The successful dream of a family of Passionate Champions, a few miles away from Bordeaux-St Emilion
Opened since October 2015 to great applause, the Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club is now ranked 5th among France’s Top courses by Golf Digest, and was already selected in 2015 among the “most anticipated courses” by Golf Magazine USA and Golf World UK.
Golf is part of the family heritage in the Mourgue d’Algue family. The 4th generation is now under way and already over 80 national and international titles have been won on the golf courses. Pioneer and visionary, Gaëtan the father has dedicated his life to the development of golf in France. Among other activities, he has created the most important tournament in continental Europe for over 30 years, the Lancôme Trophy, built tracks such as Arcangues in the Southwest of France, Limère in the Loire Valley and Joyenval near Paris, and published the first worldwide golf guide with Rolex. His Swedish-born wife Cécilia (Perslow), owns one of the greatest women’s amateur career and represented many times both Sweden then France in the World Championship. His son André after an incredible tie with Tiger Woods during an amateur match and, working in developing resorts in California, naturally combined his talent with his father’s when he got back to France. As early as 2002, they searched for exceptional sites for golf course construction. Their idea was to build a most natural and enjoyable layout combined with the “art de vivre” à la française.
At the end of 2003, Gaëtan and André discovered in Gardegan and Tourtirac 252 acres in a valley fringed by centenary oak trees and framed by vineyards and located just 6 miles from the village of Saint Emilion, a UNESCO listed World Heritage of Humanity site. They fell in love with this wonderful property, so well suited for the construction of a golf course, not far from the Tower where Michel de Montaigne wrote his essays in the 16th century. They then went into producing a proper concept around an 18-hole golf course associated with a hilltop village around the existing English Manor and stone farmhouse. After wide consultation with the inhabitants, they managed to convince the local actors of the economic and touristic scope of such endeavour. To develop such an ambitious project, they turned to the Canadian company, Intrawest. A few years later and after the subprime crisis, they got the opportunity to buy back the whole project and to build one of the best playing fields in Europe.
The choice of the American architect, Tom Doak, listed among the Best 5 in the world, played a big part in reaching that goal. With already 5 courses in the Top 100 in the world out of 30 courses so far, his genius relies on his distinguished talent to propose fun and strategic courses for all types of golfers. Associated with a true love for nature, his layouts also blend perfectly into the landscape.
Gradually the family team expanded with Philippine, André’s wife, granddaughter of Bordeaux wine owners, Junior and College French Champion, now head of marketing is deeply rooted in this beautiful region. As for Kristel, Gaëtan’s daughter and André’s sister, the only individual French winner of the NCAA in the United States, and former Ladies European Tour player with one win on Tour; she brings her communication skills along with her input into professional and amateur golf. Fabian, the eldest brother, adds his international finance abilities in order to complete this family team. And the mother, Cécilia who probably holds one of the most eloquent French amateur records, brings a unique vision of the women’s game on architecture.
The golf course construction lasted over four years to achieve a most conclusive and eco-responsible result. For the first time in France, two major challenges were to be faced: -the construction of 7 acres of lakes has enabled the watering of the course exclusively with the rainfalls and sound water consumption, -the choice to plant fescue grass in a hotter climate than expected. Its low water and pesticides consumption along with its slow growing process were determinant factors. The use of hybrid mowing machines was also most innovative. With a dozen greenkeepers in the long term, headed by a highly qualified superintendent playing off 3-handicap, the level of upkeep is very demanding. After two and a half years, the quality of the course and its sustainability are now unanimously recognized with a course among the best in the country and already with 200 members.
Today, the Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club is a true asset for the region as well as for the business activity. A fabulous tool for local companies, specific conditions are available to discover this magnificent golf course and its infrastructure.
Continuously driven by the development of golf in France, the Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club naturally joined forces with golf du Médoc in order to create the “Bordeaux Signature Golf Pass”; a ticket to discover three exceptional golf courses, all ranked among the top 10 courses in France, a few miles away from Bordeaux, creating an unprecedented golfing and touristic destination (www.signaturegolfdestination.com).
Gaëtan Mourgue d’Algue likes to remind that golf can be played from 7 to 77 years old (even older now) and André likes to add that this course is the achievement of a family dream but also the underlying of all the aspects of this wonderful sport.
Kristel Mourgue d'Algue
Note: The Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club is highly regarded by The Travelling Golfer, and rated as a 'must play' for golfers travelling to France. The Golf and wine experience in Bordeaux and Saint Emilion is world class
The Travelling Golfer