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Hyères - Les Palmiers Golf Club, Var (83).

Founded 1894.

In 1894 British visitors decided to rent a large but marshy portion of land called le Pré Durandel from the Count David Beauregard to lay out a small practice course. The Hyères Golf Club was born. This initial course was short lived and was abandoned after just one year. A more suitable location was found in a pretty valley and a six-hole parkland course was laid out. In 1899 the course was extended to 12-holes, it reached its full complement of 18-holes in 1906, thanks mainly to Mr Zick, owner of the Golf Hotel, and Mr Logan, an expert in grass cultivation – who later helped at Nice Golf Club.

One of the most characteristic peculiarities of the second course was the erection of hurdles, replacing the usual bunkers. The landlord was keeping horses on the course during the summer season and he was fearful that they could break a leg if trapped in a bunker. When the course was extended modern bunkers were constructed.

In 1907 and possibly until WW1, W Freemantle was the local professional (spending his summer time in Engadine, Switzerland).

In March 1907, after the Grand Match in Cannes – and Massy’s victories – and before returning to Great Britain, a tournament was organised in Hyères. The Scotsman newspaper reported; “Alex Herd and James Braid the Scots regained some of their prestige lost in Cannes. Jones was again well to the front, and so, too, was (Ted) Ray, who, with the wooden clubs seems to be as powerful as ever”.

The following year another tournament was played at the Hyères Golf Club as a prelude to the Tatler Cup (see Costebelle entry). It must be noted that this club was often referred to as “Hyères Les Palmiers” in order to avoid any confusion with the other club in Hyères; Costebelle.

 

Hyères Les Palmiers Golf Club, Var. Massy on the green.

The above picture of the Hyère-les-Palmiers course shows A Massy suggesting a putting line to Gassiat, probably in 1908.

 

According to A H Crosfield, writing in the Horton & Smith – The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf (1909) – “One of the best holes is the seventh,  a two shot hole well guarded part of the way by woodland, and requiring a fine second shot to achieve a par 4. Another noticeable hole is the eighth, which is much the shape of a bottle, the tee being in place of the cork, and fifty yards of the tee shot travelling down a narrow opening with woods on either side – as it were the neck of the bottle. Then the hole opens out, and the putting green, which can be reached by a full driving-iron shot, is located on the end of a narrow bit of tableland”

Following the appointment of Geo H Logan as secretary the course was re-designed, the new 18-holes measured about 4,700 yards. The course was considered as “not particularly difficult” there were no bunkers and fences were the only notable hazards. In 1910 the club had a membership of 200.

The following is taken from Arnaud Massy's 1911 book "Le Golf" - "It was in 1894 that the golf course was created by a group of English visitors, forming a committee which rented from Count David-Beauregard a vast piece of land called Pré-Durandel. In 1906 the club passed into the hands of  a sole owner who brought some fortunate modifications to the course. At the beginning the course had only 9-holes because of the cramped size of the land but it now has 18-holes. In addition, the course was revised in order to avoid the old cross-overs, many of which were really dangerous. The links are situated in a valley, protected by wooded hills from winds from the north, east and west. The two longest holes are of 450 and 500 metres and each hole has its well-recognisable appearance. W Freemantle is the professional at Hyères and has been there for several years.

The links are 5 minutes from the Hyéres Hotel and about 10 minutes from the town itself. Cars also provide a service between the golf course and the town.  

The Committee comprises; Hon. President, the Préfet of Var; Honorary Members - the Mayor of Hyéres, Colonel Chenagon. Lieutenant-Colonel Cortial, Dr Vidal, M Paget (notaire); President, Count David-Beauregard; Vice-President, Pierre Deschamps (Paris); Captain, P L Waterlow; Committee - Colonel Downie, Colonel Langdon, H A E Scott, Dr R Stanley Taylor, H W Vardon, F B Watson."

After WW1 the course was again redesigned with bunkers being added. Bernard Darwin, who played the course in the 1920s, considered the ninth hole as one of the most difficult two shot holes in the world.

 

Hyères Les Palmiers Golf Club, Var. Course layout.

Course layout 1930.

 

Hyères Les Palmiers Golf Club, Var. Le Golf-Hotel.

Hyères-les-Palmiers – Le Golf-Hotel card posted in the 1920s. John Llewellyn Collection.

 

Hyères Les Palmiers Golf Club, Var. The Hotel and clubhouse.

A view from the course showing the Hotel and golf clubhouse.

 

The Les Palmiers club was the only one on the Riviera were golf was played all year round, all other courses closed during the summer season.