It was extremely difficult, even painful to leave Aloxe Corton. A petite, charming village on the Côte de Nuits, the wine-producing communes in Burgundy, France known for elegant and affordable reds, this town near Beaune boasts five exceptional vintners offering daily tastings.
But another delight was on the horizon—a stay at the Hôtel Golf Château de Chailly, a 16th Century castle with an 18-hole championship golf course.
Opened in 1990, amid natural streams, lakes and a glorious variety of century-old trees, this 6,737-yard, parkland course 30 miles from Dijon has several challenging water-riddled holes that demand pinpoint accuracy. Over a dozen, well-bunkered, elongated and sloped greens exponentially increase the tract’s difficulty.
Yet as PGA member/putting teacher Stephane “Less Drama, More Birdies” Barras insists, “Chailly is tough but not a severe headache. The elevated greens force players to make good approach shots, to have a keen short game for there are several huge, very deep bunkers. Chailly is still very user-friendly and that makes it Burgundy’s best.”
Indicative of this “friendly” character, the 392-yard dogleg 1st offers an easily-accessible landing area. Few trees frustrate play, yet the 186-yard or so shot to the green must avoid three cavernous bunkers sitting on sloped mounds. Number One is very demanding.
The par-3 2nd requiring a 185 yard carry over a lake is equally testy, for again large bunkers again dash many dreams.
Water adjoins the fairway on the 409-yard 3rd, a slight dogleg left. But the 484-yard, par 5 4th is an even more diabolical test, featuring a stream running through the tight fairway alarmingly close to the elevated greens. Clusters of trees lining both sides of the fairway further make par a ‘Herculean’ task.
More trouble abounds on the sharp dogleg, 379-yard 5th. Beware the large bunker about 224 yards out on the right when teeing off, and every shot to the minuscule green must somehow avoid four menacingly vast greens.
On the 397-yard “Trou” 6th, as the course guide advises, “aim for the left side of the fairway, watch out for the tree in the middle of the fairway, and attack on the right,” knowing two bunkers are ready to gobble up slightly off to the left approach shots.
The par-3 7th features gigantic and deep bunkers by the plateau green, while there’s even more sand to contend with (6 bunkers) on the 430-yard 8th.
The brutish 535-yard par 5 9th is even more bedeviling. A dogleg right past 5 fairway bunker, tee shots must be played to the left to avoid pockets of trees and to ensure approaching the green without bringing a lake on the right into play.
A quick rest at the small cafe is then in order. Have a drink and meet the locals. Yet be prepared. The 515-yard 10th is anything but relaxing.
Another par-5 dogleg bordered by a lake, this exasperating test has a stream coursing through the fairway about 120 yards from the green that is protected by 4 bunkers. Steer clear of the perilous one on the left, a monster about 60 yards long and deep.
Number 12, a 378-yard dogleg left, crisscrossed by a stone wall a la Pete Dye, and several water hazards, poses more trouble. Or great aggravation. Play to the left and pray.
The 536-yard 13th presents another vexing stream in front of the green which must be approached from the bunker free right side—and a winding rivulet also complicates play on the short 14th, a 311-yard dogleg right with 4 ominous green side bunkers.
Equally foreboding, the par 3 15th has six sprawling bunkers—OMG—very mean and challenging.
But 17 and 18 are perhaps the most problematic holes on the course, as lakes and numerous bunkers compel all sorts of surgically-precise shots, especially the approach to the 18th green which rises dramatically rises above a series of immense bunkers.
Chailly may have several player-friendly par-5’s reachable in two. And as “Less Drama, More Birdies” Barras may say, “the course is a fair test for even average players.”
But due to all the water and sand, certain remedies will be necessary at the proverbial 19th hole—a fine glass of Burgundy, an hour in the hotel’s sumptuous spa, and a night in one of its’ luxurious suites.