For more than thirty years, the Mont-de-Marsan golf course, the first section (690 members) of the Stade Montois Omnisport (34 sections – 7,000 members) has been living between sea and mountain. Jean Garaïalde designed this course in the pine forest, between a lake, the Roumat stream and a few doglegs offering some variety to the game.
By Claude Granveaud-Vallat
The airial of Pessourdat – the “pas des soldats” in Gascon – saw Napoleon’s army camped at the gates of Mont-de-Marsan, at the time of the battle of Orthez, a defeat of the imperial army during the Spanish war of independence in 1814.
In 1977, Jean-Marie de Portal – the club’s founding president – and a few friends, including Jean Van de Velde’s father – an industrialist from the Landes region – improvised a few holes, with the support of the Stade Montois, on municipal land.
By the end of the 1980s, under the impulse of Philippe Labeyrie, senator and mayor of Mont-de-Marsan, and the club leaders under the presidency of Alain Weyland, the decision was taken to transform the 9-hole course into an 18-hole course, which was opened in 1993 after a year of work.
On a perfectly designed flat course, host of the PGA Open since 2015, alternating between clearings and forest, the fairways curve between forests of pine, chestnut, birch and oak. The greens are relatively small and the bunkers well placed. Some doglegs, such as the par 4 of the 5th, require more precision than power, as it is difficult to cut them due to the height of the trees. The 64 hectare site, entirely fenced in since last winter, is now safe from the “pigs” who can no longer come and eat there, much to the relief of the gardeners and players.
The undergrowth are clean, while the 135-metre blue and white posts and the yellow and black flags are the emblematic colours of Mont de Marsan and the Stade Montois, as a symbol of the region’s identity.
In the amateur world, golf is today the first sports section of this club which knew its hours of glory in the 60s, thanks to rugby, Guy and André Boniface, Benoît Dauga Pierre Lacroix, Christian Darrouy, Max Godemet, Bernard Hiquet and many other illustrious “Wasps”.
Alternating short and technical holes with others as long as they are straight, offering beautiful grass fairways on sandy soil that easily drains rainwater, the flat layout – with the exception of a depression in play on 17 and 18 – is mischievous on its approaches, especially when the Roumat stream cuts through the fairways as on 3, 4 and 17. The 12th, a long par 5 with a green hidden by a dogleg left in play on the approach, confirms that it is necessary to play straight…
Pessourdat’s moment of bravery came at a crescendo on the last holes. From 15 to 18 around the pond, these four holes have often influenced the score and always leave memories… The pond is in play on the right of the approach to 15, before having to be flew over on the following par 3.
After a good start on the 17th, the approach is spectacular and the hundred metres to the green can seem long while three bunkers protect the green…
As if Jean Garaïalde had wanted to save the best for last, the tee shot on 18 deserves a good breath! Below the tee, the fairway of this par 5, wide at the fall of the drive, narrows between the cork oaks and the pines to the green.
When leaving “Le Moun” (Mont de Marsan in local Gascon…) one often wants to play it again, especially if one has just discovered it. We wish all the best to the numerous Golfystadors who will discover this beautiful course at the crossroads between the sea and the mountains, between the Ocean and the Pyrenees, between Bordeaux, Pau, Bayonne… “Here, the gentle way of life goes beyond the course, it can also be felt in the walls of our club-house, where the table easily reconciles players with their swing… ! “
Once seated in the shade of this beautiful Landes farmhouse, it is time to pay tribute to the child of the country, the one who always returns to recharge his batteries on these lands when he is visiting… Even if Jean Van de Velde has now moved to the Pacific coast of Mexico, “Petit Jeannot” remains a hero in these walls and the photos of his exploits bear witness to this fact well beyond a cursed Barry Burn
In this Gascony country where good food has an overflowing sense of the plate, the menu is generous, the dishes are tasty, the bill is reasonable and a smile is always in order in the Landes farmhouse and its magnificent terrace which is home to the club-house and the restaurant run by Laurie and Jona.
Enough to encourage you to take on the fairways again or, in a more touristic way, to discover the fortified districts of Mont-de-Marsan at the confluence of the Midou and the Douze, the medieval streets, the old city walls, the Lacataye dungeon – a 15th century building now transformed into a museum -, and perhaps end the day at the Guy and André Boniface stadium …. To support the Wasps! or maybe you would like to attend the Flamenco Festival or the famous and popular Fêtes de la Madeleine which brighten up the month of July in Mont de Marsan.
Route de Pessourdat
Tél. : 05 58 75 63 05
18 trous, par 71, 5742 meters.
Architect : Jean Garaialde (1993).