Born in 1987 in the shade of the pines, the La Roche-Posay Golf Club respects nature and the thermal waters that have always made the Viennese city famous. On its flat and technical route, the club has launched an ambitious project, combining conviviality and biodiversity. Good motives to discover the attractions of this course as well as of this region in full expansion.
By Claude Granveaud-Vallat
Traditionally, the water cities have seen their golf courses born at the same time as their thermal baths. The list would be long with courses that are now a hundred years old. But with every tradition, there are exceptions… La Roche-Posay is one of them! If the town in Poitou, on the borders of Vienne, Indre and Indre-et-Loire, developed at the end of the 19th century with the expansion of the spa centre, essentially devoted to skin care, its golf course was only inaugurated in 1987. Until then, the curists as well as the tourists were satisfied to play tennis, to walk on the docks of the Creuse, peaceful tributary of the Vienne flowing under the thousand-year-old walls of the donjon du Connétable, last vestige of a castle of the 11th century, the pride of the city. If in Gallo-Roman times, the town was already renowned for its waters, it is in the 16th century that thermalism developed there, reaching its peak in the middle of the 19th century. The quality of this water, which gives life to the town, the thermal baths, the hotels and the whole local economy, is closely watched. The water table is located under the golf course, an obvious restraint for all the gardeners who did not wait until 2020 to manage the “zero phyto”. “We are 30 years ahead of everyone else! On a daily basis, we see it as an opportunity rather than a constraint”, the words of Maxime Benoist, the young director who intends to give the club a new dynamic, are clear.
“Today, we are working on the improvement of the watering system, the quality of the tee boxes, the bunkers, the non-playing areas where flowers and tall grass have their place. Very soon, we will be sanding the greens so that they regain their homogeneity and speed. I’m thinking of reworking the design so that the 9 is closer to the clubhouse. Besides, a new clubhouse will be built in the next few months, with a terrace facing the arrival of the 18th and a capacity of 80 guests, half of them indoors”. Maxime is not short of arguments, planning the work over three years. A group that has given itself the means to achieve its ambitions by delegating the management of the club to Golf Référence, an offshoot of the AIMG already involved in several golf courses throughout France. The first works have enabled the driving range to be redesigned, with 12 covered posts and the arrival of a robot shearer. In the age of “2.0”, Golf La Roche-Posay has entered the era of new technologies!
After two holes on the valley floor, we quickly get to the heart of the matter, the fir tree… On a relatively short layout, the forest paths impress those who do not control their shots. A three-hectare lake – the Pingault pond – borders holes 4 and 14, adding a little spice to the game and a water reserve for watering. The water comes from underground and then returns to the ground untreated, with regular tests to ensure its quality. An old island tee in the middle of this lake could be used again in the near future. An additional stamp towards a par 5 which would then become the signature of the GLRP…
At times, a slight downhill slope gives a little relief to the game, offering alternating brilliant play downhill and some effort in the opposite direction. A few out of bounds holes like 3, 6, 11, 12 and 18 are available for those who would like to go for the edge. A pretty little par 3, the 13th is set against the Pingault pond where the ragondins play in the grass. From the 14th onwards, the game becomes more challenging, more playful. First of all, there is a dogleg left followed by an out and back with a short par 4 uphill and a long par 3 downhill. On these holes, crossed by a small stream, there is a risk of weighing down the card! Once the 18th hole has been put into play at an angle over the stream, a boulevard opens the way to an elevated green. One of the most complicated greens on the course, which will benefit from a new clubhouse facing it in the spring. Enough to comment on friends’ approaches… with a drink in hand.
In a region where Golfy involvement is as strong as it is appreciated, the return of Golf La Roche-Posay to the Network is an excellent thing. All the more so as three hotels in the town have followed the golf course in its approach, the Clos Paillé, the Relais de la Motte and the Loges du Parc. A plethora of stars to discover before going to sleep… in the heart of the Vienne.
La Roche-Posay Golf
La Tuilerie de Renoir
86270 La Roche-Posay
18T, par 72, 6316 m.
Architecte : Jean Garaialde (1987).