In 2018 France will host the Ryder Cup for the first time at Le Golf National, near Paris. Glyn Pritchard travelled to the course courtesy of Your Golf Travel, Atout France and the Paris Region Tourist Board, to discover what golf’s biggest team event has in store.
Next year the Ryder Cup will be played over L’Albatros course at Le Golf National near Versailles and close to the centre of Paris. So unlike previous Ryder Cup venues in Europe and in the States that have been held in remote locations, the 2018 Ryder cup combines golf’s premier event with access to one of the greatest tourist cities in the world. This makes it an ideal venue for club trips with the opportunity to stay and enjoy a city rich in culture and with a vibrant nightlife. For the young and the young at heart there is also Disneyland Paris.
Getting to Paris is easy, with the Eurostar rail service from St Pancras, London taking only two hours and fifteen minutes to reach the Gare Du Nord in the centre of Paris, just 17 miles from Le Golf National. It’s relatively easy to travel with golf bags on Eurostar with special drop-off and pick-up points for oversize luggage. In addition to watching the Ryder Cup and enjoying all the delights Paris has to offer, the Île-de-France region around Paris has some outstanding golf courses for visiting players including Fontainebleau Golf (ranked eighth best in Europe by Today’s Golfer), Château de Cély GC and La Boulie. In total there are nearly 40 top ranked courses in the region.
L’Albatros course itself was designed as a stadium venue with capacity to welcome the 60,000 visitors a day expected for the Ryder Cup. L’Albatros has hosted the Open de France almost every year since it opened in 1990. Measuring 7,321 yards from the back tees it’s a stern test with water featuring on ten holes including the opening hole. They say the hardest shot in golf is the first tee shot at the Ryder Cup so the lake running alongside the left of the opening fairway should certainly concentrate the minds of the world’s best players. The eighteenth features a lake in play off the tee with an island green to finish which will make for some exciting finishes to the close matches.
L’Albatros is like an inland links to play, somewhat akin to the London Golf Club in Kent, with hardly any trees and a lot of deep rough. In addition to L’Albatros, Le Golf National also features the 18-hole L’Aigle and nine hole L’Oiselet courses. There is an onsite Novotel hotel and the whole venue has recently benefitted from a €7 million renovation programme. Hire clubs are nearly new TaylorMade M3 complete sets and not the unmatched odd assortment of irons and woods often found in hire bags. Logistical plans for manging Ryder Cup visitors are well advanced with an efficient public transport system in place to cope with the expected spectators numbers travelling in daily from Paris. In addition to the Ryder Cup, Paris is bidding to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Should the bid succeed, and Paris is currently favourite, then Le Golf National will also be the venue for the Olympic golf event.
As well as watching the Ryder Cup many visitors will want to play golf and the Fontainebleau forest area to the south-east of Paris offers some first class courses. Fontainebleau Golf, Château de Cély GC and Augerville Golf have combined to offer a weekday or weekend golf pass across all three courses, giving excellent value. This can also be combined with a two night stay at a four-star hotel in Fontainebleau.
Founded in 1909, the Fontainebleau golf course is one of the oldest in France and is a private members club. It’s a classic heathland course, very reminiscent of the heathland courses in Surrey. There are some spectacular elevated tees with views over the ancient Fontainebleau royal hunting forest. Château de Cély Golf Club is operated by the Exlusiv Golf group and features 14th-century chateau as the clubhouse. It’s a parkland course and every hole is a pleasure to the eye. Augerville Golf is a member of Château & Hotels Collection and features four-star onsite hotel with spa and two restaurants.
For club pros, secretaries and managers the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris really does offer the opportunity for an excellent members’ tour, enjoying the best spectacle in golf, while staying in one of the most delightful cities in the world.