Le Golf National Albatross Course, near Versailles, France—designed by Rick Baril, ASGCA and Mike Smelek, ASGCA in collaboration with their firm’s former leader Robert von Hagge and French golf course architect Hubert Chesneau—was recently named the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
“We designed Le Golf National with the vision that one day, it could, indeed, host the Ryder Cup!” notes Baril. “We developed the course in a very dramatic fashion, where the final four hole ‘gauntlet’—15, 16, 17 and 18—can all feel the drama. This all materialized from a flat featureless field, to chaos, then to the final magnificent course that was 100 percent pure fabrication and collaboration.”
The course was originally designed as the permanent home of the “French Open” and has the features of a stadium course, capable of accommodating crowds of 70,000 or more with its finishing holes. It’s particularly well-suited for the drama of match play in front of deep galleries.
The French Golf Federation (Federation Française de golf, or FFG) commissioned von Hagge, Smelek and Baril to assist in the planning and design of the tournament course. Says Baril, “Since we provided the routing of the golf course and were intimately involved in its detailed design and dramatic stadium setting, we could not be more ecstatic about the announcement. I know Mr. von Hagge (who died in 2010) would have been thrilled. He always said, ‘The true reward will be the recognition we receive.’ And now, hosting the Ryder Cup truly renders that reward!”
Baril and Smelek were elected to ASGCA as Associate members in 2005 and moved to Regular membership in 2008. The design team currently has more than a dozen projects in development and construction and has worked all over the world. The Ryder Cup, played biennially between teams representing the United States and Europe, will be played in fall, 2018.