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Golf in the mountains
In the Rhône-Alpes region, architects have also used their imagination to design courses in the mountains, on slopes that skiers and snowboarders hurtle down, in the winter, without thinking for a moment that their acrobatic figures rest on the fleshy lips of a bunker covered with a thick white coat.
Building a golf course on these slopes with their impressive gradients might seem an impossible mission. The first in France to take up the challenge was the Englishman Henry Cotton who created the Mont d'Arbois golf course in 1923, at an altitude of almost 1300 metres. Then it was Robert Trent Jones', turn sixty years later, to carry out the Chamonix golf course in the grandiose setting of Mont Blanc Massifs and Red Needles.
The gamble was a bold one, it still is, given the very short time frame for completing the work (from June to October) and making the installations profitable (at best three months in the year). Unlike Méribel,, the Chamonix golf course is relatively flat, the course being used as a cross-country ski trail in winter. Despite these constraints, mountain golf courses have multiplied. Indeed, there are eleven in the departments of theIsère, of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. For the resorts that have always lived on the winter months alone, golf and new leisure activities such as mountain biking, rafting or paragliding have enabled them to diversify their tourism income and live two seasons instead of one. It is not uncommon to find a land steward putting on skis in winter and taking on the combination of ski instructors. Two seasons, two jobs.
Golfers have also discovered a new way of practising their passion, because you don't play in the mountains as you do on the plains. The driver is not the most used club in the, bag, but the tee-off is preferred to the more precise and easier to control, irons. The ball flies higher and longer, an important parameter in the choice of the club. The slopes also play a significant role in the strategy of the game, and on the, greens the slopes always run towards the valley. In the mountains, you have to give up your certainties. Here, the score is less important than the pleasure, because concentration is impaired by the scenery of these immaculate landscapes. In the mountains, you take your time. The fairways of these golf courses, which some people describe with a touch of irony as "goat's tracks", are too steep to ride all the way to the ball.
In the interest of communication and fierce competition, the stations embarked on a race for altitude. In 1984, the Arcs open their 18 holes at an altitude of 1850mLet that not hold, two years more twisted, Robert Berthet realizes the Flaine golf course at 2,000m. The record seems unbeatable. But in 1993 TP4 opens the Tignes golf course at 2 100m, record beaten. The following year, Isola 2000, in the Alpes-Maritimes, equals Tignes. Since, no golf course has ever reached this height.
Near Grenoble, the routes have found refuge at medium altitudes, such as the one in Grenoble-Bresson, a very beautiful realization of Robert Trent Jones Jr, whose culminating point is measured at only 400m of altitude. But from the top of its fairways, one plays facing the chain of Belledone, at the Chartreuse Massif And, on hole n°9, a long par 5 downhill, Grenoble appears in a wide hole of trees. The second shot towards the green becomes striking.
It is not enough to give an architect a mountain backdrop to give free rein to his creativity. Au Saint-Etienne golf course, is a rubbish dump that Thierry Sprecher has rehabilitated to transform it into a green hole in the heart of the old mining town. When I was brought to the site, it was full of stones. Dogs were howling to death, it was a real garbage can" , tells the architect. As the history of the workers is part of the heritage of Saint-Etienne, a stele was installed at the back of the green of 2, testimony of the firedamp blast from the Chana well which killed a hundred miners in 1942. The green is placed on the entrance of this shaft, closing forever the pages of a painful history.
In Lyon, capital of Gaul, Villette d'Anthon Golf Club or Lyon Golf Club was the pioneer in the Rhône department. Built in 1965 on a two hundred hectare, estate on the banks of the river, the two courses designed by Hugues Lambert are tributes to the game. The championship course, les Sangliers, has an unaccustomed length of 6 727m, and was the scene of the 1979 French Open and the Lyon Open until 1994. The second 18-hole, course is called Brocards, after the year-old roe deer that frolic with their mothers in the undergrowth. These two courses with numerous water obstacles are also home to wild swans, grey herons, egrets and black kites. A real Noah's Ark, just a few kilometres from the famous Lyon "bouchons" (traffic jams).
Less than three hours drive from the Mediterranean and Italy,, two hours from Switzerland, and one hour from the winter sports resorts,, France's third largest city is in a privileged position in France. At weekends,, the people of Lyon have plenty to choose from, because near the Swiss border, golf courses abound and at weekends the people of Lyon meet up with the people of Geneva, who only have to cross the border. White House, Esery, Bossey and Evian are the four favourite courses of the Rhodanians and the Swiss.
But the Evian golf course is one step ahead of the competition. For this water city on the shores of Lake Geneva also offers a casino to the appetite of players on green carpet and two hotels of international class, the Royal, a palace open since 1909, and the Hermitage with a more Savoyard charm. At the beginning of the 20th century, celebrities were crowding into the great salons of the Royal. On the promenade along Lake Geneva, Isadora Duncan, the Countess Anna de Noailles, the Princess of Hohenlohe admired their toilets while princes, maharajahs and financial barons were quoting while smoking cigars in the smoking room. The Aga Khan reserved the Aga Khan's apartment of honor in the west wing of the palace every summer. For more than forty years, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili people was to enliven the evenings of Evian and the afternoons of the golf course, the first course of which dates back to 1904.
This 18-hole course on Lake Geneva was rustic. At that time, it was far from modern standards. It was not until the renovation undertaken, from 1988 to 1990, by Robert Trent Jones' former assistant, Cabell Robinson, that the Royal Club Evian reached the level of quality demanded by the clients of the two major hotels. Then, under the impetus of the Danone Group, owner of the luxury facilities of this Savoy water city, a major women's tournament was created in 1994: The Evian Masters. Thanks to the grace or dynonism of Antoine Riboud and then his son, Frank, the tournament has become the unmissable event on the European women's circuit. Since the creation of the, tournament the course has grown in altitude, the course has been embellished and has recently been adorned with waterfalls and rivers to magnify the elegant swing of these balls from the greens. During the four days of the, competition these young women are treated like royalty.
Knowledgeable oenologists say that the wines of the Mâconnais region are elegant and round. It was while tasting a Pouilly-Fuissé or a Juliénas that the architect Robert Berthet sketched out his Mâcon-la-Salle course Or did he imagine this route with its suggestive curves by satisfying himself with women's bodies? To go all the way with the idea, still needed an "inflated" client and an adapted site. Patrick de la Chesnois subscribed to the idea. As for the site, la Salle, in Burgundy, region of gastronomy, of great heady wines, country of hilltops (as geographers say) seemed to me to meet all the criteria ", wrote the architect in a magazine of the French magazine "La Salle". Golf dedicated to the eternal feminine.
Eighteen holes in homage to the body with its greens and bunkers in the shape of foot and hand, its zones between the tee and the fairway like long, tapered legs covered in dark green#8230; A golf course that takes on the erotic dimension of a helicopter. At ground level, the shapes seem to escape the gaze of voyeurs.
In Mâcon-la-Salle, the female body is not simply sublimated by the architect's pencil stroke. Nature has taken care of giving it an ornament: "The rough is clothing. Sometimes veil, and sometimes light (golfers say "short grass"), draped along the body, and sometimes thick fur of broom and roses or fruit-tree hair…. There is also, placed like a necklace around the green of n° 11, a string of "bunker-apples" and, there, I don't remember why, the apple ... ...".