Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime (06). (1909 - WW2)

The club was founded in 1909 when a Dr Campbell and Mr J L Churchman arranged to have an 18-hole course laid out.

The course was located in the small town of Sospel. The course could be reached by electric tram, which was 15 miles from Menton, a journey that took over 40 minutes. It took even longer by car as the tram took advantage of a tunnel. (It seems a bit of a treck for a game of golf but Sospel had a significant advantage; water/spas were abundant.)

Below a report on the course from January 1911.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Report on the course from January 1911.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Report on the course from January 1911.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Report on the course from January 1911.AC


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Report on the course from January 1911.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Report on the course from January 1911.

From the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday 21st January 1911. Images © Illustrated London News Group.


Extract from Arnaud Massy's 1911 book "Le Golf" -  "The golf course is located at Sospel. It comprises 18-holes and is certainly one of the most beautiful in France. It offers only one drawback in that it is quite distant from the city as Sospel is around 15 kilometres from Menton. However, a bus service allows players to easily practise their favourite sport. Secretary M C L Levilly."

In 1913 Bernard Darwin wrote a brilliant piece for the Times on Sospel. It was intended to published a book the following year on Darwin's findings on courses in The Riviera but it never happened. Following is an extract from the article.

“Sospel has beyond question the best course in the Riviera; it is also the most delicious and engaging spot in which I have ever played golf. The course is in a little mountain valley at the back of beyond and in the midst of the Alpes Maratime. Is stands 1,000 ft above sea level, and in order to get there you must ascend to a height of over 3,000 ft before dropping down again into the valley. That which may be called the official method of getting there is by a tramway from Mentone, which curdles your blood for something like an hour as it runs by the edge of precipices or along tall, slender viaducts.

Merits of the course – The valley looks so small, the mountains so close, that at first sight it would appear impossible that there should be 18-holes, but there are; and longer ones than anywhere else in the Riviera. Here there is more than pitching to be done; it is a matter of honest brassey shots and cleek shots, and what heavenly lies to play them from! The foot sinks gratefully into the soft, mossy turf. There are some fine hazards, noticeably a river, some trees, a stone wall or two; and there are a few – very few – artificial sand bunkers. There are admirable natural undulations that very often no bunker is needed. The grassy hog’s back will turn away the slightly erring ball from the line and lose the player a stroke as remorselessly as any bunker will do.

The holes that I recollect most vividly, however, have certainly something more than grassy slopes. The very first tee shot has to be struck with an arrow-like straightness between a stone wall on one side and a tall chalet on the other. Then the sixth – if I am not shaky over my numbers – is a fine one-shot hole where the player tees the midst of a dry watercourse – the old course of the Bevera – and plays over a wilderness of boulders. The eighth, again, has a lovely tee shot over a stony stream, with trees and rough to right and left; and the ninth demands a skilful pitch over a wall on to a pretty terrace. But it is really futile to describe this course even though I must put in a good word for the 16th. With as fine a tee shot over the Bevera as you can imagine, you carry as much river as you ever dare in order to hit a full cleek shot home over another stone wall. Just because I have never seen another course in the least like it, it ought to be easy to describe, and I find it almost wholly impossible.  I only know that I am pining to go back – by the road from Mentone – and stay there and play all day long in that adorable valley.”


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Course guide.

Golf course guide.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Course layout.

Above is the layout of the Sospel course.


The eighteen-hole course was laid out at some 1,000 feet above sea level. Most of the holes were between 300 and 350 yards. It appears that there were few bunkers to contend with but the second hole had a giant road bunker, trapping the ball after a poor drive.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Restaurant and course.

Golf Restaurant and course. (John Llewellyn Collection)


During the 1920’s and 1930’s local people in Sospel recall that this is where Winston Churchill used to come and play golf, alongside many other members of the rich and elite of Europe.

Below is a picture of the teams representing Monte Carlo and Menton in a match played at Sospel in April 1928.


Menton Golf Club, Sospel, Alpes-Maritime. Teams representing Menton and Monte Carlo in a match in April 1928.

From The Bystander Wednesday 18th April 1928. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Hotel and course.

Golf Hotel and course.


The clubhouse was an old farm house which had several bedrooms reserved for golfers.

The club disappeared just prior to WW2.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Golf Restaurant.

The “Golf Restaurant”.


Menton/Sospel Golf Club, Alpes-Maritime. Golf Hotel.

The Golf Hotel.