The new owners of Les Bordes–the principals of European private equity firm RoundShield and a few outside partners–have spent two years invigorating new life into France’s famed Loire Valley region through the historic estate and globally recognized golf club.
Embraced by nature, a sense of community, and spread across 1,400 acres of mythical Sologne Forest, substantial investment since 2018 has created an environment for fun and adventure for families at Les Bordes. Located a 90-minute drive from Paris, the Loire Valley is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage region famous for its chateaux, medieval towns, fine wine, gastronomy, and breath-taking landscape.
New family facilities have been delivered across the estate including a natural swimming lake with a white sand beach, enhanced equestrian facilities, boating lakes, archery, fishing, cycle, and electric quad paths, and a new tennis center. Younger family members can experience a petting farm, go-kart track, pony riding, and adventure playgrounds, with a kids’ club, ice-cream shop, and zip lines coming this winter.
Les Bordes Golf Club is exclusively private and governed separately from the rest of the estate. The opening of its highly anticipated second 18-hole course will take place this summer. Named the New Course, it was created by globally acclaimed golf architect Gil Hanse, who authored world top-100 courses Castle Stuart and Ohoopee Match Club as well as the 2016 Rio Olympic Course. The New Course is Hanse’s first project in continental Europe.
Lauded for his restoration work, including two of the next three U.S. Open venues–The Country Club and The Los Angeles Country Club–Hanse has already completed work on an accompanying 10-hole short course at Les Bordes, the Wild Piglet.
The recently developed new golf courses join the existing Old Course, to provide members with a diverse yet complementary array of playing options. Commissioned by Baron Marcel Bich in 1987, the Old Course is one of Europe’s premier golf courses. A tree-lined, par-72 course measuring more than 7,000 yards, it weaves through the Sologne Forest, intertwined with a stunning complex of lakes that offer a sublimely serene setting.
This course was designed by the late Robert von Hagge, whose award-winning portfolio includes more than 100 courses around the globe; with the Old Course widely considered to be his masterpiece. The design of the course represents the epitome of heroic golf architecture, with exciting risk/reward decisions to be made throughout. Much like his later effort at Le Golf National, host of the highly successful 2018 Ryder Cup, the Old Course is perfectly suited to the match play format and provides a stage for the utmost in spirited competition amongst the Golf Club membership.
Throughout its history, the Old Course has been perennially ranked amongst the top five courses in continental Europe and has often been regarded as one of the most difficult courses in the world. Whilst the challenge of the course is still quite formidable from the back tees, recent improvements have made the course more playable and multi-dimensional. Overly penal rough and trees encroaching on the lines of play have been removed, resulting in a more enjoyable and strategically compelling course presentation. In addition, the implementation of a new maintenance program is already yielding much firmer conditions that promote the ground game to a greater extent and make the length of the course less impactful.
As a result of these developments, the global allure of Les Bordes Golf Club is greater than ever. Formed in August 2019, it is accessible to members only and their guests, and includes approximately 140 current members.
Additionally, leading London-based architects Michaelis Boyd have completed a full renovation of the clubhouse and 24 of the 39 member cottages, while work on a new member gym, sports bar, mini-spa, and private lounge and games room, including a golf simulator, is to be completed for March 2021.
“We are blessed with a beautiful site in one of the most stunning and culturally-rich areas of France, 90 minutes south of Paris,” said Driss Benkirane, founder of RoundShield and an avid 6-handicap golfer. “With my fellow owners, a group which includes my co-founder and a handful of other long-dated partners, we aim to create the pre-eminent European golf club and to build a relaxed and fun-filled community for all members of the family – golfers and non-golfers, adults and children alike.”
Near-term plans include the announced partnership with Six Senses for the transformation of the on-site 19th century ‘Chateau Bel Air’ into an 88-key luxury hotel and spa, the creation of a community village square with restaurants, shops, a farmer’s market, and an outdoor amphitheater centered around the estate’s 13th-century priory, and a variety of residential homes also designed by Michaelis Boyd, half of which have already been reserved by golf club members prior to a mid-year release to market.
Interesting photos from the RBC Heritage – Part 3
The first round of the RBC Heritage gets underway today and with that, we have an unprecedented part 3 of our most interesting pictures from the event. As a refresher, the field of 134 is battleing on the tight treeline Pete Dye designed course, for the $7.1 million purse with $1.28 million going to the winner.
In part one of this week’s “most interesting photos”, we covered putters, for part two we covered some of the action around the course, and for part 3 we have a little bit of both.
Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.
Snedeker with that “new driver” look
The 2012 FedEx Cup champ is quietly one of the biggest driver testers on tour, and he was looking thirsty at a couple of TaylorMade SIM2 drivers on the range. Also noted his Miura CB-301 irons.
Build your own training aid
Path board – check, digital level – check, alignment rod – check, extra club – check. Why spend all kinds of money when you can just build your own simple training aid?
Its armlock – but backward
Matt Kuchar brought the arm-lock style to the PGA Tour and it looks like he might be changing course again since he was spotted testing a “reverse” arm-lock Bettinardi on the practice green of Harbour Town links. This is a reverse style because the grip rests against the trailing arm versus the lead one.
Maybe graphite is the new steel
We’re not sure whose caddie this is, but the interesting thing in this photo is the graphite shaft in the putter. Although Bryson wasn’t the first, he certainly has opened the door for more players testing and putting ultra-stiff graphite shafts into their putters for stability.
Si Woo, and Charles Howell talking putters
Everyone knows Charles Howell loves to talk gear, and here he is chatting with Si Woo Kim about a couple of putters—just imagine the nerd level conversation being had.
Na continues to test the new Callaway Epic
Kevin Na is one of the last holdouts on tour with an original Epic driver in the bag, and again this week we spotted him testing one of the new Epic Speed drivers. Considering his chances this week based on the course length, it will be interesting to see if he officially made the switch.
Maverick’s unique Toulon
Maverick McNealy’s slant-neck San Diego has a very different shape from the retail version and looks to be both longer heel to toe and also shallower—it reminds this writer of the classic Ping Anser 4.
Davis Love III has a full bag of familiar sticks
Davis Love has won the RBC Heritage 5 times (yes, 5) and this past champion has a full bag of Titleist gear including 718 AP2s and SM8 Vokey wedges. You can get all his full WITB here: Davis Love III WITB RBC Heritage
Who has 2 thumbs and loves to test putter? Matt Wallace
Matt Wallace was working with a number of Toulon putters Tuesday, and although they all had something a little different to offer, the one thing that stayed the same is his preferred 2-Thumb grip.
The grind doesn’t stop for Furyk
Did you know Jim Furyk is 3rd all-time on the PGA Tour career money list with over 71 million buckeroos banked. Crazy right? So imagine the drive it takes to continue to work your butt off week in and week out on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour to find every edge.
Speaking of edge, Jim was seen on the range working with Callaway tour reps on a Callaway Epic Speed triple diamond to hopefully gain a few mph of ball speed. Gotta respect the grind.
Morning 9: Sports book cometh to TPC Scottsdale | Zalatoris’ unique position
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. A smattering of odds and ends this morning as the golf mediaverse nurses its collective Masters hangover.
1. A sports book is coming to TPC Scottsdale
David Purdum at ESPN…“The PGA Tour is putting a retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, one of golf’s most raucous environments.”
- “The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that DraftKings will operate the first-of-its-kind sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale and become the exclusive sports betting partner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.”
- “Three locations at TPC Scottsdale are being discussed for the “19th hole” sportsbook, which will be open year-round and include in-person betting windows. The goal is to open the sportsbook by the Super Bowl in 2023.”
2. Zalatoris’ unique position
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…“Despite all the heady stuff going on in his world, Zalatoris remains level-headed. His meteoric rise – he was ranked 1,514th in the Official World Golf Ranking in April of 2019, was 483rd in April of 2020 and now rests at 27th after nearly becoming the first rookie to win the Masters in 42 years – hasn’t changed his good nature and calm demeanor.”
- “He’s still the same guy who was Monday qualifying for Korn Ferry Tour events two years ago, the same guy who won his lone pro title at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes on the Korn Ferry Tour last July.”
- “Then again, he’s not the same guy inside the ropes and he might just be on the USA Ryder Cup team. Since winning in Colorado, he’s made 22 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour and finished in the top-10 10 times and the top-25 18 times. He tied for sixth in the U.S. Open and fell one shot shy of Hideki Matsuyama in the Masters – the only two majors he’s played as a pro.”
3. More thoughts on the possible coming surge in golf, equipment sales in Japan
Mike Stachura for Golf Digest…“Because as challenging as closing the deal on becoming the first Japanese-born male golfer to win a major championship clearly was during Sunday’s frenetic finish, now the shy, workman-like Matsuyama stands at the forefront of what one long-time Japanese golf business observer called “an epoch-making event.” Japan may comfortably stand as the world’s second largest golf market, accounting for a fifth of the global golf business all by itself, but it is long removed from the country’s golf boom of the late 1980s and ’90s. With the last decade seeing flat revenues and declining play and players, Matsuyama’s win is an opportunity to inject new life in a nation that has been waiting for a golf moment like this for more than half a century.
- …”Over the last 25 years, the number of golfers has decreased by nearly half, from more than 12 million to now around 6.5 million. The country’s 2,500 golf courses of a generation ago, while likely overbuilt, have seen several hundred shuttered. Sales of golf gear in Japan still account for well more than $2 billion annually, but those numbers have largely been unchanged for the last decade. According to the World Golf Report, a joint research project of the global golf business produced by Golf Datatech and the Yano Research Institute in Japan, Japan accounts for 22 percent of the world’s golf economy, second to the U.S. at 45 percent. Still, golf equipment sales, which rebounded somewhat in the second half of 2020, finished the year down 5 percent, and over the last five years, they are down 1 percent while worldwide sales were up 11 percent.”
4. Boo’s comeback bid
Brian Wacker for Golf Digest…”Boo Weekley hit a small bucket of balls on a driving range last week, yellow ones to be precise. He was wearing a mesh trucker’s cap, wrinkled tan shorts and a faded, loose-fitting gray t-shirt with the image of a large deer head and a tree screened on the back between the words “Save a tree, Harvest a buck…”
- “In January, Weekley underwent surgery to have his left hip replaced after it was discovered that the cartilage that serves as a cushion between the hip socket and the femur, or thigh bone, had worn out, leaving the two bones in excruciating contact with one another. Had it been a decade ago, it would have been career over for the former three-time PGA Tour winner. Advances in modern medicine being what they are, the man born Thomas Brent and nicknamed after a fictional character (Yogi Bear’s sidekick Boo-Boo) instead has a chance to author one final chapter in a career that most would find hard to believe.”
5. LPGA hoodie
Brittany Romano for Golf Digest…“Piggybacking off the WNBA’s wildly popular logo hoodie launched last fall, Michelle Wie has teamed up with the LPGA to release a golf version that is expected to create a lot of buzz. The tie-dye hoodie officially launches next week, but we got a sneak peek of the LPGA logo sweatshirt when Warriors guard Damion Lee was seen wearing it while traveling. The image was tweeted by the LPGA Twitter account and the hoodie almost instantly sold out on the LPGA merchandise site. The hoodie is expected to be restocked over the weekend”
6. Matsuyama’s pre-Masters putter change
Our piece for PGATour.com…”As Hideki Matsuyama brushed in his winning putt at Augusta National on Sunday evening, the setting Georgia sun glistened off his 2012 Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Tour Prototype as he carried the wand with him off the famed Georgia course’s 18th green.”
- “While most viewers who have seen the Masters champion in action over the past two years likely assumed from the finish and shaping it was the same flatstick Matsuyama has been stroking putts with all season, Japan’s first men’s major winner actually only put this particular putter in play at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago.”
- “Matsuyama consulted with Scotty Cameron TOUR rep Drew Page and had a Lamkin Deep-Etched Cord Full Cord installed as well as a stepped putter shaft.”
- “And while Hideki’s exact specs are under lock and key, Page and company dialed in the same loft, lie, and head weight as the Newport 2 GSS Timeless Matsuyama has played since the 2020 BMW Championship.”
7. Simpson’s strengths
Justin Ray of the 15th Club writing for PGATour.com…“While Simpson has flashed strong approach play consistently over the last several seasons, it’s far from the only reason he is among the best players in the world. Simpson essentially does everything well.”
- “Let’s look at the top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total from last season on the PGA TOUR. As you might expect, many players see their biggest advantages come from one, or two, particular sets of skills. For example, Collin Morikawa ranked 14th on the PGA TOUR last season in Strokes Gained: Total. Seventy-two percent of his strokes gained came from approach shots alone. Matsuyama, who ranked 17th in Strokes Gained: Total, also made more than 70% of his gains with his approach play.”
- “On the flipside, Matt Fitzpatrick, who ranked 16th in Strokes Gained: Total, gained 76.5% of his strokes on putts and shots around the green. Patrick Reed followed a similar trend, gaining 70.7% of his strokes in the same manner.”
- “That brings us back to Simpson, and the balance within his game. Of those top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total in 2019-2020, only one player gained more than 40% or more of his strokes on approach shots – and 40% of more of his strokes on putts and shots around the green combined: Simpson.”
8. Billy’s apology for returning club to bag with great authority.
I apologize to Augusta National, the Members of the Club and to the patrons for any conduct that may have crossed the line. I am always trying to improve and do better; as a golfer, husband, father, or as a human being. Thank you @TheMasters for a memorable week!
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) April 11, 2021
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (04/14/21): Callaway Apex TCB irons
At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of rare, limited edition, you need to know who to ask, Callaway TCB irons – the same ones being used by Jon Rahm on the PGA Tour
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Callaway TCB irons
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