Le-Mesnil-le-Roi Golf Club, Yvelines (78), Paris. (1890s)

The club was founded 1896 and was the first “Golf de Paris” before it moved to La Boulie near Versailles.

The story goes that in 1896 a small group of sportsmen, namely Pierre Deschamps, Captain Essex Digby, Mr & Mrs L Diaz-Albertini, Paul Hottinguer, J de la Lombardière, the Duc d’Uzès and the Count Jacques de Portalès, decided to create the first golf course close to Paris. After some prospecting trips they decided to rent a meadow of about 40 acres located 20 miles west of the City at Le-Mesnil-le-Roi. A nine-hole course was quickly laid out which they named Société du Golf de Paris; the Marquis de Jancourt was elected as president.

A few years later G Hetley and Henry Cachard, an American lawyer, joined the club and soon convinced their fellow members that the place did not fit with the fame of the Capital. The search started again and in 1901 not one, but two places were found. It seems that it was difficult to choose between the two locations as there were as many players in favour of the first place as the second one. In the end two new clubs were created while the original one, at Le-Mesnil-le-Roi continued and was still in existence in 1902.

One of these two new clubs established its grounds in a place called La Boulie, near Versailles, slightly closer to the city of Paris than the original club. It soon became the high society golfing place and it was the golf club where the “smart set” could be seen. This club inherited the name “Société du Golf de Paris”. Pierre Deschamps was its first president and he later founded the “Union des Golfs de France” a precursor of the French Federation of Golf.

La Boulie is still very much in existence. We decided to include this short piece because of its importance in the history of golf in Paris.

The second site was at Le Pecq it was here that a club named Le Golf de l’Ermitage was created (see separate entry for its history).

Now, a little poser regarding Le-Mesnil-le-Roi Golf Club.

Mr L Diaz-Albertini was, along with, Le Vicomte de Janzé a founder in 1886 of the “Société de Sport de Puteaux” which was a very posh sport club particularly well known for its involvement with tennis. No reference to golf has been found for the club.

The mystery deepens when the following article came to light. It was written by Ben Nicholls and appeared in the Philadelphia Public Ledger on February 20th 1916:-

“In the year 1894, at the age of 17, I was called to France to lay out the first golf course in Paris, which was but a miniature affair on an island situated in the Seine. In connection with this work I became acquainted with the Viscomte De Janze, one of the oldest leaders of golf in the district of Paris and the man who is responsible for the excellent course of La Boulie, Chantilly, as well as for several others”

If Nicholls is not making a mistake, some sort of golf project could have started in Paris in 1894 – two years before Mesnil-le-Roi. After much research this is the only reference so far found for this early club.

If anyone can shed any light on this early course please get in touch through the “Contact Us” facility on the home page of the website.