I could have three-putted anywhere. Let you in on a little secret; I do it quite a bit, so it came as no surprise when the ball halted at the edge of the hole to rob me of a hard-earned double bogey.
While we’re the subject of golfing confessions, I also slice my drives on regular basis, often forget to bring enough balls to cater for my wild inconsistency and on occasion, don’t make it past the ladies’ tee.
Yet today, for reasons that will soon become obvious, this particular three-putt didn’t provoke the usual grimace. All things considered, playing a round of golf in the shadow of the snow-capped Alps in southern France wasn’t going to be my worst day at the office.
I mean, I could have three-putted at Kilkivan, in rural Queensland, where the rains seem too scared to even suggest misting the parched grass on the fairways and the greens” are, if the club’s marketing team were to completely transparent, better described as “dirt mixed with diesel oil”.
I could have been ducking a suicidal magpie on a sortie from its nest of young ones, with my head as its target, while burning to a crisp and having two mates and a raging hangover as my playing partners.
Or my three-putt could have been so costly it robbed me of some dazzling prizes; a few golf balls, a pot of beer perhaps or – god forbid – a frozen chook.
Alas, no. None of those things applied on this fine Tuesday. Today, it was just three insignificant putts, on a perfectly manicured green, on a day blessed with a bathing sun, on a golf course in the south of France. I even had the extravagance of a motorised cart to save time searching for rogue balls that decided to set out and explore on their own.
Life can be good, even if you do shoot well into triple figures.
The city of Grenoble isn’t often talked about for its golf. It’s rarely talked about outside of winter, for that matter. When it is, it’s likely to be on coverage of the Tour de France, which weaves its way up the perilous and jaw-droppingly steep mountain roads that flank the Isère Valley.
In winter, Grenoble is an alpine launching pad for snow freaks, jetting in to sample some of the world-class skiing in the surrounding resorts, one of which – Alpe de Huez – features the longest black run in Europe, the Sarennes (16km).
Grenoble hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics, when skiing legend Jean-Claude Killy won all three downhill events. The Olympic legacy is visible in Grenoble’s three highrise apartment blocks, which were purpose built for the Games in an architectural style the locals can only describe as very ’60s”. Loved and hated alike by the residents, many a bowl of steaming fondue has been enjoyed behind its white stucco walls.
It’s not attracting winter visitors that’s the problem for Grenoble, nor is it attracting hardcore cyclists in the warmer months as their gargantuan calves power them up the impossible looking inclines.
But encouraging visitors in summer to sample some of the region’s delights is more of a challenge, and golf is quickly emerging as one of the drawcards.
While golfers usually think of Scotland, Ireland or Portugal as the ideal destinations for a golfing getaway, Grenoble – an hour an a half in the air from London – holds plenty of aces. The Dauphine region, of which Grenoble is the main centre, gets more than 300 days of sun a year, which takes out the guessing game you play with the weather when you tee up in the UK.
The Bresson Golf Club, just a few kilometres out of the city, is the closest and best of the courses on offer. Even if your game is plummeting faster than Killy could tear down the mountain, the spectacular views in front of you on almost every tee will ease your anxiety and take your breath away at the same time.
The Chartreuse mountains, to the north, are home to the famed coloured licquer, of which every bar in Grenoble serves up with pride. It is said the recipe is known by only a handful of monks, who have guarded if for generations.
Whatever the secret, the warming taste is the perfect prelude to a night of lamenting snap-hooks and air-swings in the bars of Grenoble, a student city through and through with a vibrancy that resonates even when the winter snows have long melted.”