Archive for the ‘Golf Travel’ Category

Gaudet Luce Golf Club – TSG Review…

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Gaude Luce Golf ClubGaudet Luce Golf club (pronounced Gore-day Loose) is set in a very nice part of rural Worcestershire.

Located on the edge of Droitwich Spa, the club is very easy to locate as it is only 5mins from the M5 and has named signs from the town centre.

Worcester is only 20mins away, and Birmingham about 40mins.

As a new TSG Club Partner, we sent TSGer Andy King to check out the course and share with his fellow TSGers, his view on the course.

Over to you Andy…


Gaudet Luce Golf Club – The Clubhouse & Shop…

It is thought Gaudet Luce is Latin for something like ‘Rejoiceful Light‘ as we were told by the Company Director whos family has always owned this course since its start in the late 90’s.

I personally love a golf course you drive through part of to get to the clubhouse, you get a little taster, and Gaudet Luce doesn’t disappoint.

Gaude Luce Golf Club 2

The car park is big but there are several other businesses onsite, so parking might be a problem at certain times.  We had no issue, and probably will be fine most times….

The course and clubhouse are relatively new, established in 1995. So, as you’d expect, the clubhouse is very modern, clean and tidy.

However, their trophy cabinet in the welcoming and comfortable bar, is as impressive as you’d find in a club a hundred years old.  #

 

All staff, bar, shop, and just generally were friendly and helpful (not only to us, but we noticed they stopped to chat, and were as helpful as they could be to members we saw onsite as well ).

We had some food and drinks after, which were very nice and reasonably priced, the bar area although good, if it was used to cater to a large society might get a bit cramped, 30 or so would be fine but hey may have other areas for larger groups.

The Pro shop is not huge but is well stocked, and recently incorporates the retail company, American Golf, so you know what you’re going to have on offer.

Speaking to the shop staff about the course was informative about 150yrd markers etc, however, the weather lately had been so good, there was nothing for them to warn us about by the way of wet or muddy parts.

There’s a teaching school available with details on the Gaudet Luce Golf Club website.

 


Gaudet Luce Golf Club – The Courses…

Gaude Luce Golf Club 2

There are two courses, the 9 hole Par 3 ‘Hazdor’ course which looked very nice and is used for a quick round, practice, and lessons etc by members and guests.

However, the absolute star of the show is the full 18 hole ‘Phoenix’ course.

Off the Whites, it is 6053yrds Par 70.  Yellows  5869yrds Par 70. Reds 5392yrds Par 73

This may not seem to be ‘long’ by modern standards, but if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, you may go home shaking your head.

However, you WILL want to come back for another go…frankly, it’s a stunner!

A beautiful Parkland course that’s got the balance just right.  Not too daunting for high handicappers, not too easy for low handicappers.

The condition in early May was excellent.

Good quality Tee boxes with lovely features like box hedge surround, fairways that were springy and lush, just the right amount, and Greens that were true and a good speed.

There is some water to negotiate, but again, it’s not too much. Everything was high quality.

It is quite tree lined (especially the front 9), but not too punishing, and the trees etc. frame the course beautifully.

It is a course of two halves, the front nine being tight in places but shorter.

The back nine more open but longer and with more water and some slopes to contend with.

From the first nice wide downhill tee, although OOB down the right, the course unfolds in front of you, with all holes offering something different.

The 2nd being a gentle downhill Par 3, but watch out for the pin placement.

However, the tricky 4th demonstrates the ‘short/tight’ idea though.  At only 263 yards from the yellows this Par 4 seems easy…it’s not.

With an entrance to the green through the eye of a needle, you need to be pinpoint accurate.

The 353 yard, 7th is quite straightforward…IF you get a good intimidating drive away.

Quite a carry over water to the fairway will worry some.  The Par 5, 8th will get the grey matter going, calculating distances over ( or not ) brooks, and around ( or NOT ) ponds to a very very shallow green.

The more open back nine starts with a great Par 3, but straight away, you see the water coming into play.

The downhill 11th is also worthy of a special mention, as again the view sweeping down is fabulous.

Another Par 3 at 12 shows a very popular hole that has DANGER written all over it.

I’ll say little about the monster that is the 14th (421yrds mostly uphill par 4 at ‘only’ stroke index 13. Ouch !!!)

ALL of the Par 3 holes stood out as special, but my favourite hole was the 17th.  Off the yellow tee, a 502yrd Par 5, that the 2nd half is STEEPLY uphill to a platform green.

However after all that effort, turn around and look back down the hole….the view will take your breath away (even if you might need a buggy to be ABLE to breathe after that climb!).

The course is easy to find your way around, as most tees are within sight of the previous green, and where they weren’t, there were good signs showing the way.

There ARE birdies out there to be had, but you need to play carefully to benefit.  A real thinkers course!


Gaude Luce Golf Club 4

Gaudet Luce Golf Club – Other stuff…

Practise facilities are also very well catered for.  A good full range, practise putting areas and the helpful shop Pro’s all there to prepare you for your round.  Lessons are available, and the club seems very well set up for societies etc.

In fact, the clubs website is one of the most detailed I have ever seen.

From their price range to play and other offers onsite, like FootGolf, membership, and group golf days ( even to the opening and closing times of the kitchen, and online menu’s!!).

There also looks like a lot going on away from the golf.

With special offer meal deals, and entertainment galore.  I would seriously look into membership here…if only it wasn’t nearly 200miles from home !!

Coming from the London area, I thought the cost was very good value for money, even at the weekend.

Two of my group came from about 1hrs drive away and were already thinking of it as a great venue for their society to come to because of the cost and the quality of the ‘Phoenix’. Visit – Gaude Luce Golf Club – TSG Club Partner Offers

 


Gaudet Luce Golf Club – Conclusion…

All in all, Gaudet Luce is a fantastic club and course making us feel very welcome and is a delight to play.

A real gem, well worth a trip. Really struggling to think of ANYTHING to criticise.

Yes, some may argue you can hear the M5 most of the way around, but personally, it’s not too loud and I managed to ‘blot’ that out after a few holes.

I would highly recommend this course to any local people, or, like me, a visitor from further away. You’ll love it.

TSG Verdict: 4.5 out of 5!

By Andy King


Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – TSG Review…

 

 

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – TSG Review…

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 4Having planted my ball on the 7th green at Peeble Beach (at the TSG Open Championship on a simulator!), the next thing I know I’ve won a golfing trip to Sicily courtesy of Golf Escapes and Il Picciolo Golf Resort.

And having added a few dates to our trip, here’s my review for my fellow Social Golfer members to enjoy….

By Paul Houghton


Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – location and accommodation, Facilities…

Il Picciolo Golf Resort in the centre of the Mediterranean island of Sicily is situated roughly 50 miles from Catania Airport.

The hotel is over half way up Mount Etna the scenery is spectacular.

The transfer cost is 120 Euros (one way) and takes 50+ minutes.

The hotel and course itself were built in 1989 but sadly the outside of the hotel reflects this and is badly in need of refurbishment.

On arrival you approach a rather dated reception, where details are taken, language is not a barrier but no help with luggage was offered?

Sadly, the first thing to note is the hotel is not overly disabled friendly, some steps are not accompanied with handrails.  However, the rooms are of a good size with on suite bathroom facilities.

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 5

They are clean and the chambermaid service is very good.  Towels and shower gel etc changed every day. The room boasts Sky television and a mini bar.  Only four coat hangers per person encourage you to travel light, but there’s plenty of space for clothing and storage is available.

The restaurant was very spacious but a little dark, the staff were courteous but surely on occasion.

The three-course evening meal costs 29 Euros and was very good, most of the time.  The Saturday evening buffet was superb, only the last night did I feel the food was of a poor standard.  The breakfast layout is bland but of good quality.

The service during breakfast seemed more relaxed.  I fell one evening slipping on a discarded cucumber slice and the staff were very quick to act, cleaning up the debris, but alas did not follow up to ask if this disabled man was injured, so we felt could have been handled better.

The hotel catered for coach parties which stayed one or two nights at the hotel, staff seemed more attentive towards them than the longer staying cliental.

The cocktail bar was run by a very efficient member of staff for most of our stay (7 nights) but when she was not on duty, she was replaced by staff who obviously did not enjoy the role.

The drinks were not cheap at £7 for a G & T, we were never offered a complimentary appetiser even though it was part of our deal?! As far as entertainment goes it karaoke style.

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - SicilyOne evening a singer sang along to backing tracks until midnight (about 5 hours), alas she was the only entertainment of the week and whilst it was ok, New York New York wears a bit thin after a while!

The spa was very tranquil and ticked many boxes as to treatments.

The staff there were helpful and made it a very enjoyable experience.  Information on the few trips (3) offered was sparse, no leaflets were offered.  A trip up Etna was offered for £100 but no meal made it seem very expensive.  Getting a taxi return to Taormina was over a £100 it was 30 minutes away.

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – The staff…

To be brutally honest, overall, the staff communication was a problem the whole week.

There was a power cut one day, no explanation was offered to the guests and we only got into our room by seeking help from a cleaner?

The resort manager (Guy) did make an effort to discuss how our experience was going, he was very friendly and chatted whenever we saw him (he was English) but surprisingly, no other staff engaged to that level, instead, they saved their conversation for Italian guests

Il Picciolo Golf Resort, Sicily – The Golf Course…

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 2

The Clubhouse is situated a few hundred yards from the hotel.  Your round can be booked through the hotel, but buggies have to be paid for at the club. The Pro at the club is friendly and his staff are very helpful.

The office doubles with helicopter rides up Etna, so they are not only focussed with the golfers. A spacious locker room is accompanied by shower facilities.  There are drinks machines for refreshments and confectionary.

There had been a fire in the kitchens, so no other food was available at the golf club which was a little disappointing.

However, the Practise facilities are VERY good, a driving range, practice bunker with plenty of sand in it, a dedicated chipping green and practice putting green.  I was given free practise balls – refreshing as that wouldn’t happen in the UK.

A round of golf is not cheap at 85 Euros buggies are 45 Euros.  The course is nicely set out with some challenging holes but the clover (just off the fairways) is four inches long and thick.

 

Lost balls are inevitable as the fairways are no more than 20 paces.  I felt this was too penial, looking for balls becomes a bit of a chore when you’ve hit a good shot.

It’s a shame as the course has some dramatic holes, but its let down by unkept rough, clover, daisies and very poor signage. A stroke saver is essential for 5 Euros. The slope index does give the average golfer two shots, but it’s the looking for balls that effects your game. #

Paul Houghton - The Social golfer - Il Piccolo Etna - Sicily 3

This is a very undulating course so if you’re going to walk be prepared, the temperature can fluctuate 10 or 12 degrees while you are out there. A fair bit of work needs to address these issues to bring the course up to its best.

However, one thing I will always remember is the scenic backdrop, the views of Mount Etna are spectacular…. and would make me return just to view again.

In summary, Il Picciolo Golf Resort could be an exceptional course but it really needs a lot of work on it to get it above a 3 out of 5 rating.

Would I revisit Il Picciolo?  Probably not until I see improvement in the course, its nowhere near the standard of courses for the same money in Spain or Portugal.

I think its pricing its self out of the market of the average golfer if it wants to attract the better player a lot of work needs to be done to compete with the Algarve etc.

TSG Verdict – 3 out of 5 stars

 

 

Unique Golf Courses of the World – Christmas Island…

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Christmas Island Golf CourseFollowing on from Scottish Bob’s blog series on the Oldest Golf Courses of the World by continent in 2017, Bob now turns his attention to some of the lesser known courses around the world, this time its the turn of Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean)…


Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean)…

We have all heard the saying “All your Christmas’s come at once” but this can be true while playing golf on Australia’s most northern golf course!

Situated just 2,600 km, North, North-West of Perth, Western Australia and is Australia’s jewel in the beautiful Indian ocean.

Golf on Christmas Island golf is amazing, the course sits on top a volcanic seamount, pushed up by the volcanic eruptions many millions of years ago.

It is a 18 hole par 64 layout, with fully grassed fairways & greens and it is set on an eastern, gently sloping plateau.

The course is bordered by the Indian Ocean on the east and tropical rainforest jungle to the west.

The golf course was first established by Mr Jack Pettigrew in 1955, who many years earlier had cleared the area while being held prisoner by the invading Japanese forces.

The club is run entirely by volunteers and the course ideally located to catch the south-east trade winds.

Christmas Island Golf Course v2Christmas Island, Australia (Indian Ocean) – Thr rules…

The beautiful Clubhouse is perfectly placed overlooking the golf course and Indian Ocean, and according to one of the members, men are NOT allowed on the course on a Wednesday afternoon… and the women are NOT allowed on the course on a Friday afternoon.

If this rule is disobeyed the offending male/female will have to pay for the drinks.

While playing your round of golf, the flora & fauna will amaze you, as will the abundance of Frigate birds & Fruit bats and ‘Abbotts Booby’s’ nesting in the tall trees nearby. NO, it’s not what you are thinking, these are real birds.

However, at certain times of the year, you will come across the “infamous Red Crabs” or the largest land crab, “The Robber Crab”. This unique and endemic species has resulted in local rule concerning the crabs “pinching your balls”.

And at times, the golf course can be a sea of red, with tens of thousands of crabs making their way to the Ocean. During the months of November through to early January, the red crabs migrate from the jungle to the ocean to mate and spawn their eggs.

Breeding is usually synchronized island wide and it is estimated that there are around 40-50 million crabs around the island in total.

No, you can’t have “Chilli Mud Crab” as you can’t eat them, there are a further 14 different species of crabs on the island.

Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary (a shipping Vessel which was owned by The East India Company) named the island when his ship passed it on Christmas Day 1643. So now you know!

Till Next Time…

Scottish Bob - TheSocialGolfer.com

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Scottish Bob Davies


Other Unique Golf Course articles from around the world – courtesy of Bob…

The Social Golfer Golf Partner Offers…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

The Social Golfer PRO member Partner OffersDid you know, that you receive a FREE ROUND of golf courtesy of CROWN GOLF (worth up to £35) when you renew or upgrade to a TSG PRO account for £29.98 in 2018-2019* + many other Golf Partner Offers.

Did you also know that ALL TSGers, can take advantage of discounts on Golf Balls, Insurance, Trophies and Travel – See below

More TSG Golf Partner Offers…

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N.B. You MUST mention this at the time of booking! (T&C’s apply) 

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More info on the type of golf ball you need email  scott@premierlakeballs.com or visit Premier Lake Balls

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Trophies & Medals is the UK’s leading Trophy specialist – Visit Trophies & Medals

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Chateau Des Vigiers is better than ever…

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Chateau des Vigiers Golf ClubOne of France’s leading golf resorts Chateau des Vigiers has prepared for the country’s first Ryder Cup year by making a wide range of improvements…


Chateau des Vigiers – The Resort…

Chateau des Vigiers, the 27-hole golf resort in the heart of the Dordogne wine region of south-west France, now promises ‘visiting golfers’ an even better experience.

With upgraded golf & leisure facilities, renovated bedrooms, and a sumptuous new wine cellar in the chateau’s Michelin Star restaurant, “Les Fresques”.

Known as ‘Petit Versailles’, the resort’s 16th-century chateau forms an enchanting backdrop when you check into one of the hotel’s 65 four-star rooms.

And if you’re a golfer you will find new-look changing rooms, a much more comprehensive pro shop and upgraded golf buggy tracks this season, as well as improved bunkers out on the golf course.

The latest Callaway and Titleist golf equipment is now available to test and buy from the Chateau des Vigiers pro shop, with the 2018 range of FootJoy golf shoes plus golf apparel from Under Armour, Adidas, Glenmuir, Rohnisch and Brax all on show.

Chateau des Vigiers Golf ClubChateau des Vigiers Golf Club – Property…

For those looking for a more permanent ‘home away from home’ in beautiful south-west France, Chateau des Vigiers also now has five brand-new golf homes for sale overlooking the 7th and 8th greens, each individually-designed by French architect Didier Griffoul.

The one, two and three-bedroom properties come complete with their own golf buggy, and give owners direct access both to 27 holes of French resort golf and to the estate’s many facilities, right on the doorstep.

If you are seeking to relax as well as play golf, the newly-renovated Spa at Chateau des Vigiers will reopen in May 2018 with a new hydrotherapy pool.

Three new treatment rooms and a new team of beauticians on hand with the 2018 range of Sothys Paris beauty products.

Chateau des Vigiers Golf Club – What They Said…

2018 is a significant year for golf in France, with the eyes of the world upon us when The Ryder Cup visits our country this September, and we are expecting to welcome record numbers of golfers to our wonderful facility.” said Niels Koetsier, Managing Director at Chateau des Vigiers.

Our goal is to end 2018 ranked well inside Europe’s Top 50 golf resorts, and among the top five places to stay & play golf in France.”

“Our enchanting location, our beautiful accommodation, our gourmet dining and of course our majestic golf course and chateau all make Chateau des Vigiers a unique experience, and these recent improvements will make your memories even more magical.”

Director of Golf Matthew Storm said: “Alongside the other golf facility improvements which we have made over the winter, we have also recently invested in our greenkeeping team. “

“As a result, all 27 holes will be in stunning condition for the new season. Our greens, tees and fairways offer truly wonderful playing surfaces, and golfers will find one of France’s best-maintained golf courses when they come here in 2018.”

New shareholders took a controlling interest in Chateau des Vigiers in July 2017, and have already spent in excess of one million Euros on improvements.

The resort is now under new management, headed by Niels Koetsier who took over as the resort’s new Managing Director, also in July 2017.


Visit www.vigiers.com to book your next trip to Chateau des Vigiers, or call the resort on +33 (0)553 61 5000.

 

Ends.

TSG Interview – Paul Armitage at Le Golf National…

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Paul Armitage - General Manager at Le Golf National, ParisFollowing our round on L’ Albatros we sat down with Englishmen, Paul Armitage (General Manager of Le Golf National) to discuss his vision for the course and his excitement at being one of the few people in golf to experience, and deliver, the greatest show on earth this September…


Afternoon Paul and thank you for giving up your time for The Social Golfer. Firstly, you don’t need me to tell you, but I think the course playing  superbly. 

The Ryder Cup layout not only provides the event with a natural amphitheater, but I have no doubt that it will also prove a hit with the spectators too. There’s a real sense of theatre about the viewing positions, which will generate a superb atmosphere.

So, what’s an Englishmen doing in Paris running a Ryder up venue, how did you get here and what has been your greatest challenge since taking over the helm in 2014?

“Well, I was born and bred in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire and whilst I was an avid golfer, I was never good enough to think about being a golf professional and I never wanted to be an assistant pro.

So, I went to Northumbria University and studied international business finance. This included a year in France as part of the Erasmus program, meaning I discovered continental Europe at an early age.

Meanwhile, I was there, I was volunteering at a local golf course at the kid’s school and was later asked if I would be interested taking care of the competitions and events….

I did that job for three years, very happily, developing the turnover, membership programme, when a very exclusive private members club approached me to work for them.

However, as I was only 27, I was really far too young to take it through the change that was needed at that golf course.

As an Englishman, the Continentals assume you know everything about Golf, which of course you don’t but I coped and four years later we had created a Challenge Tour event and many high-end business events.

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

This then became a golf events agency, which turned into a marketing agency.

Later I worked for Le Club Golf, which is a network of 130 clubs (in France there is 700+ golf club with 50% of these belonging to a commercial group).

I was then asked to join the team at Le Golf National.  I started in August 2014 (after the bidding process) – the flagship venue for the French Golf Federation.”

What an opportunity, so what has been the Paul Armitage strategy at putting Le Golf National at the heart of the French Golf network?

“It’s been a creative process but ultimately, we can sum this up in a four-letter word. It’s not the one that you’re thinking of…. It’s LOVE!

It’s been about instilling this in all the staff minds and the visiting public. (Yes, Le Golf National is a PUBLIC course! – Ed.).

We concluded that we must put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and demonstrate to visitors, how much we LOVE the venue too

This follows through from the marketing staff through to the greenkeepers. The current Greenkeeping team is headed up by hugely talented and young man from Spain, who was working there for Jack Nicklaus design.

He also spent long periods in America. He is very passionate about the course and I think he’s brought 15 centimeters of extra sand on both fairways and greens.

We were very good from tee to green before 2014, but you wouldn’t recognize this place compared to today and that Is a credit to the team.”

So as a Public course, what is the business model?

Le Golf National - L' Albatros, Paris - Ryder Cup 2018 v2“When I started there was little difference on price across our three courses, so we immediately invested in L’Albatros (now circa 120 euros), which appealed to a higher end audience with the L’ Aigle (now circa 60 euros) providing visitors with a  more affordable green fee option.

This has allowed us to raise the quality of the flagship course hugely.

Previously the course has hosted more than 20 French Opens, meaning we are top of mind for French visitors but The Ryder Cup will allow us to reach golfers from further afield e.g. the UK.

In addition, the venue will be host to the 2024 Paris Olympics meaning there is a legacy for the course beyond September”

How and why was Le Golf National chosen as this year’s host venue and can you describe the course to potential visitors?

“Well one of the things going for us was the course was both established and proven in hosting big European tour events.

In addition, it’s also a good reward risk or reward golf course meaning that it is much loved by the European tour players, a big help when convincing the ‘powers that be’ to choose us.

Our well-earned reputation was also underpinned by the support from the French government and the French Golf Federation.

There was immediate state support ensuring the event was also secure and credible and not a financial risk.

In addition, all French golfers were part of a crowd-funding project whereby every golfer paid a levy on their membership fee to the tune of 3 euros per year.

Some of these funds were also channeled into the next generation of French academy golfers. The final reason is the proximity to Paris.

This will be the first Ryder Cup to be played in a capital city, meaning transport links, accommodation, are already in place”

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

So, if you had to sum of Le Golf National in one sentence what would you say and how much does it cost to be a member and what level of golfer do I need to be to play here?

“I want Le Golf National to be the MOST exclusive public golf course in the world!”

“We don’t have any members. We have a small number of subscribers who buy different Flexi memberships from around. 200 euros a month.

However, you have a handicap of 28 or below to play L’Albatros” (very reasonable! Ed.) Whilst it’s unfair to compare any golf course to another, we see Bethpage Golf Club as who we can aspire to be.

Bethpage is publicly owned by the Public Parks Council in New York. So, they’re very similar to us.”

Let’s talk about the competition, what are you really looking forward to most and what has been your most memorable moment so far?

“You know, I haven’t thought about this one. Hmmm…Of course, I am really looking forward to welcoming all the players on the first day.

However, I am very excited, about the first day when we will host the BIGGEST ever grandstand on the first tee in the history of the event but there is so much to do between now and then.

I guess the proudest moment of my career to date was to be asked to MC at the ‘One Year to Go’ event and Gala Dinner – a very proud moment indeed!

But now I think about it, I think there are many moments already which would have been amazing. It’s really a massive honour to do this job. I’m not joking.

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

You know, I don’t do it for free obviously, but it is an achievement in life that you look back on with huge pride.

What’s the best so far? Maybe working with the 800 kids in a match between Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk.

They didn’t actually play with a Captain of the USA and European teams, but they followed the youngsters in buggies with microphones, interviews, that was fun!

I am also looking forward to seeing how the teams react, The US team have got a young and friendly generation coming up who were changing things a bit American golf and they have built close relationships with each other than before.

Like our guys (European Team) 10, 15 years ago when Rose, Poulter, Westwood, and Rory were coming through, we were a team”.

The feeling we get from Bjorn and Furyk is there will be a friendlier atmosphere at this year’s cup but who is going to win?        

“Hmmm…. I’m going to send that one back to you. You must ask them that. It’s not for me to say. All I can say is they will both want to win!

I don’t mean to suggest that anyone will be unfriendly, but they are both wonderful people and highly motivated.”

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

And finally? What is your message to TSGers who want to come and play L’Albatros?

“Please come! We welcome all golfers to visit and enjoy a great experience. Play both a Ryder Cup AND the 2024 Olympic Games golf course.

And hopefully, you will fall in LOVE with Le Golf National too”.

Paul Armitage was talking to Ian Mullins for TheSocialGolfer.com

 


 

Our TSG Verdict: We couldn’t have been welcomed more by the staff and team at Le Golf National – our thanks to everyone there – we wish Paul Armitage and all his team well for September. We’ll all be glued to our screens cheering you, and European Team on to victory!

 

 

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review …

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

It’s 2018 and that means The Ryder Cup year! As some of you may have read on the TSG Facebook newsfeed, we recently took up the invite to visit Le Golf National – the host venue in Paris. Here’s our special report from Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review…

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Club…

Although only built in 1990, Le Golf National is a much more established than its age suggests.  Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge.

It is located in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, southwest of central Paris, just 10k from the world-renowned Palace of Versailles, and only 4 hours drive from Calais.

However, Le Golf National differs from any other Ryder Cup venue in that it is a Public course. This means that there is no ‘club’ as such, and no ‘members’, only Pay & Players. The course is also unique in the sense that it is owned by the French Golf Federation (FFG).

In September 1985 the President – Claude Roger Cartier – with his committee approved the creation and development of a “National Golf” venue and it was quickly completed and opened by the French Minister for Sports by R. Bambuck in October 1990.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Team …

The management team is small but effective and is headed up by Englishman Paul Armitage (who has been at the club since 2014).

Paul, who along with his very dedicated team has – over the last four years – put ‘LOVE’ at the heart of everything they do onsite, and its clear this strategy is paying off as everyone you meet including shop personnel bar staff are full of enthusiasm for the club (not always the case in the UK!)

This means it now rates among the best in the world. In addition, the course boasts an incredibly committed team of greenkeepers and advisors from the European Tour (preparing the track for Sept) but high praise was given to Spanish born Head Greenkeeper Alejandro Reyes, who at only 33 years old is the youngest person to ever prepare a Ryder Cup course.

The grounds, which cover 139 hectares, were originally flat and bare having been used as agricultural land since Louis XIV and the Château de Versailles when it was one of the areas where wheat was farmed.

Constructed to give a ‘stadium like’ feel to events and in time for the 1991 Open de France, The Albatros course has been their near-permanent home for the past 25 years.

In the wind and rain of the first day of the aforementioned first Open de France played on The Albatros, Nick Faldo deemed his score of 71 “Tough but fair”.

The Open de France had found its home. Other players from the European Tour also voiced their approval, mentioning The Albatros as one of their favourite courses.

In addition, to the flagship championship course, there is also The Aigle which was opened in September 1991, preceded by the 9 hole, Birdie Academy Course a few months before.

The venue has recently undergone a €7 million renovation programme to transform this national golf centre. The Championship Albatros course is now a globally recognised course with slick greens and vast undulating fairways dotted with large and small water hazards and innumerable links-style bunkers.

The course is consistently ranked in the World’s Top 100 Courses and Europe’s Top 10 by Golf World (UK) magazine.

We spent a long time chatting with GM – Paul Armitage – while in Paris and he shared much of his vision for the club.

This included an insight into the future of French Golf and while all eyes are focused on The Ryder Cup in 2018, it’s worth noting that Paul and his team have been successful at bidding to be the host venue for the Paris Olympics too.

Meaning, not only is there a legacy planned for the course but Le Golf National is also now home to the next generation of French golfers – with many young players to see as you make your way around the campus. More from Paul in the TSG February newsletter.

 Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – L’ Albatros…

An unforgettable experience…m

As you walk to the 1st Tee, you can sense, you can feel, you can hear the crowd: you realise that The Albatros is the perfect battlefield for one of the greatest duels in Sport.

The spectacular landscape has been created 30 years ago and recently remodelled. You cannot believe that it was constructed on old farmland.

It took more than 1k+ truckloads of rubble from Paris, tons of sand has been laid on the fairways and clever use of rainwater to create majestic lakes, ponds & streams.

Only the best sand has been used for this top European course, home of the French Open since 1991 and a favourite of the European players.

There is a lot of wildlife, from birds of prey to fish, frogs & butterflies, rabbits and many other wild creatures. The Albatros is a public course, so anyone with a minimum 28 handicap may venture and face the challenges ahead.  The experience will be with you for the rest of your life.

Every hole is well conceived, extremely aesthetically presented. At this time of the year, the landscape is bare, so the scenery feels delicate, imagine a very “dainty” ink/pen drawing. Obviously the Spring, Summer & Autumn will be a lot greener. A super space for the avid photographer with a suitable lens & eye for beauty.

We played the course on the 10th of January 2018, after 42 consecutive days of rain, the condition of the course is absolutely immaculate, from Tee boxes (choice of 5 colours), to the large & sweeping & undulating fairways, carpet-like feel, to the slick & well-shaped greens.

All with the very subtle slopes towards the water hazards, to the softest and driest sand I have ever played from and were always nicely raked.

However, don’t venture off the fairways, as the rough will punish you! Many other golf courses in the Paris region were closed due to the wetness but The Albatros stood stoically.

All the paths are tarmac, the signage is good, lovely course planner endorsed by the Greenkeeper at each hole, a ball washer & towel, and bin.

Le Golf National - Ryder Cup Course ReviewThe walk is not too strenuous but there are elevations as we are playing a Links type course.  We did not have much wind on the day but any wind will alter your thinking.

The pins position can be tricky, I believe the 1st hole will have nine pin positions, while the green is sloping towards a large lake, that will come into play on the 2nd hole as well.

There is a toilet at the end of the 6th hole which also serves the golfers need when coming down the 13th,  a water fountain is also located at this point.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – Stand Out Holes…

It is very hard to pick my favourite holes as they all have a special attraction & challenge, the last 4 holes provide the most beautiful layout, water everywhere & bunkers! But here are our selected four holes:

HOLE 1 – Par 4, I was so excited to be at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course, that the 1st hole stole the show & set the tone of what to come, I got a good score too: a dogleg right, slightly downhill, wide fairway narrowing to the green with large expanse of water on the left.  The pin position can be tricky as the green slopes towards the water.

HOLE 7 – Par 4, This was Ian’s favourite hole. The 2nd hardest hole on the course, it begins with an uphill drive to a plateau, leaving a long iron shot over ‘moguls’ to a very well protected and sloping green – this hole could be a real a card-wrecker!

HOLE 13 – Par 4,  A downhill dogleg right, leftish to the green, with a fairly long carry to the fairway sloping to a water hazard on the right, a lake preceding the green.  Must be very pretty in the Springtime with all the foliage on the trees surrounding the approach.

HOLE 16 – Par 3, One of the 4 stunning final holes, short but water on the right and three large bunkers guarding the approach to the green. The day we played I had to shout Fore! as my lovely shot went towards one of the bunkers, lovingly attended by one of the greenkeepers, who kindly allowed me to take a free drop… I was very apologetic, who wants to injure such a great team!

The final four holes provide the most beautiful layout, creating an incredible finish: The 15th & 18th greens are islands.

I had the privilege to accompany Monsieur Mullins on this two-day tour of this extraordinary scene at the Golf National.

There is a nice atmosphere in this very well managed golf venue (there are 2 other courses, The Aigle 18 holes, and The Oiselet, a 9 Academy course), a very large open-air driving range, putting greens, a Clubhouse modernly furnished with bar for drinks & food.

A dedicated team, who understand what a golf course & surroundings need to be like, how to create an image, how to treat its visiting golfers, one can feel it is managed with “LOVE” (see above).

Extremely warm, friendly & relaxed welcome in the chic Pro shop/Reception (it tops Wentworth’s), gorgeous & technical golf clothing with all the other goodies one needs for a good round, lots of the 2018 Ryder Cup memorabilia, a very artistic photo book by Claude Rodriguez that got my eye.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Verdict …

5 Out of 5!

My recommendation is to go, and go now!

You will have a very enjoyable experience on one of the Top 10 European golf courses, L’ Albatros will make history in the 2018 golfing world as its only the second time ever the event has been held outside of Great Britain.

For me, it was a proud moment to be on my home ground, I felt spoilt, I hope from the bottom of my heart that many “Social Golfers” will embrace the opportunity to play The Albatros course before end of August (or from October) and remember, if you need a native speaker, think of me….

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review by Brigitte Lockwood


Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – How To Get There with Golf Escapes…

Le Golf National Golf PackagesTSG official travel partner Golf Escapes can provide not only the accommodation and tee times at Le Golf National but all the help you will need in booking your Eurotunnel shuttle.

We used these experts to make our booking and it couldn’t have been easier.  Whether you want to play the course OR attend the event itself, Golf escapes can help.

Here are a few tips to remember when traveling to Le Golf National…

1. Le Shuttle Folkestone – arrive 45 minutes before departure to ensure a smooth experience.

2. Don’t forget the one hour time difference if you are planning to play golf on your arrival day.

3. Once you are in France, remember to drive on the right (this may sound obvious but…)

4. Know your obligations when driving in France e.g. warning triangles & high visibility jackets are a legal requirement. As are headlights reflectors, roadside recovery, a spare headlight bulb, your logbook and a copy of your insurance.

Finally, note, the course itself only closes just under a month before the big occasion.

For further details email us at info@golf-escapes.com , Click Here or CALL a member of the team on 01342 811 777

 Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – Find more TSG reviews here…

Top Tips for Golf Holidays (courtesy of Golf Escapes) …

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Top Tips for Golf Holidays

We all love to get away on a golf holiday but given the number of options available, what can help you decide when and where to go? We asked Stuart Ridley of Golf Escapes what his five Top Tips for making a good golf holiday, a great one…

1. Top Tips for Golf Holidays – Location, Location, Location…

Choosing your location is obviously one of the most important parts in ensuring your golf escape is the trip you have been hoping for.

There are a few things to consider when deciding where to take your partner, friends, colleagues or golf society/group.

Firstly, are you looking for peace and quiet or are you after a few lively nights out?

If it is a quiet weekend/week away you are looking for, then maybe base yourself at one of the many wonderful ‘Golf Resorts’ around Europe…

Golf resorts such as Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus, La Finca Golf Resort in the Costa Blanca and PGA Catalunya in the Costa Brava, all offer a unique holiday of high-end luxury with fantastic golf on site.

Normally, this type of location will appeal to someone looking for total relaxation without having to leave the resort, or spend too much time travelling whilst on holiday.

However, if you like the ‘party’ side of your golf trips, then there are plenty of towns that can fulfil your expectations;

Spanish towns such as Benalmadena Fuengirola in the Costa del Sol, Benidorm in the Costa Blanca and Los Alcazares in Murcia fit this bill.

Meanwhile, in Portugal, there are destinations such as Vilamoura & Alvor in the Algarve, all of which have plenty of nightlife to compliment your day’s golf.

 

Top tips for golf holidays - PGA-Catalunya

2. Top Tips for Golf Holidays – Try something new…

There are so many fantastic golf courses, hotels, and golf resorts around the world that it is always worth trying something new every now and then.

It is very easy for people to stick to the things they know and love, and I am guilty of it myself.

That is where a golf specialist like ourselves can help (other brands are available!)…

At Golf Escapes, there is always someone in the office who has visited a destination that you may not be aware of.

If you are used to going to Alvor, why not try heading further east in the Algarve to Tavira?

It is a stunning Portuguese town with plenty of bars and restaurants for you to enjoy in the evening.

Not to mention the fact you have the best golf course in Portugal – Monte Rei – just 15 minutes down the road.

However, for those looking for Winter sun, it is not just the Canary Islands that offer you the perfect golfing destination.

In recent years, new golfing locations in countries such as Morocco, Cyprus and Turkey have become available with courses such as Assoufid & Samanah in Morocco, Aphrodite HillsElea in Cyprus and Carya Montgomerie in Turkey.

In addition, there are a number of world-class golf courses to try.

For instance, if you like Marbella, try Prague or Girona.

If you want the best golf, go and visit the Silver Coast north of Lisbon.

With so many superb places to explore, there no reason to keep going back to the same places each year.

 

Top tips for golf holidays - Albatross

3. Top Tips for Golf Holidays –  Book early…

It is a bit of a myth that the best deals are only available when booking last minute!

Of course, there are often last minute deals to be had, but the best ones are always when booking early.

The majority of hotels offer early booking discounts when booking a certain amount of time before a travel date.The earlier you book, the higher the reduction.

We would always advise groups to try and get their trip booked 10 – 12 months before they travel.

Not only do you get the best prices, you also get the pick of the tee times.

With resorts getting busier, year on year, the tee times and hotel availability becomes limited a lot earlier than they used to, so get in there early!

 

Top tips for golf holidays - Aphrodite

4.Top Tips for Golf Holidays – The Flights…

When choosing your Golf Escape, don’t forget about the flights.

It is very easy to get carried away with getting prices together for lots of lovely golf resorts and packages, but if you can’t physically get there on time and in the budget, it can ruin all the plans you have made.

Although we would always advise people to book the hotel and golf package first, don’t forget to check the flights in advance.

www.skyscanner.net is a fantastic tool to help you do this, as is www.kayak.co.uk.

On sites such as these, you can easily search your preferred departure airport, dates and times, and literally search the whole globe for the cheapest flights around there are.

So if flights to Alicante, Faro, or Malaga come up with the best deals, then why not try golfing there?

It is a great way of starting your search, knowing that you already have the cheapest flights available.

However… do act quickly, as flight costs fluctuate every day.

 

Top tips for golf holidays - Assoufid

5. Top 5 Tips for Golf Holidays – Budget…

Make sure you go into the process of organising a holiday with a budget in mind.

Everybody has a budget they need to work too (even the most affluent) and we recommend you stick to it as closely as possible.

If you don’t, costs can soon spiral out of control.

And the last thing you want is for your trip to begin with a debate with your fellow golf travellers, arguing about how….“ We could have got the deal cheaper somewhere else”. 

Yep, we all know who they are.

Furthermore, it is very easy to find the cheapest hotel and the cheapest golf course only to find out that your flight then pushes you over budget.


Finally, feel free to call us (even if you just want advice), we love helping golfers find the best golf holiday, for them!

By Stuart Ridley (Golf Blogger at Golf Escapes).

Golfing in Antarctica …

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Golfing in AntarcticaNo doubt you will all be aware that there aren’t any ‘traditional’ golf courses at the South Pole but can you go golfing in Antarctica?

Rest assured, golf is played on this cold and wind-torn continent, more frequently than you think!

Golfing in Antarctica – McMurdo Station…

The residents of McMurdo Station (if the weather permits) improvise and build themselves a make-shift golf course, around all the huts and buildings of their surrounding area.

In the freezing conditions (which is most of the time!) they hold their golf tournaments, like the “The Winter’s End Classic”. 

The McMurdo Station is built on the bare volcanic rock on Ross Island and it is the farthest south solid ground that is accessible by ship, and it was built in 1956.

In 2009 I was lucky enough to make friends with a couple of workers based there via email and they were kind enough to send me one of their scorecards which I have in my special scorecard collection.

Which is the Oldest Golf Club in Antarctica – Scott Base Sation…

The same applies to the residents and workers at Scott Base Station where they hold their own golf tournaments, including the 2007 “Ross Island Masters International Invitational”.

Unfortunately, I do not know when golf first started being played on this part of the Antarctica but I am sure it was well before 2006.

I will try and do my best to find this out, and who knows maybe any of the readers of The Social Golfer might be able to let me know if they have any knowledge of golf being plated before these dates?

Til next time…

Scottish Bob

Next – The Oldest Golf Course in Asia…

Golf Escapes & The Social Golfer partner in new alliance…

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Il-Picciolo-Etna-Golf-Resort-Spa-Golf-EscapesThe online golf networking community TheSocialGolfer.com (TSG) has announced that itself and leading provider of Golf Holidays, Golf Escapes, have formed a strategic partnership which they hope will provide unique and great value to their respective followers…

Both companies have agreed on a one-year, detailed and unique activity plan whereby The Social Golfer will promote Golf Escapes packages and offers in its monthly newsletter and via the onsite TSG email.

All TSG members will receive a £25 discount on every booking made through Golf Escapes (T&C’s apply)*

In return, Golf Escapes will be offering everyone that books a golf package with them during the agreement, FREE annual membership to the popular online golf club worth £25 each.**

Furthermore, Golf Escapes will be an Official Partner at all TSG’s Major competitions throughout the year including their flagship event The Social Golfer OPEN which attracts over 70+ golfers from all over the south-east and as far away as Botswana!

This year, the event takes place at Farleigh GC (Part of the Foxhills Collection) in Surrey, on 30th July and Golf Escapes and their hotel partners will give all TSGers attending, the chance to win a luxury golf trip to Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa in Sicily.

Finally, as part of the agreement, The Social Golfer will host a Golf Escapes Society page, whereby the Golf Escapes team will be able to liaise directly with its own customers, posting additional offers and packages in the co-branded space.

Thus providing the Golf Escapes team, with the opportunity to have a great dialogue with its customers even when they are not travelling.

In addition, both parties will be sharing golf editorial and articles and social media content across their networks.

The deal, negotiated between Golf Escapes Commercial Director, James Bryan and TSG Managing Director, Ian Mullins will run from June 2017 to May 2017 with the option to extend beyond this period.

The Social Golfer & Golf EscapesCommenting on the partnership Bryan said “We first met with Ian in March this year and it quickly became obvious that their way great synergy between our two brands. Ian and his team are growing a fantastic interactive platform on which golfers can participate in golf games in the UK and abroad, and we have no doubt that this kind of agreement can only help us to grow the awareness of the Golf Escapes name among a very golf savvy audience. The Social Golfer is already providing superb value to its users and we can compliment this perfectly. I can’t wait to start working together!”

Mullins said “We have been working on finding a right golf travel partner for TSG for a while now but as soon as we sat down with James, we knew immediately we were talking to the right partners, with the same approach to customer service that we like to offer our members. James is the consummate professional and has already demonstrated that he does what he says he’s going to do. We are so pleased to be partnering with a company with such history and focus on providing golfers with a depth of information and expertise – it’s going to be fun!

For more information, please contact, theteam@thesocialgolfer.com or james@golf-escapes.com


Terms & Conditions…

Below are the T&Cs of the £25 discount as promised;

– This promotion entitles TSG members to a £25 discount from any Golf Escapes Ltd holiday booked for 2 nights or more for a group of 4 or more

– This promotion is valid for all TSG members but may be stopped without general notice

– Only one discount per booking may be used

– This discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other Golf Escapes offers, promotions or vouchers

– This discount is not exchangeable for cash or another voucher

– Any additional cost exceeding the value of this voucher will be paid by the redeemer

– This discount is exclusive to TSG and cannot be transferred or used by non-TSG members and cannot be used retrospectively

– This discount is valid only at Golf Escapes Ltd and can only be used towards the balance payment of a holiday and cannot be used for a deposit payment


** Only open to new members of TSG