The next home Ryder Cup will be in France, with long-time Open de France venue, Le Golf National in Paris, playing host in 2018…
Believe it or not, it is now 23 years since Europe lost a Ryder Cup on home soil, when the USA won 15-13 at The Belfry in 1993 under Tom Watson’s leadership as Costantino Rocca stumbled down the stretch and Europe’s big guns failed to deliver in the bottom half of the singles draw.
Since then Europe has won at Valderrama, The Belfry, The K Club, Celtic Manor and The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles. One of the common denominators among those courses is that they were all long-time European Tour venues by the time the Ryder Cup came round, meaning Europe’s players were very familiar with the demands of the layouts.
If that has perhaps been a big factor in our home successes over the past quarter of a century, then all bodes well for 2018 when the Ryder Cup heads to Le Golf National in France, where the Albatros course has been the near-permanent home of the Open de France for the past 25 years.
The course was designed by Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge in collaboration with Pierre Thevenin, and in true modern-day European Ryder Cup fashion, serves up plenty of water to keep the players on their toes both early on, and then most famously down the stretch, where water is in play on every shot from the 15th onwards other than on the water-free 17th
The layout, which has recently undergone a year-long upgrade in preparation for the 2018 Ryder Cup, will undoubtedly serve up the most nerve-jangling final hole since that last Belfry contest in 1993. For although the final holes at the K Club and Celtic Manor both feature water, it pales into relative insignificance compared to the prospect of the final hole at Le Golf National should the outcome of a match still be on the line.
This 471-yarder has water all the way down the left to its island green where there is virtually no bail-out whatsoever long, short or right. The bunkers on the right off the tee have been remodelled to catch the eye a little more, and anyone who catches those in their efforts to avoid the water will have little option but to lay up unless they’re feeling really brave or desperate… which may or may not be a bad thing depending on where their opponent is!
In total, water comes into play at least somewhere on over half the holes – as much as at Celtic Manor and certainly more than at Gleneagles last time round.
The water will no doubt claim many casualties, but the European team should draw much confidence from the fact that collectively as a tour they will have had over 25 years’ course experience by the time things get underway in Paris in late 2018.