Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monaco Golf club

Monaco Golf club

When the assistant golf pro, who lives only 30 miles away, in Nice, France, was scheduling an interview to work at The Monaco Golf Club, he asked the manager; “A golf course in Monaco? How do I find it?” And that was our first challenge of the day; finding the course.

Monaco’s sole golf course lays 3000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea, yet only a couple of miles away from the center of town. Narrow switch-back roads ascend dramatically from the seaside to a cliff-hanging locale at the top of Mont Agel approximately 8 driving miles away from the center of Monte Carlo. The golf course is technically in France, but it is owned and operated by the Principality of Monaco. It is the sole golf course in the area and boasts Prince Ranier and the royal family among its famous patrons. There are 500 members in all.

The Monaco Golf Club will celebrate its 100-year anniversary next year, and it is truly a wonder how this course was carved into the mountain in 1911. And only a few changes have been made to its original design by a committee of members.

The front 9 boasts panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Standing on the 5th tee box, one can see Italy in one direction and France in other. And, on a clear day, the views reach Cannes, nearly 50 miles away. Today, I am able to span the entire city of Monte Carlo, some 3000 feet below, with its yacht filled harbor and meandering coastline.There may not be another course in the world where you can see three separate countries on one tee box.

It is 8:00 AM and birds are singing. The grass is covered with dew, and the sun is playing hide and seek behind the mountain, creating exotic, long, shadows from the mountain peaks. Taking in account the severe elevation changes and the deep shadows, a golfer must carefully examine the depth and width of each hole. A golf shot 20 yards into the rough may well send your ball into a different country!
Before you finish the first half of the course, you will have mastered playing the fairways for a convenient roll, sacrificed distance for accuracy, and used a high-lofted wedge onto the many smaller greens. And be sure to calculate your endurance, since most players choose to walk the course.

Be prepared to hold onto your chariot on the back 9 holes, as hole number 12 plunges down the mountain towards the cup. And as you meander back up the remaining 6 golf holes with relative ease, remember to take in the enchanting cliffside villages on hole number 14,15, and 16. Bowled fairways and strategically placed bunkers will probably save you from rolling off the course. And you may even thank a bunker or two. But for the average golfer, an errant shot may be trapped by the heavy brush and hedges that frame the holes.
If you have a fear of heights, hole #16 will sure to send you packing. The green is cloaked in an amphitheatre of rock that hangs cliffside. The visual splendor of this course brings to mind a German word that I have recently learned: Augenschmaus. It means “a feast for the eyes”. And the Monaco Golf Club is certainly one such feast.

If you go:
Length 6341 yards par 71
Cost: 120 euros weekdays and 150 weekends
Website: www.hoteldeparismontecarlo.com
Email: monte-carlo-golf-club@wanadoo.fr