OHJGS Tour to France August 2018

August 27-31: Belle Dune, Villarceaux, Morfontaine, Racing Club de France
A glorious summer approached its end in fitting style with four days’ delightful golf on some of France’s finest courses. Mangled limbs, a spectacular thunderstorm and the ever-present threat of liver damage did nothing to detract from the enjoyment for our select band of golfing gastronomes.
The tour began inauspiciously just days before departure when the Society’s doyen crashed through the roof of his garden shed … Despite a severely sprained ankle, Dudley valiantly determined to carry on, re-purposing himself as a golfing guru par excellence, dispensing priceless on-course observations and tips from his buggy.
A very agreeable dinner on the first evening in the attractive Coq Hotel, in the heart of mediaeval Montreuil-sur-Mer, was rounded off by a tasting of John’s mind-altering Armagnac and sordid tales of low life in Star house in the 60s. Was it a coincidence that Rick, the only abstainer, performed best the following morning with 37 points, round the lovely but testing layout of Belle Dune..?
The following night was spent in the handsome Château du Landel, an elegantly furnished manor house in the depths of the Normandy countryside, where we enjoyed a delectable refined dinner, to the accompaniment of the usual unrefined banter. The sleeping hours that night were disturbed by the most vivid Donner und Blitzen, suggesting a day off golf the following day: but though the day dawned grey the rain stayed away. Villarceaux was almost deserted on our arrival, and we enjoyed the surprisingly dry course to ourselves, before proceeding to the Auberge de l’Oise near Chantilly for another evening of well-fuelled jollity.
The highlight of the tour, as always, was majestic Morfontaine, France’s most exclusive club and Henry Longhurst’s favourite continental course, where once again we were entertained most hospitably by David Lawday. The sun reappeared and Rick and John in one group scored admirably with 36 points apiece, while in the other Ruddles and I held off David and Leo with an unlikely 15 foot putt on the 18th green. An excellent lunch on the terrasse featuring a tasty plat du jour of rognons de veau was worked off with a round on Tom Simpson’s original 9-hole La Vallière course, a stunningly beautiful pine and heather layout.
In recognition of his exceptional hospitality over more than 20 years, our host David was presented at lunch with a memorial porcelain mug, and with the unanimous agreement of all current and past committee members present was offered honorary membership of the Society.
Up early on the final day to tackle the perfectly manicured fairways of La Boulie (Racing Club de France), as guests of another old friend from my Paris days Leo van Wersch. The excesses of the previous days and nights were beginning to be reflected in the golf, but the tour came to an appropriate end with another splendid lunch on the terrace of the clubhouse, enhanced by Leo’s generous supply of a magnum and bottle of Meursault from his legendary cellar.
Tour party: John Fraser, Rick Holgate, Graham Negus, Paul Ruddlesdin, Imtiaz Arian (friend of RG).
Tour Leader: Roger Goodacre. Travelling Guru: Dudley Stratford