top of page

Golf de Biarritz, Biarritz, France (5,907 Yards/Par 69) early days and Arnaud Massy

Originally built by the members and open for play in 1888,

Tom and Willie Dunn were asked to improve the course a year later.

The 13th with forecaddy keeping watch.


From another angle. How many gutty balls were lost here?

At 90 meters carry length the cliff hole may have only been a niblick (7 iron, the most lofted club in the bag at this time), but it was difficult to keep the ball on the green, where it would often roll over the other side and find its way at the bottom again.

The warmer climate of the French Riviera became a popular destination for British travelers in the middle of the 19th century. Until then the natural beauty and comfortable all-year-round warmth had been a secret enjoyed mostly only by the local inhabitants. Biarritz became more renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleanlll) built a palace on the beach (now the Hotel Du Palais). European royalty, including British monarchs Queen Victoria and King Edward llV and the Spanish king Alfonso Xlll, were frequent visitors. It all started to get really "hot" when the Belle Epoque period arrived at the turn of the 20th century. Casinos and dance halls would add to the gaiety of an already booming town.


Where there are British ex-pats there will be a golf course. Just as important were good facilities, and that other sports were available. Tennis courts, a cricket field plus a lawn for croquet were included on the club premises.


A ladies nine hole course would help keep the "lawful blankets" happy.

A nine-hole golf course was built especially for the ladies to accommodate the growing desire the genteel sex had acquired for outdoor sports.

Playing down the cliff

The original course used sandy areas and could claim a links connection, but unfortunately, the holes below the upper part of the course were to disappear not long after the turn of the century.

Arnaud Massy, Open champion of 1907

The course was home to Arnaud Massy. Born there in 1877 as the son of a sheep farmer, Massy soon found his way onto the course through the caddy ranks.

Massy had access to many of the top players from the British Isles, who visited Biarritz in the winter months to keep their games sharp for the coming new season.

Massy would win the championship in 1907 and was the first player from overseas to be called the Open Champion.

The course may have been short, but it required a lot of shot skills to survive the tricky area known as

the chasm.

Teeing off, a visiting Professional.

The famous chasm hole played over the chasm,

and at the time what gave the course its reputation. Originally the tee shot was played over a cliff to a green perched on another cliff, (hence the name chasm hole) with a long club. At the time this photo was taken the hole had become much shorter.

Biarritz remains one of the hotspots on the French Riviera for tourists today. Be it casinos, sport, or just pure and simple sunbathing.

There are also a handful of other golf courses to visit and enjoy now. I would still recommend a trip to the oldest to feel the atmosphere of days gone by.

Today surfing has become one of its main past times, with the Atlantic ocean and warm winds blowing over the

Bay of Biscay.

Biarritz 1900- Golf course is behind the lighthouse

The sandy beaches and warm air currents off the Atlantic sea make Biarritz a favourite for tourists.

A nice finish

52 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page