It’s go­ing to be a big party . . . for some­body.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Ryan Her­ring­ton

An un­usual dis­or­der seems to over­come tour pro­fes­sion­als who have played the Al­ba­tros Course at Le Golf Na­tional, site of the 42nd Ry­der Cup on Septem­ber 28-30 in France. Call it tem­po­rary am­ne­sia, for the lack of a more clin­i­cal di­ag­no­sis.

When dis­cussing the Hu­bert Ch­es­neau/Robert von Hagge de­sign in gen­eral terms, the early re­views are typ­i­cally com­pli­men­tary.The con­sen­sus among play­ers is that you don’t have to be long off the tee to score.And though the need for solid shot­mak­ing to ma­noeu­vre around the nu­mer­ous lakes, humps and bumps is real, in sev­eral spots the course af­fords the chance to make amends for mis­takes.

“It’s a great test of golf,” Justin Thomas said when he got his first glimpse in July while play­ing the French Open.“It’s not like there are any hid­den tricks or any­thing like that.” How­ever . . . Grab the pros af­ter they’ve walked off the course, and they men­tion what they seem to have for­got­ten:The place plays harder than it looks, par­tic­u­larly the four claus­tro­pho­bic clos­ing holes lo­cals re­fer to as The Loop of Doom.

“It’s a golf course that can re­ally beat you up if you’re not on your guard,” says Thomas Levet, one of three French­men, with Jean Van deVelde andVic­tor Dubuis­son, to have com­peted in the Ry­der Cup.“You don’t nec­es­sar­ily think about it like that. It’s a bit crafty that way, al­most di­a­bol­i­cal.”

Con­sider the dev­il­ish end to July’s French Open. A par 4 on the 18th would have given Ju­lian Suri the win, but the Amer­i­can’s ap­proach found the wa­ter guard­ing the green and led to a dou­ble bo­gey. Eng­land’s Chris Wood also dropped shots on the 15th and 17th, and Jon Rahm didn’t even last that long, mak­ing a triple­bo­gey 7 on the 12th hole. Alex Noren fin­ished more than a half-hour ahead of the fi­nal pair­ing and played the last four holes in two un­der to win.

Still, if the Al­ba­tros Ail­ment holds, all will be for­got­ten come Septem­ber, the adrenalin of the bi­en­nial com­pe­ti­tion fu­elling both teams. For the Amer­i­cans, the goal is to win away from the United States, some­thing that hasn’t hap­pened since 1993. The Euro­peans are trying to keep from los­ing two straight matches for the first time in that 25-year span.

This is just the sec­ond time the Ry­der Cup will be played in con­ti­nen­tal Europe, the other com­ing in 1997 at Valder­rama in Spain. Le Golf Na­tional of­fers nu­mer­ous risk-re­ward op­por­tu­ni­ties, pre­sent­ing op­tions that should make it an in­trigu­ing match-play venue. Com­bined with the lo­ca­tion – 30 kilo­me­tres south­west of cen­tral Paris and eight kilo­me­tres from his­toric Ver­sailles – and the not-so-small fact that sev­eral play­ers oc­cu­py­ing both ros­ters seem to have their games in peak form, there’s the po­ten­tial for a dra­matic three days out­side the City of Lights.

To get you fully pre­pared, here are nine things to know about the Ry­der Cup venue.

it’s not a new course

The Al­ba­tros opened on Oc­to­ber 5, 1990; the in­au­gu­ral four­ball fea­tured ma­jor cham­pi­ons Greg Nor­man, Jeff Sluman and Ray­mond Floyd join­ing French pro­fes­sional Marc Farry. It was the cul­mi­na­tion of a nearly decade-long en­deav­our by Claude-Roger Cartier, the pres­i­dent of the French Golf Fed­er­a­tion and a quiet, be­hind-the-scenes pres­ence in the rise of the Euro­pean Tour.

Cartier’s idea was to cre­ate a per­ma­nent home for the French Open – the old­est na­tional Open in con­ti­nen­tal Europe, played since 1906 – and es­tab­lish a per­for­mance cen­tre for France’s na­tional teams in hopes of in­creas­ing the pro­file of golf within the coun­try.To carry it out, he found roughly 138 hectares of state-owned land in the Paris sub­urb of Saint-Quentin-en-Yve­lines and ne­go­ti­ated a 99-year lease with the gov­ern­ment.

The master plan in­cluded 45 holes – Le Golf Na­tional has a sec­ond 18-hole course, the Aigle (French for ea­gle), and the nine-hole Oise­let (birdie) – and a teach­ing academy for golfers of all lev­els. Of course, it was not an en­tirely phil­an­thropic mis­sion – the prop­erty in­cludes a 131-room re­sort.

One in­ter­est­ing wrin­kle in Le Golf Na­tional’s cre­ation: Because the prop­erty had been used for agri­cul­ture pur­poses, it was de­cid­edly flat. Cartier, who died in 2014 at 93, worked with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to have soil ex­ca­vated from build­ing projects in Paris and trans­ported out of the city.An es­ti­mated 1.6 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of dirt was trucked in and used to shape the cour­ses.

Since its open­ing, Le Golf Na­tional has hosted the na­tional Open every year ex­cept 1999 and 2001; no­table win­ners in­clude Colin Mont­gomerie, Retief Goosen, Graeme Mc­Dow­ell (twice), Martin Kaymer and Tommy Fleet­wood.

it’s also a “new” course

Af­ter the Euro­pean PGA Tour awarded it the Ry­der Cup in May 2011, the French Golf Fed­er­a­tion made good on its prom­ise to up­grade the Al­ba­tros. Ac­cord­ing to Paul Ar­mitage, gen­eral man­ager of Le Golf Na­tional, nearly €8 mil­lion was spent on course ren­o­va­tions, mostly done in 2014 and 2015.

Chief among the changes was length­en­ing sev­eral holes, in­clud­ing the three par 5s. The course is listed at 7 234 yards (6 615 me­tres) for the Ry­der Cup with a par of 71. Other no­table up­dates:

Cre­ation of a lake, in­tended as part of the orig­i­nal de­sign, in front of the par-3 11th hole, re­plac­ing marsh­land that had dried up.

Re­designed greens on the first and 16th holes to al­low for more pin po­si­tions.

wel­come to wa­ter: the green at the 408-yard 15th (left) and the 471-yard 18th (right).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.