The Ryder Cup heads to Continental Europe for just the second time in its history. Le Golf National, Paris will be this year’s host and will be fairly familiar to most of Team Europe due to it hosting of the annual European Tour event, HNA Open De France.
Eight of Europe’s team played in this year’s event, including the eventual winner, Alex Noren. Compare this to only Justin Thomas having played the course from Team USA, Europe already seem to have a slight upper hand.
The players will be playing on L’Albatros course and it has already been hyped up by Europe vice-captains Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. Westwood said: “It’s my favourite course in Europe. It could be a great Ryder Cup venue”.
The course has a yardage of 6,649 yards from the black tees, 534 yards less than 2016 Ryder Cup venue, Hazeltine.
Here’s a hole-by-hole guide to the course:
Hole 1: Par 4 - 419 yards
A fairly short par-4 awaits these hard hitters but one that will prove a big test. The slight dogleg right tee shot is intimidating due to the water on the left and the heavy rough on the right. The fairway gradually gets narrower the further you go towards the green so don’t expect to see many, if any, take the driver out the bag. A 250-280 yard tee shot to the left part of the fairway will leave just a short iron into a very slim but long green that is protected by three links bunkers.
Hole 2: Par 3 - 210 yards
This could be a very interesting hole over the week. Any par-3 involving water is a very exciting prospect but if the flag is in a generous position, it’s could be time to welcome a birdie. A back-left flag will leave a 220-yard tee shot and anything short will be very wet. Anything long will leave a horrible downhill bunker shot back towards the water. You might see some very conservative tee shots on this hole, especially with it being so early on in the round.
Hole 3: Par 5 - 558 yards
The perfect risk-reward hole. A relatively simple tee shot awaits the players with the majority choosing the hit the driver. Right is not the place to be due to water hazards and thick rough. Anything down the left will feed to the centre and if pitched directly in the middle it will gather extra distance due to the downhill slopes, making the second shot much easier and accessible. A big mistake would be landing in the bunker just short of the green because of its cavernous link personality.
Hole 4: Par 4 - 486 yards
A long, tough par-4 is next for the players. A driver is imperative off the tee for this one to make the second shot as easy as possible. Being able to dictate the spin using a mid-high iron for the approach shot is crucial. Two bunkers protect the fairway either side of a popular landing spot, 290 and 330 yards respectively. It’s vital that the players avoid this as making birdies from there will prove impossible. The green is quite inviting as it slopes from back to front but if you misjudge the slopes, it makes two putting from out of position pretty tricky.
Hole 5: Par 4 - 405 yards
This par-4 is one of the easiest on the course. Relatively short without any notable hazards, it’s one where the players really need to take advantage of. Four bunkers hog the left-hand side of the green but the players really shouldn’t need to worry about these.
Hole 6: Par 4 - 380 yards
A shorter par-4 is next and just as equally straightforward. The green is 50 yards long and if the pin is located at the front, the players will feel confident enough they can drive it. However, if the approach shot lands at the back of the green, it will be an extremely treacherous putt coming down the hill.
Hole 7: Par 4 - 457 yards
From this hole onwards, there are no easy holes. No hazards or bunkers are in play but it’s a very tricky tee shot due to the varying slopes. A driver is required to leave an easier and much shorter approach shot in. The second shot will most likely be from a down-slope and if the flag is at the front, the golfers will need to be tactical.
Hole 8: Par 3 - 208 yards
The elevated tee that the players will be hitting from can prove extremely problematic. The wind will be in the faces of our players because of this elevation but will change when they reach the green. From the green’s perspective, there are various hidden slopes and burrows so they will need to be delicate with their chipping and putting.
Hole 9: Par 5 - 592 yards
An absolute monster of a hole. The extra length off the tee because of its elevation will be equalled out by the wind into face. Anything left will slope into the water so the players need to be extra careful that they’re not over greedy. The approach shot on to the green could prove costly. A very narrow, double-tiered green awaits and harsh slopes either side make it a precarious hole.
Hole 10: Par 4 - 375 yards
The players welcome the back nine with another short par-4. Distance is crucial on this hole. Water on the left and rough on the right makes it vital to get the tee shot right, even if it’s just with a 3 wood or less. The competitors will approach towards an elevated green and it’s even more important that they have done their homework because the green slopes from back to front (not that they can see from down there).
Hole 11: Par 3 - 178 yards
A signature hole on this course. A full tee shot over the water makes it extremely entertaining for the spectators. The two bunkers behind the green set up a frightening pitch back towards the water.
Hole 12: Par 4 - 433 yards
This tee shot is extremely testing. Bunkers on the left and right of a narrow fairway will probably force the players to hit an iron off the tee and play slightly safer. Anything far right is unplayable. More slopes await the players on the fairway and rough.
Hole 13: Par 4 - 415 yards
The water on the right-hand side of the fairway shouldn’t be in play for the pros. Position off the tee is key and you will see most players leave themselves a longer approach shot in because of the simplicity of the green. A pin that’s at the front of the green will bring the water into play.
Hole 14: Par 5 - 544 yards
The tough part of this comes when you are 50 yards away from the green. The bunkers on the left of the green could leave a crafty pitch shot to get to the green. The harsh slope towards the back of the green makes it vitally important to hit position A.
Hole 15: Par 4 - 408 yards
These final four holes are going to be huge. They could make or break a Ryder Cup. The whole of the right-hand side is covered with water. Players won’t hit much more than a hybrid, leaving a lengthier second shot over the water. A front-right pin will be very dangerous.
Hole 16: Par 3 - 177 yards
A hugely intimidating tee shot over the water. The green now has more pin positions due to renovation work in 2016. None of the pins are simple to attack so many of the players would bite your hand off for a par right now.
Hole 17: Par 4 - 480 yards
It’s crucial for the players to hit the fairway on this hole because the pin isn’t accessible from the rough. Hitting the right-hand side is the desired option because of the angle in, whereas, the left-hand side all slopes away from the fairway. Like most of the greens, it slopes from back-to-front making it slightly more accessible. However, anything over the back is in no man’s land.
Hole 18: Par 4 - 471 yards
Usually putting would be the most nerve-racking part of the Ryder Cup. However, all that comes before that on this hole is far more daunting. Water down the left and rough down the right gives the players a problem standing on the tee. The second shot is equally as scary over the water but it’s difficult to miss the green as it’s the second-biggest on the course. Easier said than done when there’s millions of people watching you, however.