With the drama of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles still fresh in the memory, what better time than now to look ahead to 2018 and the next time the biennial contest returns to Europe at Le Golf National, near Paris.
The 2018 match will be the first-ever time the famous contest has been played on French soil and the first time it has returned to continental Europe since 1997, when it was staged at Valderrama in Spain.
Located on the outskirts of Versailles, near Paris, Le Golf National is the well-established home of the Alstom Open de France, and beat off competition from Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain to host the prestigious event.
You need only look at the demand for rounds at Gleneagles in the lead up to this year’s contest to know that Le Golf National will be high on the list of ‘must play’ courses for many golfers around the world over the next few years. It’s lucky, then, that it definitely lives up to its billing.
Its renowned L’Albatros course, designed by architects Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge, is a lush and sprawling course with stadium views, slick greens, undulating fairways and a variety of different sized water hazards and links style bunkers.
Tough holes book-end your round, with the opening two always tough. The wind can play havoc with your second shot on the first hole as it swirls and changes direction, making it hard to get the right distance. Meanwhile, the 213-yard par-3 second is played over water, leaving little margin for error off the tee.
You’ll need to play the holes that follow well, too, if you’re going to post a score, particularly over the last four holes. From 15 to 18, there are plenty of places to hit your ball into the drink. Water is in your sights at all times, making these holes that you need to survive rather than score on.
With Le Golf National just 45 minutes’ drive from the centre of Paris, and Golf Disneyland Paris set to play host to the Junior Ryder Cup, you can take full advantage of many of the region’s best golf courses while also experiencing the culture and history of the city.
The Eiffel Tower is a ‘must see’ every time you visit this city. The spectacular landmark has two levels where visitors can enjoy some food and wine with beautiful views out over the city, and a third level at the top of the tower where you can see for miles around. There is bound to be a part of it you’ve not visited yet.
Alternatively, you can take in the lively atmosphere of the shops on and around the Champs-Élysées, visit the historic and internationally-renowned art gallery, The Louvre, or head over to Montmartre, where the stunning Sacre-Coeur Roman Catholic church is located. Notre Dame Cathedral is also worth a look.
Once you’ve taken in your share of culture, there are plenty of places to play golf in and around the city. Golf de Saint Germain is home to a championship course that is ranked amongst the best in France. Harry Colt designed its 18-hole layout and the beautiful set-up is complemented by the attractive, skilfully-crafted and challenging holes throughout.
La Vallée course at Golf de la Boulie is another fantastic place to play and is part of one of the biggest sports clubs in France, enjoying everything you would expect from a top-class golf venue. The clubhouse and facilities are special, too, and it has three golf courses for you to choose from - two 18-hole and one nine-hole - during your visit.
La Vallée is the older of the two 18-hole courses and is a beautiful parkland design with plenty of flora and fauna lining the fairways. The par-3s are where you’ll encounter the most difficulty, with plenty of bunkers defending the greens and just waiting to gather your ball if you go offline.
If you want to play more than one course in a day, or don’t fancy travelling very far, then a trip to Chantilly will surely appeal. With three brilliant golf courses in close proximity to one another, you can enjoy the stunning layouts, all within easy travelling distances of each other.
Located between the historic towns of Chantilly and Abbeye du Royaumont, Club Du Lys nestles in a noticeably upmarket area and offers some of the best golf in the region. Les Chenes is the bigger of the two courses and each hole has been designed with its own distinctive character.
On the other side of Chantilly, the Tom Simpson-designed Vineuil course at Golf de Chantilly is widely regarded as amongst the best in the country.
Offering an excellent mix of quality tree-lined and open parkland holes, the course is always kept to a very high standard and boasts some of the best putting surfaces to be found on a French golf course.
Good course management is essential when playing here, but even if you’re not playing your best golf, you can still enjoy the quiet, woodland environment.
Last but not least, Apremont Country Club is extremely welcoming for visitors. A pleasant layout that offers a good challenge throughout, there are two breathtaking par-3s over water at the eighth and 16th that everyone will enjoy.
So, Le Golf National might be the name on everybody’s lips over the next few years but there is so much more to golf in Paris than first meets the eye. Bonnes vacances!