NORMANDY, France -- History and scenery converge to make the La Mer Course at Omaha Beach Golf Club a must play for any American golfer visiting France.
Known in English as the Seaside Course, the first hole introduces the striking water views and the militaristic overtones that have become staples of the region. A sign dedicates the opening par 5 to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. A sign on every hole thereafter honors a significant leader from World War II.
The English Channel forms a pleasing backdrop behind the first green. The par-3 second, par-5 fifth and par-4 sixth green all offer the same camera-worthy scenery.
The sixth green is where it all climaxes into one giant history lesson. The green of this beautiful par 4 is located near the cliffs made famous by "Operation Overload" on D-Day, June 6, 1944. To the left of the green is a war memorial dedicated to the 47 Royal Marine Commando and an hidden, underground German bunker made of thick concrete. The club doesn't necessarily condone stopping to wander through its tiny rooms and reading the plaque above it, but many groups do, letting others play through.
A narrow gunner window in the bunker overlooks the manmade harbor and fishing boats anchored in Port-En-Bessin, which proved to be a key port in the Allied push through continental Europe.
Once you experience the emotion of it all, the golf becomes secondary.
Unfortunately, the second nine of the 6,166-meter (6,743-yard) course wanders away from the coast, leaving the views and the more interesting hilly terrain behind.
The club's other course, Le Manoir (The Manor), features water on six holes.
Lunch on the clubhouse patio won't disappoint. My ham-and-cheese sandwich was probably the best sandwich I've ever eaten at a golf course. Maybe it was French bread lathered in butter.
The clubhouse is just a short walk from the Mercure Omaha Beach Hotel, home to the L'Albatros restaurant, spa, outdoor heated pool and 74 rooms. Although I never had time to step inside, staying the night would make perfect sense for any American touring war sites.