An Eagle at 1800m – why our mountains are the perfect place for golf

Does a golf ball travel further at altitude? That’s the first question I should have asked Pascal Alarcon, the manager of Avoriaz- Morzine Golf Club. Instead, we watch as the snow disappears from the pistes of Avoriaz, exposing the resort’s nine-hole, 36 par golf course spanning 2930 metres.

You’d never know, as you glided across the pistes of the Proclou and through the Lil’Stash, that such a well-maintained and highly regarded course existed beneath all that snow. And of course, the views over the Aravis mountain range are exceptional.

“Generally we start to prepare the course for the summer season in early June, as soon as the snow gives way to the grass,” Pascal tells me. “We usually open the course around 15th June but this year, because there was no piste maintenance and very warm temperatures towards the end of the season, the snow melted faster than usual, so we were able to commence work in May.”

‘The vegetation of the golf course falls asleep during the winter season and only resumes when the sun can reach it,” Pascal explains. But it’s the volume of snow resting on top of the course, which has the biggest impact on conditions. “Lots of snow groomers, scooters and skiers can potentially damage the course if the snow layer is not thick enough,” Pascal tells me. Each autumn, before the snow arrives, Pascal and his team undertake a maintenance programme using specifi c natural treatments to guarantee a good resumption of plant growth when spring arrives. “The natural elements necessary for the proper start of the course are water and sunshine. These are elements that are generally always present in Avoriaz. We just help the grass on its way with some nutrients!” says Pascal.

The course is prepared in a number of stages. Overgrown plants and weeds prevent the perfect grass, for which the Avoriaz course is so well known, from growing correctly. These must be removed as early as possible, especially on sensitive areas such as the tees and around each hole. As a second stage, any damage caused by skiers, piste bashers or the machines used to maintain the ski lifts, is repaired. Only once this essential work is complete can mowing begin, along with maintenance on the greens, fairways and bunkers.

Respecting the natural balance of the mountain whilst off ering a golf course with such spectacular views is high on Pascal’s agenda. Three gardeners work between June and September, alongside a specialist Green Keeper, to keep the course in tip top condition. The team use as many natural and ecologically responsible products as possible “to guarantee the sustainability of our golf, while respecting nature,” Pascal explains.

As any good golfer will tell you, a respectable clubhouse must accompany a respectable golf course and in Avoriaz, Pascal and his team organize tee times, equipment rentals and the bar too. Marion and Flo, who are also known for their lovely La Cachette restaurant in Avoriaz, carefully run the restaurant, preparing a menu using fresh, local, quality produce. “Non-golfers are very welcome to come and take advantage of our privileged setting,” they tell me. And then there’s the golf school, for complete armatures like me.

“To start playing golf in Avoriaz is a real pleasure,” Pascal explains. The driving range, located at the entrance to Avoriaz, is on a spot reserved for the La Chapelle snowpark during the winter season. You’ll find 25 indoor and outdoor practice stations, a ball machine and practice is free of charge. There are also three training holes with a putting green and bunker plus and two dedicated pro players who are available to lend clubs free of charge to beginners, whilst offering up those all-important first golf tips. Each Monday in the clubhouse there’s free entertainment and families can discover the joy of golf over a relaxed apero.

Golfers with slightly more experience than me can head straight onto the nine-hole course on the Proclou site, which is accessed just behind the Col de la Joux Verte restaurant. “The main risk of trying golf in Avoriaz is that you’ll become addicted to this great outdoor activity in this preserved natural space!” believes Pascal. And yes, science says a golf ball does travel further at altitude in case you’re wondering!

An Eagle at 1800m – why our mountains are the perfect place for golf
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