Golf International Pont Royal, in the Provence region of France, has experienced a significant upturn in group visits led by club professionals in the past 12 months.
An investment in the resort’s academy appears to have paid dividends as pro-led trips – largely from northern Europe – have increased by almost 37 per cent year on year.
The 37-acre Durance Training Centre – the only one of its kind in the region – is just five minutes from the resort’s Seve Ballesteros-designed course and comprises a two-storey driving range, large putting green, a short-game practice area, a 1,039-yard, six-hole course, featuring five par-three holes and one par-four, and a David Leadbetter Academy.
And now, the improved facilities and clement weather at Pont Royal appear to have combined to provide the perfect destination for club professionals looking to get away with a group of members for a coaching break.
Pont Royal’s director of golf, Jérome Lauredi, said: “There are many things to be taken into account when planning a coaching break: the golf facilities at the resort; the reliability of good weather; good accommodation; the availability of restaurants and bars; and the ease of access.
“At Pont Royal, we’re just 40km north of Marseille Airport, so we’ve always benefited from most of those, but the investment in the academy has also raised the level there, meaning it’s now an attractive proposition for club pros – and, arguably, more culturally fulfilling than the standard trips to the coasts of Portugal or Spain.
“What’s more, our resident coaches are always happy to offer support to pros or to provide private tuition for individual visitors should the need arise, meaning it’s a very welcoming place all round.”
Testament to the quality of the academy is the fact Pont Royal has the largest junior section in the region and is also the base for the current French amateur champion, 20-year-old Camille Bordone.
Accommodation at Pont Royal is offered in the 100-room, four-star Moulin de Vernègues hotel and spa, part of Les Collectionneurs, which sits adjacent to the course’s second green. It is located in a charming manor house, with the assets of bygone days, but with a touch of modernity, harmoniously integrated with classical architecture. Self-catering apartments, villas and houses are available within the pedestrianised Pierre & Vacances village, where guests enjoy 20 per cent discount on green fees.
The Ballesteros-designed course – the only one in France – will host the European Challenge Tour’s second Hopps Open de Provence in September. Many holes are blessed with a plateau setting, offering stunning views to the Luberon and Alpilles mountain ranges.
Technical shaping of shots is required to reach the true, slick greens, and visitors enjoy an interesting, wide variety of holes that form a smooth and seamless experience. It contains some tough holes – none more so than the 11th, where players face a 215-yard test across a steep rocky valley to a raised green.
Just 40km north of Marseille International Airport, Pont Royal is easily accessible from most major European cities, and is regarded as one of the top venues in the region.