Golf Course Architecture - Issue 59, January 2020

69 They decided a golf course was the best way to achieve this, and also had the capability to generate revenue from some of the many millions of passengers, workers and residents who pass nearby each day. In 2008 the commune issued a design tender, which was won by Golf Optimum, a French firm led by Michel Niedbala. Before setting up on his own design business, Niedbala spent 25 years laying out courses around the world for some of the industry’s best-known signature designers. It would be nearly a decade before construction at Roissy could start, due to the lengthy process of acquiring each of the individual parcels of land that make up the property. But by 2017, Niedbala was given the green light and construction began with the excavation of water storage lakes. By the time of GCA ’s visit in late 2019, aside from a few holes, the course was grassed and growing-in ahead of its planned opening in 2020. The site is known as ‘Vallée Verte’ and is exactly that, a green valley. A large modern clubhouse, currently in construction, sits on the top of one hill and holes play down towards the valley floor, where a series of lakes have been excavated, providing ample rainwater storage capacity to meet the course’s irrigation needs. After the first two holes, a winding downhill par five then a short but perilous four, you traverse through some of the 16 acres of protected forest areas on the site. It’s the only long walk between holes on the entire course, but a pleasant one, if don’t mind the climb. Keep your eye open for the bat boxes that Niedbala added high in the trees. The third tee is located at the top of the hill on the other side of the valley, along which holes three to seven and thirteen to fifteen play. There has been a huge earthmoving effort here to cut fairways and greens into the hillside. Some of these tiers are supported by retaining walls, using rock that also features elsewhere on the course and around the clubhouse area. The lake holes will be the most memorable. The eighth is a reasonably short par four requiring what appears to be a quite terrifying drive to a small slither of land that crosses the lake. It is actually more generous than it appears, and big hitters also have the option of a heroic carry directly towards the green. Niedbala says that tournament organisers who have already visited the course were very excited by the drama this hole could offer. Illenis erume sitatatur maio int maxim alitiis dolor atquatium que vit exeria paritio reiuntia vellest, sequissit voluptis int, alit The valley holes at Roissy include the par-three sixteenth, which plays to a green on the lake Photo: Gunther Gheeraert