For most of us, the mere mention of French golf brings forth the image of Jean Van De Velde surrendering the lead in a spectacular way at the 1999 British Open Championship.
It turns out that golf is France is a growing sport, with a large number of quality, public courses. In an article in The Global Post, William Echikson writes of the blossoming of The One True Sport in the land of Napoleon.
Although the British exported their game to this southwestern tip of France more than a century ago, the game has only gained traction here in the past few years. Now France is turning the elite, exclusive pastime into democratic pursuit. French golf courses are financially stable, the number of golfers is growing, and most of the best layouts are open to the public and charge reasonable green fees.
Echikson also writes that the French Golf Association has been instrumental in increasing interest in golf:
The French Federation of Golf modernized: Instead of requiring country club membership to become a “licensed” golfer, it permits green-fees-paying public course affectionados to sign up — on the internet and for only 10 euros (about $13). A license permits holders to participate in tournaments and training sessions throughout the country. Today, the Federation has more than 400,000 members and the quality of play is fast improving. Throughout France, from April through October, clubs put on high-level Grand Prix events to encourage talented young golfers to improve.
I don’t know if France will ever produce a stable of golfers in the way that, say South Africa has, but it just might. The article also makes me think that there just might be a French golf travel industry in the offing.