There has been widespread praise for the improvements Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, host venue for the Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open since 2000, has made in the past 14 years, with many saying the course is in the best condition they have ever seen.
The northern France venue, a short trip from southern England via ferry or Eurotunnel, has been steadily improving as a championship course since the first time it hosted the Challenge Tour in 2000, before being upgraded to a dual-ranking event from 2003 to 2013.
With the help of European Tour and Challenge Tour agronomers, the greenkeeping staff have been working hard to make the course a more challenging and enjoyable lay-out, and those efforts have borne fruit with every passing season.
The weather has been kind this week for the Challenge Tour’s ninth event of the season and the players have been wholesome in their praise of the venue.
“We have been really lucky with the weather this year because normally it rains a lot,” said first round leader Julien Guerrier. “I think it’s the best week we’ve had here in a long time. The course is in great condition.
“You need to be patient out there. Just aim for the middle of the greens because you will have some difficult shots in. It depends on the weather. If the wind is blowing it’s a completely different course. Today the wind blew a little bit but it’s perfect weather for here.”
Daniel Gaunt of England, meanwhile, is playing in Saint Omer for the fifth time and he is hugely impressed by the improvements the course has made in recent years.
“The course is probably the best I've ever seen it since I've been coming here,” he said. “The weather has been perfect and it makes a bit of a change, because often it has been windy and rainy.
“It’s a little softer and playing a little longer. Holes like 15 and 18 - where you have to hit a good drive now and you’re going in with four or five irons, whereas a couple of years ago we were hitting wedge into the last. You can go at the flags but you have to pick which ones you go for.”
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