Nantes Golf Club, Loire-Atlantique (44.) (1921 – 1969)

Founded in 1921 the club had three locations before it moved to its current course in 1969.

On November 8, 1921, Francis Merlant together with a group of friends asked the mayor of Nantes for  authorisation to create a provisional golf facility on the municipally owned ground of Petit-Port (a horse racecourse) in order to practice the game of Golf. "The arrangements consist in the building of small benches of 2 square meters in size and 50 centimetres in height and with holes 25cm deep and 20cm in diameter just in the centre of the grass squares."



1921; 9-hole course at La Patouillerie.

In 1921 Francis Merlant and his friends gathered together to establish the "Club de Golf de Nantes" composed of Messrs de la Bruère (president), Kerr (vice-president) , Pilon de Loynes (vice-president), Merlant (secretary), Pergeline, Laraison, and Georget. They signed a 3-year lease, December 24, 1921 with the Aguesse family, owner of a land near Chêne-Vert. The terrain was limited by a training track of horses between le Chemin du Pont du Cens and le Chemin de la Cravate, in Nantes community, more exactly La Patouillerie. This first officially inaugurated course was a nine-hole course of 1,886-meter with a bogey score of 35. A cottage was built which then became the clubhouse.



1924; 9-hole course at Noëlles.

By 1922, the Club de Golf de Nantes had 30 members and it was time to look for a site more appropriate site to take into account the growing membership. On January 29th 1924, a group of friends made up of industrialists and merchants from Nantes, including the names of Lefèvre-Utile, Amieux, Mallinson, Pilon de Loynes, Laraison, Marx, Allain des Beauvais, Marc and Yves Piron, La Bruère , Georget, Cossé, Pergeline set up a real estate company (SCI) and acquired the farm "Ferme des Basses Naudières", better known under the name "Ferme des Noëlles", which was located in Saint Herblain, with an area of 12 hectares, belonging to Mr.Chiron.

In the wake of this SCI also acquired the Ferme des Tillay farm, which was owned by the Count de la Gournerie, an area of 7 hectares. The total investment amounted to 435,000 francs, of which 250,000 for the purchase of the land, 125,000 for the development costs and 60,000 for the work of the pavilion which was to serve as a clubhouse and which is still there today next to the bus stop "Noëlles".

The course remained as a nine-hole Par 35 of 2,660 metres laid out over 14ha at Saint Herblain near the Route de Vannes.


Nantes Golf Club, Loire-Atlantique. Golfers on the fourth green.

The green on the 350m 4th green on the Noëlles course.


In 1932, the golf club hat to cease operation due to financial difficulties. The Stade Nantais Université Club (SNUC), the city's flagship club, through its president, Pascal Laporte, signed a new lease contract with the real estate company, created a golf section, and undertook work to improve the golf course, especially laying drainages to allow the use of the course in winter and in summer. Thus, the number of adherent members practicing the golf passed from 82 to 140 in 1933.

As elsewhere in continental Europe difficult times loomed for golf as a sporting activity due to the war and the German occupation which followed. Golf balls became a rare item and the supply of golf clubs had stopped. Nevertheless, the Noëlles golf course was maintained until March 1944.

On this date, the Germans settled on the golf course digging a huge anti-tank trench and carrying out deforestation work to protect the Atlantic wall. Thus, all the trees covering half of the course disappeared. The removal of the hedges disfigured the course. In the place of the charming and verdant countryside where it once stood, the golf course now found itself in a banal suburb and the future of the course looked bleak. The land would be unusable for golf until the Liberation.

In 1950, the 9-hole course had a scratch score of 36 playing over 2,995 yards. Membership was 140, the amateur course record stood at 34, whereas the professional course record stood at 33 according to the 1950 Continental Golf Yearbook published by Editions Paris-Vendôme.

The golf course was laid out on a plateau including holes No. 1, 4, 5 and 9 as well as in the small Vallée de la Chézine, a small river that gives a lot of personality to the course. Hole No. 3 (160m), laid out behind the loop of the Chézine River is certainly one of the most beautiful short holes (in France, during that time). The greens are well defended, certain ones have difficult approach shots, and the true golfer will thoroughly enjoy the course according to “Les Golf de France 1960” also published by Editions Paris Vendôme

However, the club continued to survive, not without difficulties, until 1964, when the members of real estate company SCI decided to sell the land at Noëlles. Thus the city of Saint Herblain, in full demographic development, found an excellent opportunity for the construction of 508 dwellings.



Finally, in 1967, the choice is made for a course of more than 50 hectares in Vigneux de Bretagne, 20 km away from the centre of Nantes. English architect of Dutch origin, Frank Pennink was commissioned to design an 18-hole golf course at Vigneux de Bretagne. The course was constructed in 1969 and opened in 1970 (according to the 1971 Golfers Handbook) on a terrain of 57 hectares on a hilly site traversed by the river of Cens. The holes are laid out around the historic castle of Buron, where the Golf Club de Nantes is still playing the game today.

Christoph Meister.

November 2018.