Golf in France has increased in popularity during the last ten years. New courses are appearing everywhere. Our local course, ‘Golf de Montal’, is very beautiful, from the 5th hole there is a wonderful view across the countryside. You can see the three major chateaux of the area; Chateau de Montal, Chateau de St Laurent de Tour, and the Chateau De Castlenau. The greens are immaculately kept, and there are hardly any queues or hold ups, although in the height of summer, it may be advisable to book a tee-time. Montal is situated half a mile north of St Cère, in the department of the Lot which is in the Midi Pyrenees.

‘Golf de Montal’ is a very friendly club. Alongside its French members, a lot of foreigners belong to the club. Visitors who are on holiday and play at the club, say the clubs sense of friendliness is unique and the atmosphere is hard to be found anywhere else. Almost every Sunday from March to November and on Wednesday mornings in August there is a competition, which is open to both members and non-members.

The penultimate competition of and most popular ‘match’ of the year is the ‘Montal Cup’. After the Ryder Cup’ one year’, everybody thought it would be fun if Montal should have a competition between the French and ‘Rest of the World’. The Rest of the World team has golfers from the UK, US, and various European countries. Everybody builds up an enthusiastic ‘team’ spirit for it, players dress in the colour of their country; the French paint their faces the colours of the tricolour. A member of the team from Portugal even puts a Portuguese flag in his Yorkshire Terriers hair! This year, marked the sixth year the Cup has been played, the Europeans a won with the help of a newly appointed captain who was determined to win her team a victory. After the match play doubles were played the first week the score rested at 6 : 6 . The following week it was the singles match-play, 22 matches were played taking the score to 22 ? 18.

The end of each tournament is rounded of with a buffet. This has become quite a ritual; everybody gets excited; the French have been known to take notes around the table so they can match their buffet on a par with the Europeans. This year the European captain wanted to ‘wow’ the French, being a caterer before moving to France, she had plenty of ideas. She roasted a loin of pork and served it with all the trimmings, all the other members of the team made delicacies from each of their countries. Cakes were baked for dessert, alongside the captain’s renowned meringues, which are always well received in the club house. By the time we ate, the following week, the French were dour and depressed at the prospect of defeat; they also laid on a wonderful spread full of French appetizers. Someone made ‘Foie Gras’, a Frenchman jokily said ‘the Foie Gras is only for the French, as he was still upset.

All in all, the Montal Cup gives everyone a lot of pleasure. The golf club in Mazemat holds a similar type of competition, where the Protestants play against the Catholics. It is absurd you can become so enthusiastic with a game, which is theoretically just hitting a ball with a stick; it goes to prove you can make good friends and cut down international barriers.

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