Perched on a mountain plateau high above Grasse, the Claux Amic golf club has one of the best sites of the Riviera courses. It winds its way through a superb natural backdrop of oak and pine forest, blazing here and there with yellow when the broom is in bloom, with stunning views of sea and mountain.
There are plenty of reasons why this highly individual course has long been one of my top choices for a day of chasing the little white ball. The welcome from the staff is warm without fail, names and faces of even occasional visitors remembered.
What wasn’t so welcoming was the sometimes impenetrable rough that bordered the forest-lined fairways. Often a shot that was only slightly off-line would lead to a lost ball, an unfair level of punishment in the eyes of many golfers.
That this is now less of a problem is due to a radical plan launched five years ago.
Golf Director Isabelle Leclercq has been in post at the reborn club since May of last year, after moving from her job as Golf Operations Manager at Royal Mougins. She takes up the story of how the club, just a ten-minute drive from Grasse, is changing: “It was decided five years ago that Claux Amic should become a golfing ‘domaine’ where visiting players could have everything at hand for a perfect golfing break.
“They would stay in a four-star hotel, and eat, sleep and play in what effectively would be a golf resort.”
The course was closed for more than a year while the bulldozers moved in to level the original clubhouse. At this point the opportunity was taken to make improvements to some of the holes. The 18th was lengthened, and with its new green and bunkering, it is now an exceptional long and testing par-5 finishing hole. The 1st was turned into a more approachable, long par-4 thanks to some judicious earth moving. Other developments continue, notably to the par-3 3rd hole with its spectacular backdrop of the Lerins islands set in a sparkling sea.
A sleek new clubhouse (pictured above) was the first building to grace the new-look Claux Amic. At some point in 2015 the hotel (visualised below) will come on stream and the first guests will arrive to enjoy a superb mountain location, a spa and swimming pool on hand to provide essential relaxation at the end of a hard golfing day.
The upgraded practice facility is home to the Essentiel Golf Academy, under the direction of François Morel and backed by TaylorMade. Here one of the most useful ways for getting a golfing boost is to take a “stage” – a teaching package which includes two 50-minute individual lessons, two hours taking the practice out on to the course itself accompanied by a pro, plus four group sessions on mastering the short game.
François and his team have at their disposal the latest high-tech aids for analysing the good and bad in every manner of swing.
The more work a golfer puts in to pitching, chipping and putting at Claux Amic, the better. The greens here are a challenge for the most experienced player. They are normally very fast and some are fiendishly hard to read; I’ve seen many a baffled expression from visitors who find themselves further away from the hole on their second putt than they were for the first.
Green fees at Claux Amic have long represented good value for money, ranging between €55 and €75 depending on the season. A carnet of 12 green fees brings the cost of play down further.
Isabelle Leclerq is determined to keep the affordability and quality of the golf at Grasse to the fore. Also on the agenda is the development of the competitions at the club.
See www.claux-amic.com for all the latest info on the enjoyable and accessible golf course.