as ‘a bit of a jerk of a course’. It’s well-guarded, tricky, and punishing with small, elevated greens, it has a few card-killer holes (that when you walk on to the tee, you do a little Hail Mary and pray for leniency) and water hazards on 13 of its holes. That’s not everything you need to know but it’s a good start if you’re coming to play.
The second ever course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1934, this course is trademark TJS — well-guarded greens, ‘no risk, no reward’ strategy and, much like wearing a bikini on the beach – sand where you want it least. It’s strategic and while it may look pretty, it’s not exactly flattering ‘holiday golf’. Even if you’re on your game, you’ll struggle to get around Cham with your 36 stableford points intact.
Sometimes I think of Chamonix Golf as a bit of a card-playing, crooked street thief. The mountain view with the glacier pouring into town is so incredible it can distract you from truly concentrating on your game and before you know it you’ve ineptly ‘donated’ your ball to one of the umpteen rivers that cross the fairways. Or worse, you’re so enamored by the view that you don’t care you’ve basically just paid an average of 1.25€ per shot on this fairly pricey and difficult course.
All that being said, it’s not a long course. At 6188m/6767yds (though really it’s 5617m/6142yds from the yellow tees & 4654m/5089yds from red tees), long-hitters will have an advantage, but only if they can keep it down the middle. And some holes are such that even a long, fairly straight drive will put you in trouble. If your long game ‘isn’t’, you could be trying to hit anything from a 6-iron to a 3-wood into an elevated 16m deep green, praying it stops before it rolls into a dodgy bunker with inconsistent sand (it’s not all perfect here).
Yet we still go back for more. Like everything in Chamonix, from the world-class high-level mountaineering, mountain biking, climbing, and snow sports, if you can excel here, you’ll be well-equipped to climb, ride, ski or golf most anywhere else. Or so I keep telling myself.
TOP TIP: Bring lots of balls.