In The News
Le Golf National to host 2018 Ryder Cup
Houston, Texas—Golf enthusiasts in France are in high spirits following the recent announcement that the coveted 2018 Ryder Cup will take place at Le Golf National Albatross Course. Perhaps the most profoundly contested event in 21st century golf, the Ryder Cup venue was the subject of serious contention among European rivals including Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands.
Le Golf National, headquarters of the French Golf Federation (Federation Francaise de golf – FFG), was the best-known course of the five under consideration, and has been the setting for all but two French Opens in the past two decades.
That the spectacular stadium-style course, designed by Hubert Chesneau, von Hagge Design Associates (now known as von Hagge, Smelek and Baril), and Pierre Thevenin, earned the winning bid was not the least bit surprising as the Albatross Course is considered one of the best in the world. This is true not only for golfers but for spectators, as it can accommodate crowds of 70,000 or more with its finishing holes which are particularly suited for the drama of match-play in front of deep galleries.
Correspondingly, there was strong backing by the French government. President Nicolas Sarkozy made it a priority to support French sports this decade, including the European Championship soccer in 2016 and Winter Olympics in 2018. “This success showcases all the French expertise in organizing the biggest international competitions,” said Charles Beigbeder, leader of the Annecy, France Winter Olympics bid. “It enhances France's capacity to host big events and contributes to the influence of French athletes and sport in general.”
Additionally, Rick Baril of the von Hagge team describes it this way: “We designed it with the vision that one day it could, indeed, host the Ryder Cup! 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.”
“When it opened in October 1990, European Golf magazine described Le Golf National as “one of the most surprising golf courses of the 21st century, saying that the unique nature comes from its topography. “The course achieves an impressive feat, that of skillfully combining the best of golf architecture to create a golf course that combines a traditional feel with a modern sophistication in design.”
Hubert Chesneau (director of development for FFG) deserves special credit for first imagining this ambitious project, then coordinating the design and construction, and finally mentoring it for all these years.
It was due to the importance and visibility of this undertaking that the FFG commissioned von Hagge Design Associates (vHS&B) to assist in the planning and design of the tournament course. Of course,” Baril said, “since we provided the routing of the golf course and were intimately involved in the detailed design of the golf course and its dramatic stadium setting, we could not be more ecstatic about the announcement. I know Mr. von Hagge 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!
“Looking back through the design documents and communications between the von Hagge team and Hubert Chesneau and Pierre Thevenin brought back a lot of good memories. Hopefully, the honor of hosting the Ryder Cup will showcase Le Golf National as an extraordinary achievement, and highlight the design collaboration between Chesneau, vHS&B and Thevenin. We are proud this course has been judged worthy of hosting this prominent event, against significant competition.”
Le Golf National is located in the flatland region of Guyancourt, surrounding Chateau of Versailles, the historic home of Louis XIV. Its amazing 18-hole course was crafted with rippling fairways dotted by countless bunkers, water hazards, fescue roughs, and tree obstacles. Stretching nearly 7,000 yards, the Albatross championship course designed in the late 1980s is an excellent test of a golfer's versatility. “We knew it was destined to become home to the French Open as well as a center for both national and international championships,” Baril said.
According to many, it's the toughest test of golf in the Paris region, providing a unique experience of links-target golf, and challenging even the most experienced golfers with their correct choice of clubs and shot-making capabilities. BonjourlaFrance.com describes Albatross as “a real gem of a French golf course where good course management is the key to a successful round. Combining the traditional feel of a links with the modern features of target golf, it is now the host of the French Open and offers a truly memorable 18 holes.” They continue, “The greens are the biggest challenge as they have been expertly shaped around water features and sprinkled with bunkers. This track requires you to use every club in your bag.”
With more than 400,000 members of the French golf federation agreeing to financially support Le Golf National's bid for the Ryder Cup, and the commitment to build 100 new six-and-nine-hole urban courses, the French federation developed a strategic plan that ultimately prevailed. European Ryder Cup director, Richard Hills, praised the French bid, saying it stands out for a number of reasons.
“Le Golf National is a truly outstanding golf course, providing excellent spectator viewing and the promise of spectacular climaxes to the matches. Transportation, logistical and infrastructure plans are also of the highest quality, and there is no doubt that the 2018 Cup will be memorable and dramatic, and will be enjoyed by thousands of golf fans.”
Ryder Cup committee president, Pascal Grizot, enthusiastically agrees that this is a major achievement for France. “The decision is a real honor for our country, the French Golf Federation and all the public and private partners who have supported the bid. Above all, it is a huge accolade for all French golfers who have contributed to this project.
- TELEXES: FFG Announces Consultant and FFG Describes Details of von Hagge Involvement
- Von Hagge Offices Burn to Ground
- Letter of Agreement between von Hagge Design Associates and FFG
- Final Four Holes Sketch
- Course Photos
- Opening Day
The Ryder Cup Logo is trademarked and owned by The Professional Golfers' Association of America, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Remembering Robert von Hagge
April 27, 1927-October 16, 2010
HOUSTON, TX – Robert von Hagge passed away Saturday, October 16, 2010 at the age of 83, with his wife Greta at his side when he peacefully slipped away.
A Celebration of Robert von Hagge's Life event was held at Northgate Country Club, Saturday October 23, 2010. A private burial was held prior to the service at Forest Park, The Woodlands.
The family requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial /honor donations be made to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (online at www.mdanderson.org, by mail to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, PO Box 4486, Houston, Texas 77210, or by way of phone 713-792-3450). To leave a written tribute in memory of Robert visit www.forestparkthewoodlands.com.
Robert’s professional life stretched from his early teen years as a caddy to international fame as a master golf course designer and architect. During his fascinating career, he vaulted to the top ranks of golf course design and architecture, became a dominant force in the European and Mexican golf world, and moved effortlessly into golf design throughout the world – arguably one of the most influential course designers in the history of golf.
von Hagge, was literally born and raised on a golf course, and had worked as a caddy, a shop boy (cleaning and repairing golf clubs), a caddy master, a golf course maintenance crewman, an assistant greens superintendent, assistant golf professional, and commercial illustrator for sporting magazines before his 17th birthday. After high school, he attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis and Purdue University Agriculture School, majoring in landscape architecture.
The son of noted course designer and developer Ben von Hagge, who worked briefly with none other than Donald Ross in the 1920s, Chicago-born (Robert) von Hagge learned the trade from his mentor, design legend Dick Wilson, when Wilson, one of America's foremost golf course architects, employed him in 1955 as an apprentice golf course designer. By 1959, he was being recognized within the profession as a principal designer with the Wilson firm. By the year's end in 1962, he had been involved in all or part of the design of 40 golf courses in the U.S. and the Caribbean and four foreign countries. Late that same year, he resigned his affiliation with the Dick Wilson Company in order to start his own firm. Von Hagge was the last living associate from the original post-war architect Dick Wilson's organization
During his six plus decades as a master golf course designer, von Hagge created some of the world's most outstanding and award-winning courses, and has been responsible for the design, re-design, or partial design of more than 250 courses in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and 16 foreign countries. At one time he had worldwide offices ranging from South Florida and California to Australia, before he decided to move his headquarters to The Woodlands.
He and his partners Mike Smelek and Rick Baril have created internationally-recognized courses in more than 50 cities including Paris, Milan, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Mexico City, Sydney, Tokyo, Madrid, and Genoa. In the U. S. they have courses in Miami, Philadelphia, Long Island, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Naples, Ft. Myers, Phoenix, Tampa, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and literally dozens more. Their courses have received more than 500 awards of distinction.
Les Bordes, set in the middle of the Loire Valley in France and ranked as the Number 1 golf course in Europe, is considered von Hagge's piece de resistance. According to Top 100 Golf Courses website, “It's been said that when he designed this beast he was at his most wickedly creative” … and [the course] “is a supreme challenge.”
Golf writer for PerryGolf.com said, “Robert Von Hagge earns top honors for Les Bordes, the country's premier layout since it opened in 1986. ... Les Bordes is king because it is a truly total experience … von Hagge's masterpiece.”
As Founder and Senior Partner/Architect of von Hagge, Smelek and Baril, he actively maintained hands-on involvement in the creation of their distinctive designs all over the world even in his early eighties. Of course he wasn’t racking up the air miles to the extent he used to- something he said he regretted. “I miss a lot of the dirt, the rain and the mud, squeezing something out of primitive circumstances.”
For decades his name has been synonymous with “premier global golf course architect.” Always following his own philosophy propelled him into greatness – “Every shot situation should be one where the golfer walks up to the ball and has his breath taken away. It should be a ritual experience.”
He often spoke warmly of his partners of more than a quarter of a century. “Both Mike and Rick have been a driving force behind the creation of many major projects throughout the world and largely responsible for the creation of some of the world's finest golfing experiences.”
“I am personally grateful for the obvious creative talent and responsible dedication that is a part of the very fiber that these two outstanding men bring to the team. I am simultaneously proud and delighted that we are all on the same company design team, one which they will someday inherit along with its history, credentials and worldwide reputation; a reputation which they both have so richly contributed to over the past several years.
Cindy LaCrosse Earns First Tour Victory at El Tigre
Article Courtesy of Duramed FUTURES Tour
NUEVO VALLARTA, NAYARIT, MEXICO, March 28, 2010 - A year ago this time, Cindy LaCrosse was taking her final swings as a collegiate player at the University of Louisville and dreaming about her life as a pro. Today, the Floridian carded a bogey-free round of 5-under 68 to win her first title on the Duramed FUTURES Tour at the $150,000 Riviera Nayarit Challenge.
LaCrosse posted rounds of 70-71-68 to win at 10-under 209, one shot better than Jennie Lee (72) of Henderson, Nevada at 210 (-9), and two strokes ahead of rookie Chelsea Curtis (69) of New Seabury, Massachusetts, at 8-under 211 in the Tour's second tournament of the season and its first full-field international event.
"It feels amazing," said LaCrosse, 22, of Tampa, Florida, who charged from three shots back to catch Lee. "Last year, I came out of college and got into contention a few times, but just couldn't get the last round right. What feels great today is to get into contention and to finally close with a good round."
For most of today's final round on the 6,433-yard El Tigre Golf & Country Club, Lee, a former Duke University All-American, held at least a two-shot lead and appeared to be building momentum at the nine-hole turn. Lee rolled in a 10 footer for birdie on the third hole, and added another birdie on No. 7 to lead LaCrosse by three shots.
But playing two groups ahead was Curtis, the hard-charging first-year pro out of Georgetown University, who carded birdies on holes 4, 5, 6, and 9, and then cut Lee's lead to only one shot with another birdie on hole No. 10. Curtis took advantage of the par-73 course's longer holes, making birdie on the first four par-five holes.
"The par-5s are where it's at on this course," said Curtis, 22, who hit 14 greens in regulation today. "It's all about your drives and wedge shots."
The rookie had three birdie chances on the back nine, but could not get her putts to fall. On the 18th, her approach sailed into the right greenside bunker, and then rolled 15 feet past the cup on her shot from the sand. Curtis took bogey, but knew going into the final hole that she had to give it a rip if she wanted to try to catch the leader.
"I had a feeling that 10 under would be the number to beat and I knew, at one point, that I was tied for the lead," said Curtis, a two-time winner at Georgetown. "I'm not here to come in second, so I went for the pin on 18, and just didn't get it."
The back nine came down to a duel between LaCrosse and Lee, playing in the same pairing. Lee had put together identical bogey-free rounds of 69 in the first two days and entered today's final round feeling no letup.
"I peeked at the scoreboard on No. 9 and just told myself to keep doing what I was doing," said Lee, 23, a former U.S. Curtis Cup Team member. "I also thought about playing more conservatively on the back nine because the wind was picking up and there's more water back there."
Lee stiffed her approach shot to two feet on the 10th hole for birdie and moved to a two-stroke lead over LaCrosse. But then she gave back two shots with bogeys on holes 11 and 12 to drop into a three-way tie with Curtis and LaCrosse at 9 under after LaCrosse rolled in birdies from eight feet and 20 feet on holes 14 and 15, respectively.
LaCrosse was picking up speed and Lee was starting to wobble late in the round. But the turning point for the Florida pro came on No. 16, a hole that had proved to be her nemesis all week. On Friday, LaCrosse had double-bogeyed the 16th, and on Saturday, she posted a bogey. To keep her tee shot in play today, she opted for a hybrid club. Her tee shot landed in a small ditch in the fairway and LaCrosse watched in dismay as her approach shot once again sailed over the green, landing in a back bunker. It was a treacherous lie from the sand to a downhill green bordered by water, but LaCrosse stepped up and hit it to one foot to save par.
"It was the bunker shot of my life," she said.
When Lee three-putted from 30 feet on the 17th for bogey, the door again swung open for LaCrosse. This time, all she had to do was walk through it to win.
"I was trying to get my hands and arms to stop shaking, and my heart was beating out of my chest," said LaCrosse, a rookie 2010 LPGA Tour member who two-putted for par and the win. "It's good to know what it feels like to win out here. It's good to know I've accomplished what I've been thinking about doing."
And as her friends doused the quiet player with champagne on the 18th green in the tropical sunshine of this coastal Mexican paradise, LaCrosse hugged her fellow contestants, picked up her golf bag crowned by her Louisville Cardinals head cover and headed to the scoring tent to sign the scorecard for her first win on the developmental tour. In less than a year, a dream had come true.
For scores and more information, visit duramedfuturestour.com.
Les Bordes Named #1 in Europe by Golf World
Once again Les Bordes, has been rated #1 in all of Europe. This time by Golf World magazine in its prestigious "Top 100 Euro Courses" issue," which by most accounts is the definitive list of Europe's best courses.
According to the full article which accompanies the annual list, Les Bordes "should be unquestionably, undeniably in anyone's top-five in the world.
Stensballegaard Golf, Denmark
Stensballegaard is an old mansion from 1692, and has since 1928 been in the possession of the noble family Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, who are the founders and owners of the golf course and club.
Construction began in April 2007 and by October same year almost 27 holes and a 6 holes par-3 course were in shape, where 9 holes and the practice range were grassed. Due to the tough Scandinavian winter, construction can't take place from November, so in early April this year, the final construction of the course will begin, and by May the next 9 holes and the par-3 course should be grassed. Though the golf season in Denmark is likewise only from April-October, the sun rises in the summer at 4 am, and sets at 11 pm.
In the spring 2009 the club house and 18 holes will be open to the members of this "private club", and the final 9 holes should be playable by the summer. Eventually the golf club will be open to green-fee players, and the family Ahlefeldt-Laurvig intends to host some international events.
Due to short golfing season, the members of Stensballegaard Golf can practice in the indoor facilities during the winter.
Rick Baril is the chief architect on Stensballegaard Golf and along with Superintendent Jim Shirley (from Les Bordes, France) and Shaper Gus Grantham, he has created something special. Count Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, founding chairman of Stensballegaard Golf: "von Hagge, Smelek and Baril have done a magnificent job at Stensballegaard, and it has been an outstanding pleasure to work closely with Rick Baril and in the process get to know both Robert von Hagge and Mike Smelek. Stensballegaard Golf will without doubt be one of Denmark's if not one of Europe's best golf course. We would at this stage unreservedly recommend this extraordinary team to any one valuing their capabilities".Download more details
www.stensballegaardgolf.dk (not in English yet)
Von Hagge, Smelek & Baril Ranked One of Top Course Designers in Mexico
The name von Hagge, Smelek and Baril stands right at the top of the list of designers of provocative golf courses sprinkled throughout Mexico. And, when the results of the 2006 Golf Course Survey of architects, developers, managers, course professionals and others poured in, they identified not only Mexico’s best courses, but also Mexico’s most distinguished golf course architects. Von Hagge, Smelek & Baril took top honors by designing 14 of the top 30 Mexico golf courses. We also captured the distinctive honor of being placed in the “Best Golf Course Architects in Mexico” category.
Atchafalaya at Idlewild Gains National Recognition
Featured in Golf Digest’s “2006 Best New” issue, the vHS&B designed Atchafalaya at Idlewild course gained national recognition as number 5 in best new public golf courses. Another distinctive tribute was the Audubon Golf Trail’s selection of the course as its newest member beginning January, 2007.
Following the two exclusive awards of 2007, the course captured the number 3 position in the 2007 Golfweek’s Best Courses in Louisiana, meeting the rating criteria with ease. Selection guidelines included such elements as “ease and intimacy of routing – the extent to which the sequence of holes follows natural contours and unfolds in an unforced manner.”
El Paraiso Golf Club, Mexico
Construction recently commenced on the vHS&B designed 18-hole golf course for El Paraíso Golf Club. The new residential country club development in Barra del Tordo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, is located about two hours drive north of the Gulf Coast City of Tampico. The property consists of rolling, strongly vegetated terrain and is blessed with numerous hard wood trees. The pristine San Rafael River surrounds three sides of the property and El Paraíso is only ten minutes from one of Mexico’s most beautiful unspoiled gulf coast beaches. This property was meant to have a golf course because the natural terrain has all the variables and desirable opportunities necessary for vHS&B to create a world-class presentation.
El Paraiso is an hour and ten minutes north of the City of Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Nestled at the base of the Maratines Mountain Range and fronting the beautiful San Gabriel River, this oasis of natural beauty dons a fitting name “The Paradise”. It offers 3.1 miles of river frontage for country town homes with access to the Gulf of Mexico. An exclusive boutique cabana Hotel with excellent service, horseback riding trails, and a championship 18 hole golf course are among several of the outstanding amenities offered at this naturally stunning sanctuary of beauty.
The practice range and the first nine holes are currently under construction and are due to be completed by the summer of 2008. Commencement of construction for the second nine holes will begin in tandem with the completion of the first nine.
Stillwater at Eagle Ridge Golf Community, Tennessee
Once again, vHS&B teams up with Cleveland, Ohio developers/builders D. J. Keehan and Nick Rossi (Eagle Ridge Investments, LLC), home of charismatic country music star Tanya Tucker. Tucker’s 600 acre property with its rolling hills and dramatic ravines are ideally suited for great golf course terrain. Located near the communities of Arrington and Franklin, Tennessee (about 20 minutes from Nashville) the mature forests punctuated with occasional meadows offer beautiful vistas to the surrounding farms and ranches. The large southern plantation style home at the top of a hill will be renovated to serve as the clubhouse in order to obtain a commanding view of the entire community.
The golf course design and rating attracts the serious golfer who wants to play an “upscale” course with country club amenities. The use of sand, water, and terrain variations will prove to deliver a memorable golf experience. Upon completion, the 18-hole golf course and practice academy will meander though a 500-unit subdivision of moderate to upscale single-family residences. Stillwater is expected to break ground in spring 2008.
Lyngbygaard Golf Center, Denmark
Construction began in April 2007 on the 27 hole Lyngbygaard Golf Center in Aarhus, Denmark. Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark, located in Jutland. Golf’s growing popularity is creating a need for additional golf courses, especially near populated areas. Lyngbygaard Golf Center will be a private club with approximately 1,000 members.
The entitlement process has been particularly difficult in this highly protected area. The project manager, Flemming Vennekilde has been diligently working through approvals to keep the project on schedule.
During the summer work season, we were able to complete the practice range and 9 holes. This winter clearing and earthmoving operations will continue (weather permitting) on the second part of the project. The schedule is to complete all 27 holes by the fall of 2008.
Anfi Tauro, Gran Canaria, Spain
Anfi Tauro Golf Course has been a monumental undertaking. It has been more than 10 years since we were commissioned to design this golf course. The brain child of renowned Norwegian industrialist Byorn Lyng, Anfi Tauro GC is considered the most ambitious golf course project ever developed in Europe, requiring earthmoving in excess of 3 million cubic meters. A significant portion of the site was comprised of rock, and a complex earthmoving and soil management program was required to create the golf course and, according to Sr. Lyng’s wishes, provide ocean views to every dwelling unit.
The golf course is the centerpiece of a 3,000 unit resort, the largest master planned resort in Gran Canaria. When the entire project is complete, there will be three hotels, a marina, commercial center, and 500 single family homes.
Any undertaking lasting more than a decade, has many high points and low points. Sr. Lyng was able to appreciate most of the golf course before passing away in October 2006. His ambitious plan and vision for Anfi Tauro has become the charge of his heirs, associates and business partners—it is rewarding to see this dream play out. The first nine holes of the championship golf course opened for play Nov. 3, 2006. The second nine holes are scheduled to open for play sometime in December 2007.