After a successful day on the windy, narrow stretches of The Lyon Golf Club, day two of the The 2012 Multi-Nationalities Media Golf Tournament headed to Le Domaine de Saint Clair and The Saint Clair Golf Club in Annonay (Ardèche) – a couple hour bus ride into the Rhône-Alpes.
The Saint Clair Golf Club is tucked away in the heart of the Rhône-Alpes wine country. Of all the facilities we visited during the golf tournament, this was my favorite. Modern, comfortable and intimate, the club offered up pleasant service and excellent food.
But the golf course was the real gem of the venue. Hilly and angular, the 18-hole, tree-lined course is built up against and into the grounds of an ancient castle (now a private residence). The holes are long enough and designed with enough rolling terrain, bunkers and water to offer up fresh challenges.
Unlike Lyon, the Saint Clair Golf Club doesn’t have major professional aspirations beyond amusing local club players and resort guests. So, while challenging, it’s a lot more forgiving and more appealing to an average golfer like me. After scouting out the terrain from a patio deck overlooking the course, I mentally prepared for day two of competition.
Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas. The night before teeing off, the Rhône-Alpes region was hit by a string of thunderstorms. Beautiful to watch and wonderful to hear, they didn’t do the course conditions too many favors.
While the lightening cleared off by the following morning, the rain continued – canceling the second round of competition. A few brave (or foolish) souls – including me – did head out to get in as many holes as possible. I was teamed with the German combatant, the Chinese contestant and a local French gentlemen and member of the club.
We only got nine holes in that day before weather and scheduling forced us back to the clubhouse. However, I learned as much about the game that day as I had in a while. The local Frenchman (Francois – really) observed me throughout the day, sensing that I was open to commentary.
He was rough at first, suggesting that my height and bulk meant golf might not be my game. That pissed me off enough to hit some better shots. Once he realized I could hit my five iron as far as the German and Chinese players could hit their drivers, he took more of an interest.
While I obsess on my head positioning and pacing on every swing, he noticed something else for me to worry about out there. FOr years, I’ve struggled against my own strength as it’s often a detriment to control and pacing in a golf swing. While I might be able to take them in a boxing ring, I’ve been beaten by plenty of smaller men on golf courses.
Francois noticed I was opening up right wrist on my swing on occasion – causing a vicious slice that seemed to come out of nowhere. By using my left handed grip to lock out that right wrist, I was able to reign in that slice – at least for a little while. It’s something I’ll be working on for a while.
So, though the second round of competition was rained out and made the first day scores that much more important, I had a successful day picking up some valuable tips that I can carry with me no matter what country I tee up in for a round.
The final day would send us to Evian on the Lake Geneva shoreline for a date with perhaps the most challenging course in all of France – the Evian Masters, home to one of the four majors for women’s golf.