Ryder Cup Goes to France in 2018
By Dave Lockhart
The golf world was in a state of shock back in 2011 when France was awarded the privilege of hosting the world’s premier professional golf event: the Ryder Cup. Thanks in part to donations from players in The French Golf Federation along with assistance from the French government. In hindsight, France seems like the perfect country to host these historic matches as golf has been played here dating all the way back to the 1800’s. The game remains an integral part of French culture with over 400 courses strewn throughout this diverse, beautiful and fantastical land mass.
The host course for the 2018 Ryder Cup matches is Le Golf National located just outside of historic Versailles and about 40 minutes from Paris. The Albatross course is a water-laden Robert Von Hagge / Hubert Chesneau design that brings to mind the Tournament Players Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The layout is full of risk reward shots; as such, it is an ideal venue for match-play formats used in the Ryder Cup event. An interesting combination of Scottish links and target-style golf. One of the great virtues of the layout is that it is open to the public. The adjacent Novotel Hotel offers up an elegant room with a round at the Albatross course for less than $230.
This stadium-like venue is much in the vein of a TPC track with large mounding providing ideal views of the action for the fans, in fact there are a number of spots where you can see three to four holes at one time. The folks managing the French event anticipate crowds of 60,000+ patrons per day. Now that’s a lot of cheese and wine!
A must visit for anyone visiting France is The Palace of Versailles known as the Château de Versailles. Louis the 14th and Marie-Antoinette spent some serious time here back in the 17th century.
….and since you came all this way you might as well tour a bit…
In the north of France lies the charming seaside towns of Honfleur and Deauville, Normandy. Honfleur has a feel that is pure France with a scenic harbor that is surrounded by numerous restaurants serving delectable food and tasty wine. There’s also a variety of street musicians adding background ambiance that puts you in a total chill mode.
For the past 42 years, the city of Deauville has hosted one of the world’s largest film festivals, oddly named the American Film Festival. The event has attracted a virtual Who’s Who of Hollywood including the likes of Jack Nicholson and Angelina Jolie. When in town, be sure to check out the Hippodrome–a thoroughbred horseracing track—as well as a sprawling and spectacular beach.
The Golf Barrière Deauville boasts three nine-hole courses that wind their way up and down the undulating property wrapping around the stately hotel. Only a couple of hours from Paris places you in a relaxed environment enjoying courses designed by Tom Simpson and the immortal Henry Cotton. Here you can take in spectacular views of the town of Deauville and the Atlantic Ocean. The highlight of your round is an interesting ruin of a castle wall to the right of the 12th hole of the White Course. A number of movie stars have teed up at Golf Barrière, including Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman.
As great as the golf is in this region, all Americans need to set aside a few hours of their trip to visit Normandy. Stroll the sands of Omaha Beach and you can STILL feel the history and turmoil that took place here on June 6th, 1944.
At Point Du Hoc, many remnants of World War II can be still be found. The American Cemetery is also nearby where 9,387 brave soldiers rest. Visiting the memorials and grave sites here is a truly humbling, moving and unforgettable experience that everyone needs to see.
The Ryder Cup is a battle of a different kind that takes place every two years. The twelve best players from the United States versus the twelve best from Europe. The Europeans were on a nice run winning six of the last seven matches until the USA triumphed by the score of 17-11 in 2016 at Hazeltine Golf Club in Minnesota. So come 2018 in France, Team Europe will look to settle the score.
Omaha Beach Golf Club is a worthwhile golf experience all while taking in a bit more history. Here you will find breathtaking views on two different 18-hole layouts. The La Mer championship course goes right up to the scenic blue Atlantic Ocean. World War II is memorialized here as each tee marker represents key figures in the war, including Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Winston Churchill.
In the south just outside the city of Nice is Europe’s number one golf resort in the Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort. World-class touches abound in this secluded all-suite and villa hotel that certainly has it all.
Terre Blanche Golf offers two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by ex-professional golfer and renowned golf course architect Dave Thomas called Le Château and Le Riou. Matt Kuchar is a regular guest at the property.
Le Château (The Palace) is an outstanding 18-hole public course that is 7,235 yards long and is the most demanding of the two courses. The bunkers and greens enable players to experience the true playing conditions of a championship course.
Its water hazards are beautiful, yet treacherous. A multi-tiered waterfall flows downhill in front of an elevated green on the par-3 second hole. Each year in September Le Chateau Course hosts the ‘French Riviera Masters’, the only Senior European Tour championship in France. The course is strong one is it’s ranked Number 14 in Continental Europe by Golf World.
Le Riou (The River) was built in 2004 is 6567-yard long and features fairways with significant drops and greens that will test your putting prowess. This course was a joy to play and not as demanding as Le Chateau. The par-4 9th hole stands out playing uphill with a waterfall and a pond along the right side.
The par-5 18th starts with a tee set high on a plateau playing down to brilliant water features along the entire right side, making it an ideal and scenic risk-reward finishing hole.
The gourmet restaurant at Terre Blanche’s Le Faventia, is quite prestigious, in fact it has Michelin Starred status due to its unsurpassed cuisine and service.
While French-US relations have sometimes been chilly over the years, know that Americans are today warmly welcomed. You will note that most countrymen and women are fit and happy. This may come as a surprise due to the vast quantities of bread and amazing rich butter that are served everywhere you go.
The 2018 Ryder Cup Matches should serve to educate and win over golf travelers to the spectacular country of France. What’s not to love? Encompassing medieval cities; alpine villages; Mediterranean beaches; the famed fashion houses and classical art museums of Paris, and, of course, the Louvre and the iconic Eiffel Tower. Versailles might just be best place The Ryder Cup matches have ever been held. Fantastique!
For more information on France and its golf offerings, visit: http://us.france.fr/