It may be six and a half years away, but the European Tour Destination’s Albatross Course is benefiting from the expertise of European Golf Design whose senior design team is liaising with the European Tour and the French Golf Federation as planning commences.
EGD was widely praised for producing the Celtic Manor Resort’s Twenty Ten Course, which enabled the 2010 Ryder Cup to be completed despite extraordinary rainfall, is now assessing masterplans for the golf course as well as the logistics and facilities required to make the venue a global sporting arena.
Ross McMurray, Designer of the Twenty Ten Course, said: “There are many aspects to the course that golfers, professional and amateur, really enjoy, so we don’t wish to alter its popular appeal and the overall experience. However, there are a number of bunkers that will need to be moved for strategic reasons, because they are no longer in play for the longer hitters, while others will be upgraded.
“Some tees may also be placed in more interesting positions, and the Ryder Cup will demand a greater variety of flag positions than the existing greens currently offer.”
As the course is in regular use on the European Tour, the main challenge facing the designers relates more to the scale of the event and the consequential increase in footfall rather than re-modelling what is already a world-class course.
Jeremy Slessor, Managing Director of European Golf Design said: “Le Golf National is a very different project compared with Celtic Manor, but the experience that we gained in Wales will be crucial as we embark on delivering another Ryder Cup venue.
“Planning a course for a Ryder Cup is quite unlike typical tour competitions as the vast crowds only have a limited amount of golf to follow.
“Put simply, it’s a case of forecasting what might occur and finding the best solution. For example, the Alstom Open de France is played in summer when it’s less likely to rain. However, given that the Ryder Cup will be held in September, we need to ensure that the drainage system is up to coping with more substantial rainfall – something we were insistent on at The Celtic Manor Resort.”
The Alstom Open de France has been hosted at Le Golf National on 18 occasions since 1991 and is a popular event in The European Tour schedule, boasting many former Ryder Cup stalwarts as past champions including, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance and 2012 European Ryder Cup Team captain, José María Olazábal.
EGD, which is the golf course design company of The European Tour and IMG, is now aiming to make it an iconic course and an historic Ryder Cup venue.
Pascal GRIZOT, President of the FFGolf Ryder Cup 2018 Committee said: “Hosting the Ryder Cup is a tremendous honor and an enormous responsibility. It seems that the venues get better and better with every passing event and European Golf Design will be invaluable in preparing Le Golf National for the world’s media, the vast crowds and of course, the best players from America and Europe.”
“The Albatros Course, built in 1990, was the brain child of Hubert Chesneau. From the early days Hubert and the French Golf Federation have pursued the ambition for the Golf National to become a Ryder Cup venue. It is now a reality, however a great deal of work remains, if we want this to become a dream come true”.