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The two-year countdown to the 2018 Ryder Cup is underway

03 October, 2016

The two-year countdown to the 2018 Ryder Cup is underway

Andy previews the 2018 Ryder Cup venue and samples a pair of Gallic gems

In a little under two years’ time, the 2018 Ryder Cup will be in full flow at Le Golf National close to Paris. Their L’Albatros course is an ideal venue with many similarities to previous European Ryder Cup layouts at Gleneagles, Celtic Manor and four-time host, The Belfry.

I have just returned from a trip, hosted by Brittany Ferries, to showcase the 2018 Ryder Cup course and the wonderful city of Versailles, home to centuries of history and, of course, the famous Palace.

The trip started with an overnight sailing from Portsmouth to Caen, which provided a refreshing way to arrive in France – no airport hassles, no extra baggage charges and you can take your own vehicle.

Le Golf Parc Robert Hersant

The first golf course we visited was the Robert Hersant at Le Golf Parc, in La Chaussée-d'Ivry. This is a strong layout that’s currently ranked #76 in our French Top 100. The biggest challenge facing golfers here is water – and there’s plenty of it – with only two holes (5th and 6th) that have no aquatic danger.

My favourite three holes at the venue named after the late media magnate are all spectacular. The 4th is a big par four at around 450 yards with the last 120 yards all-carry over a massive lake. The par five 12th is, in my opinion, the best hole here bar none, a shortish par five arcing all the way around the lake, to an island green – you have got to be brave to take this green on in two!

The 15th is another par five, which on paper does not have distance as protection. In a similar vein to the 12th hole, there’s water on the right, but there are also two lake tributaries to cross on the way to the hole – the term “risk and reward” could have been coined for this three-shotter.

A few holes would benefit from a little attention in terms of presentation but I believe Le Golf Parc Robert Hersant has many memorable holes, a very smart clubhouse and is well worth a visit.

We moved on towards Paris and stopped around 20 miles to the west of the romantic city at Versailles. Hotel Le Versailles then became our home for a couple of nights and it’s very well positioned to explore the wonderful city on foot.

Golf de Rochefort

The next experience was Golf de Rochefort, a course designed by Fred Hawtree and operated by the Exculsiv Golf group. Currently the layout is not featured in our French rankings, but I feel this is an error as it’s a good course in a Woburn-like style, with majestic tree-lined holes sweeping this way and that. The 9th could be the hardest par four I’ve played for many years, which doglegs to the left with a fairway sloping to the right. After the dogleg, there’s a long uphill shot to a well-protected green. It’s a brilliant hole.

The Woburn feel is definitely in mind on the very next hole. The par three 10th is similar to the par three 9th on the Duke’s course – just a tee, a huge dip and then the green. The par five 11th ends a strong run of three holes. From an elevated tee, the hole turns a little left and it was just about reachable for me – although I did still manage to three putt!

If you visit Golf de Rochefort I recommend spending spend some time off of the course, the property’s buildings are impressive. Surprisingly, Golf de Rochefort was the course highlight for me on this visit to France.

Golf National (L’Albatros)

Our final round was played on the 2018 Ryder Cup course at Le Golf National and it’s always a real privilege to play on any course that has staged golf’s greatest team spectacle. To have intimate first-hand experience when it all unfolds again in 2018 will be very special.

L’ Albatros has hosted the French Open for the last quarter of a century and the tour pros love the layout. It’s a very technical course, where the yardage book needs to be close to hand for the whole round because knowing the exact distances is the key to attack the greens in the best possible way. The course is bound to evoke exciting Ryder Cup drama right from the start with water on the opening par four and then more water on the par three 2nd. I would not be surprised if some matches are either two up or two down after these two holes.

Not too far away from these dramatic opening holes are the closing four. I sincerely hope that many matches reach this latter part of the course, as it promises much excitement. The 15th, 16th and 18th are among the best on offer at Golf National, all with greens cut close to lakes. This layout was fashioned for tournament golf and in two years’ time it will host the greatest golf show on earth.

We then made the return journey from Caen to Portsmouth and overall it was a memorable trip. I thoroughly recommend the ferry crossing option and if you’re considering a French golf holiday, here are some headline points from our hosts at Brittany Ferries:

  • Crowd free fairways in Brittany, Normandy and The Loire
  • Pack all you need in your car
  • Price match guarantee
  • Sailings from Portsmouth, Plymouth and Poole
  • Experts on the golf desk – making all your arrangements

Andy Newmarch
Top 100 Golf Courses


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