The word Paris brings up numerous associations. Add challenging golf to that. Le Golf National on the south side of Paris is hosting the prestigious golf competition Ryder Cup 2018. Every two-year the international golf fever heats up when the tournament approaches, this year from September 28 – 30.
What the Ryder Cup is? In short, Europe against USA. The best 12 – male – players of each continent compete in different forms of play over three days. Alternating between courses in Europe and the United States, its Europe’s turn. The Ryder Cup is not only about golf and sports but also about team spirit, loyalty, chauvinism and a very united Europe.
I was more than happy to accept a press invite to discover the premises and… play the course at Le Golf National!
Le Golf National, the Albatros course
Once a cornfield, now a more than challenging golf course. The Albatros course originally opened in 1990 and after a remodelling in 2016, the course is now up and ready to receive the best players of the world.
Driving up to the complex the Ryder Cup signing is already in full swing (pun intended), large stands are being built and infrastructure finalized to receive about 60.000 (!) spectators a day.
The first hole is a real tester right from the tee box. Dog leg to the right, water on the left and blind spots in the middle. This one requires course management. Especially with wind in play like we had.
To accommodate all these spectators on the course and not have it ruined after day one, they are already letting the rough grow quite high. Well, what can I say? Trouble. The rough means trouble.
Apart from that there are countless links style bunkers and undulated fairways. And if you think you know your way around the course, wait for 15 until 18. This is where the real Ryder Cup drama will unfold. The stunning final 4 holes are surrounded by water hazards and give the term island green new meaning.
Stay at Le Golf National St. Quentin
The Novotel Saint Quentin is the on-course hotel. Utterly convenient and has friendly staff both at reception and in the café. It is a short indoor walk to the pro shop/caddiemaster and from there onto the course. Not after spending practise time on the putting green in front of the building, of course.
My small – executive – room has a view of the 16th hole, a real tester par 3 with defensive bunkers and too much water. But back to room and bathroom: all bare necessities are present. Perfect accommodation for a 2 night stay while playing the course or hosting a company conference. If you’re looking for a more romantic luxury stay, keep on reading for some tips.
The Saint Quentin café serves remarkable good food. Reserve a table in advance, on the terrace weather permitting, and analyze todays game over dinner while watching players struggle on the 18th island green.
Where else to play?
Although Le Golf National Albatros course is the must play course, preferably twice, once in the area you might as well play a few more in the golf slipstream. There are many possibilities to choose from.
We also played Golf de Bethemont, a charming parkland course about 20 minutes from Le Golf National. This public course – designed by former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Langer – plays along old oak trees and stone walls on rolling hills. From the terrace of the old manor style clubhouse there’s a great view over the 18th hole and surroundings.
If you are into links style golf – yes! – you might be pleasantly surprised by Golf de Courson, see photo above. I really liked this course despite the rainy and windy day. With 4 x 9 holes there is enough variation to play more than one day. We played black/orange and encountered many bunkers, well-kept greens and challenging water hazards. The lay-out of hole 5 and 9 Black is noteworthy, they share a double green protected by uh.. lots of water. Make sure to bring some extra balls.
Where else to stay?
If you want more luxury and/or French allure, there are alternative luxury country retreats (with spa) south of Paris and within easy reach of Le Golf National. Because hey, we do love castles and manor houses. Like the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace where both Ryder cup teams will stay. Or Chateau d’ Augerville close to Fontainebleau.
Dutch golf travel agent Golf and Country travel specializes in custom-made luxury golf travel and offers a variety of golf trips that include tee times on the Albatros course of Le Golf National. Before or after the Ryder Cup 2018.
Chateau de Versailles, a must see
To complete this golf trip, let’s add some culture into the mix. You simply can’t be that close to the most megalomania palace of all times, Chateau de Versailles, and nót pay a visit. So, a welcome change from boogies and shanks, only 20 minutes from Le Golf National. It was my first time visit and I am still in awe. It is hard to process these evocative extremes in size, mirrors, marble, gold and crystal.
We enjoyed a private tour experience of hidden areas and went behind secret doors where once kings and queens liked to withdraw. A surprising and intimate glimpse of another history of Versailles,. Wandering through Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom quarters by myself qualifies as hidden luxury incarnate.
I’ve blocked September 28-30 in my diary, anticipating to watch the Ryder Cup 2018 tournament with local knowledge this time. This definitely adds an extra dimension. Let’s hope that it will be European team captain Thomas Bjørn who will be thrown – tradition! – in the water after the winning putt. Water enough around the 18th green. Go team Europe!!
My stay and play at Le Golf National was by invitation on behalf of Chapter Fifty. We only accept invites that answer positive to the question: “does it match our lifestyle?”. I will not promote or review anything that I would not wear, eat, sleep or see myself. Authenticity is very important to me. Words, photos and opinions are my own.