France's Le Golf National is a perfect risk-reward venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup

France’s Le Golf National is a perfect risk-reward venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup

Thomas Levet, left, and Jean Van de Velde.
Tom Hevezi/AP

So it’s Paris, then, for the 2018 Ryder Cup. That’s Paris, France. Not Paris, Texas, in case you were wondering. The French will host the matches for the first time and outbid rivals Holland, Portugal, Germany and notably Spain, which had gained late support from those wanting to make a misguided gesture to the memory of Seve Ballesteros.

The course, Le Golf National, is on the outskirts of Paris and opened in 1990 on the land surrounding the Palace of Versailles, once the home of Louis XIV. It is a public, inland-links/target-style course that is regularly ranked among the top five in Continental Europe and it will be the first “proper” classic course to host the Ryder Cup in Europe since Walton Heath, Surrey, in 1981 and Royal Lytham in 1977.

Le Golf National is now the permanent home of the French Open, played since 1906 and the oldest event on the European Tour held outside the UK and Ireland.

The course is dotted with links-style bunkers guarding vast fairways. But there are also water hazards that are commonplace on American-style courses. The players love it, and it will be a perfect risk-reward venue for Ryder Cup match-play drama.

Martin Kaymer was disappointed that Germany failed in its bid but praised the “fantastic golf course” of the French bid, where he won the 2009 French Open. “It’s made for the Ryder Cup,” he said. “It’s great for spectators, especially the last five holes (which are surrounded by mounds).”

Luke Donald said France was the logical choice. “It has a great course there already and great accommodation at the Trianon Palace and the Palace of Versailles,” Donald said. “They can do a lot of fun events down in Paris. There should not be any complaints about the course. It will be a fantastic venue. I would love to be there. I’ll be 40. Hopefully I’m still chugging along.”

Sentimental voters were disappointed that Spain lost out, but the Ryder Cup is all about big business for the European Tour. “Follow the money” is always the best bet when trying to discover the truth hidden behind bidding wars. (See: the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup.) Recent European Ryder Cup history has centered on the deep pockets of Sir Terry Matthews (Celtic Manor), Dr. Michael Smurfit (the K Club), and Jaime Patino (Valderrama). France 2018 had the full backing of the French government. It was a fait accompli. And the right decision.