Golf in rural areas
Although a very fashionable activity for urbanites, golf has tried to move out into the country over the past twenty years. France’s demographic upheavals and the willingness of the Fédération Française de Golf to popularise a sport, that wanted and needed wider appeal, have largely helped to develop golf courses outside towns and cities in country settings all over France.
As life in the country attracts more and more city-dwellers, France’s demographic landscape has been turned upside down in recent years, thereby revolutionising the popularity of sport in a rural setting, which continues to develop apace. This has given a second lease of life to traditional games, yet at the same time new sports have begun to emerge.
One such sport, disc-golf, derived from golf and the frisbee, has been tremendously successful since the beginning of the 1970s. A Fédération Nationale du Sport en Milieu Rural (National Association for Sports in a Rural Setting) (FNSMR) was created in 1983, creating a framework for the emergence of swin-golf or rusti golf.
In 1982, golf fan Laurent de Vilmorin, aware of the fact that golf was played mostly by the upper classes, set out to popularise the game and share his passion for golf with as many people as possible. He created what is known as swin-golf.
Drawing inspiration from golf and ancient popular games such as “crosse”, “mail” or “chôle”, it is played on rough country grounds with 9 or 18 holes, a single 3-faced club and a soft ball which weighs the same as a normal golf ball but is larger. Affiliated to the FFG, the Fédération Sportive de swin-golf came into being in 1993. Thanks to reasonably priced equipment and affordable access to courses, swin-golf has made an active contribution to the popularisation of its older relation.
From the 1990s, the FFG developed the concept of rural golf, based on swin-golf. The idea was to broaden the customer base for golf courses by creating rather more rustic courses in rural environments, with facilitation and support facilities designed for players who are less demanding when it comes to infrastructures and services…and at more affordable prices. The programme helped to create numerous courses out in the country and boosted the rising popularity of golf with rural populations.
To date, there are 250 so-called rural courses spread across the French countryside.
At the gateway to the Mercantour national park, the Auron rural golf course is a mountain layout at an altitude of 1,600 m (over 5,000 ft). This is a 9-hole compact course laid out between pine and larch trees In the parish of Souraïde, amid the vales of the Pyrenees in the Basque country, the Epherre rural golf course features a difficult 18-hole course with stunning views of the Basque mountains. Simply magnificent! Encircled by the Brenne river at the foot of Mont Auxois (the site of the famous battle of Alésia), the Golf de Venarey is a 7-hole layout open to players of all levels. A real get-away. Why not try the charming appeal of these exceptional natural sites?