On Thursday 22nd of April I (Jan) began a trip around the French region Languedoc-Roussillon and my first visit was at Golf de Nimes-Vacquerolles. The course is situated just outside Nimes and approximately 40km northeast of Montpellier. The course is placed in a stunning scenery in a small valley where there are housing on one side and beautiful wilderness on the other. When you arrive at the club you are greeted by some very friendly and forthcoming people and they are all multilingual. They speak French, English and Swedish and that certainly has its advantages. It is not all that easy to find the club as you have to drive through an ordinary area with lots of private houses on the way to the course. But when you find it, it is all worth the effort. Anyway, the day of my visit the weather was just fine. The wind was light - just enough to make it necessary to take a club extra when playing in the headwind. The temperature was 14-16 degrees and it was actually quite comfortable. I was staying in one off the clubs own apartments and it was of a good standard.
The training facilities were quite all right and have a good size. The driving range is wide and absolutely long - even for the long hitters. There are a large number of mats in a sensible quality. There is also the possibility to hit your practice balls from the grass but this is not of the same quality. There are not a lot of distance markers and even though there were two chipping nets we could only use one of them. The chipping green is of a good quality and size and the same goes for the matching practice bunker. The putting green is huge and you can practice all kinds of putts here. The green has the same good quality as the greens on the course, not a disadvantage...
The 1st hole is a good little test from the start. It is a small par 5 (557y/509m) with a dogleg to the left some (220y/200m) from the tee. It is important that you don't push yourself too hard from the start with your drive - give yourself a small chance to get started the right way. If you are not a long hitter, it will be wise to hit the ball down the middle of the fairway and just short off the bunker, which is placed as "outrun" in the dogleg some (240-250y/220-230m) from the tee. If you don't hit the ball that far, you won't have any problems. In stead you ought to play the hole so you will be left with two putts for your two points. The long hitters can cut across the dogleg but don't force your self too much to do so. It is not worth it and the green it is not recommendable to go for in two. The second shot is just a lay up and here you must watch out for the small stream that runs across some (160-190y/145-175m) from the green. It is much better to be in the left side rather than the right as there are some bushes and the stream that runs along the fairway to the green. Two bunkers in the front one on the left and one on the right side protect this, so it is not the best idea to try to run the ball onto the green. Furthermore the rough all the way around the green is tough and I can't recommend trying and playing from this. Even if you have reached the green in three this is not the same as a certain birdie. The greens on this course are quite sloped, but they are on the other hand not so hard to read, so a net par or birdie should be within reach.
The 3rd hole is a small par 4 and at the same time it is a really good hole that demands precision (346y/316m) with a 45 degrees dogleg to the right. From the tee there is only (197y/180m) to the beginning of the dogleg and some (252y/230m) to the fairway outrun. Some (220-240y/200-220m) from the tee a couple of bunkers are placed in the right side of the fairway and they can easily give you some trouble. On the tee I was wondering if I should hit a 3 iron along the bunkers and then be faced with some (110y/100m) to the green or I should hit a 3wood and cross the dogleg just right of the bunkers, leaving me with (55-60y/50m) to the green. I chose to hit the 3 iron leaving me with a full swing with a pitching wedge to the green. The second shot for most golfers is a short iron to the green but be careful, this is where the difficulties lies. Just short off the green a small stream crosses the fairway and it can easily come in play and it is certainly not the rough around the stream that you want to be in. Behind the green on the left side a very tricky bunker is placed and this is not easy to play from. When you have reached the green your trouble ends, as it is quite easy to putt. It should be possible to leave the green with a birdie or a par on the scorecard.
The 7th hole is a funny par 3 (167y/153m) and very much downhill. The difference in level will force you to choose an iron or two less than usual. That could turn out to be a disadvantage if you have a headwind as you will have trouble keeping the ball down. As you tee off it will look like you're playing down an alley of trees, but as you are standing on a top - quite high - the trees will not come into play - unless of course you hit a crooked ball. Just short and just in front of green they have placed a quite large bunker, which will prevent you from wheeling our ball in, if you should hit a little short. What is hard here is length control!! Normally I would hit a 6 iron - perhaps a hard 7 on this distance - but because of the difference in levels I chose to use a 8 iron - and even with that I was unsure if I could get to the green! My problem was that I was afraid a 7 iron would take me over the green. It looked like there were all sorts of trouble behind the green, so I chose to use my 8 iron and hit it really hard. It turned out to be a good disposition even though I nearly overran the green. A good, hard 9 iron would probably have been the right choice. Well on green your troubles are not over yet. The green is very hilly and has some nasty which can give you grey hairs on your head. A par is a very satisfying score on this difficult par 3.
The 14th hole is a super delicious par 4 (390y/357m) and it runs slightly downhill from the tee towards the fairway. The tee shot is quite difficult with a whole lot of potential trouble on the way. Some (120y/110m) from the tee a small stream flows and it curves across the fairway to some (185y/170m) from the tee. You can easily play around it but as we all know, water has a way of attracting our balls. Some (213y/195m) from the tee the first bunker is placed on the right side and the second one catches the long hitters as this one is placed some (250-260y/230-240m) from the tee. On the left side there is of course also placed a bunker some (225-230y/205-210m) from the tee so if you think you can just play along the left side of the fairway - think again. Enjoy your tee shot. If you should be lucky or good enough to hit the fairway with your drive you will now be faced with a just as difficult second shot to the green, which is covered with bunkers. The second shot can be anything from a long iron to a pitching wedge. But you really don't have to think about that. If you play the hole with a little common sense and uses your extra strokes you can avoid the difficulties around the green. Anyway, the green is guarded by three large bunkers, which all look very inviting but probably are not at all fun to play from. The club has been nasty enough to place two bunkers in front of the green - one on each side - to make it hard for you to just roll the ball on the green. Furthermore they have been kind enough to place a bunker just behind the green on the right so if you should hit the ball too far, it will be ready for you. On the left side there is a big tree, which can be in play if the pin is placed on this side of the green. Behind the green and on both sides is heavy rough, that will punish you very hard if you don't hit the green. If you have reached the green in two shots you now have a really good birdie opportunity or a par, which is a very good score on this hole. You need to be on your toes though, while the green is a bit tricky.
The 18th hole is a superb finishing hole with a lot of challenges. It is a par 4 (386y/353m) with a slight dogleg to the right and a little bit downhill. On the tee you need to decide if you want to hit your driver or if you should choose to hit a long iron or a wood instead. The reason to this decision-making is that there are different challenges along the way in the drive. If you can hit your driver (230y/210m) there is a bunker on each side of the fairway to snatch your ball. If you can fly these bunkers you will meet a stream some (270-275y/245-250m) from the tee and that is no good either. You can choose to do what I did! Hit an iron or wood, which plays short of the bunkers. (I still hit my 3 iron in the bunker, big mistake). The second shot also offers some trouble. There are two bunkers that protect the green so it is not possible to run the ball onto it. It forces you to fly the ball on the green. If you should hit the ball too far there is of course also a big bunker in the back of the green in the middle. Have you reached the green, which in fact is one of the largest on the course, you will face a big putting challenge because of the slopes on the green. You just might face a really difficult putt on these slopes. If you should run of with a par this is absolutely a good finish to a very exiting round on a superb and challenging course.
This course is very scenic and it is well placed in a beautiful valley. A stream that passes through several holes crosses the course. It is in play more than once. Furthermore the bunkers are well placed and are often in play both on the fairways and by the greens. A funny detail is that between the first and second fairway lives a kind of sheep that is almost extinct. A few years ago the club owner got a few sheep from a friend and they have grown quite fond of each other and the golf course and they are now a little family (the sheep that is). Anyway, when you have finish a hard and exhausting round you might want a bite to eat and here the French cuisine offers you many fine specialities. I recommend you to try it. As you all know it is also possible to enjoy a little something with the food and the French are capable to deliver this at sensible prices. The pro shop has a good size and it is equipped with everything a golfer needs at reasonable prices. The locker rooms are good and you easily feel a little bit at home here. It is also possible to stay next to the golf course in some very nice apartments at an absolute sensible price.