Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Golf In France

If you are new to golf in France the best course of action is to apply for a license from FFgolf ( As well as providing you with the means to obtain an official French golf handicap, the most important feature is insurance coverage should your errant golf ball hit a building, car or head (or should someone else's ball hit YOUR head!)

The license has space for a "carte verte" sticker, which you can obtain after being accompanied on a 9 hole round by any club pro. The idea is purely to ensure that you can complete 9 holes of golf in under 3 hours and you don't kill anyone in the process. A basic knowledge of rules and etiquette is also expected, but there is no "test" as such.

When you first obtain your license, you are allocated a handicap of 54. This is GREAT - you get 3 strokes per hole over someone who plays from scratch, and this allows you to compete in club competitions far earlier than you would be able to in the UK (bear in mind that in France you need a current medical certificate from your GP certifying your fitness to play golf before you can play in any competitions, even "fun" ones organised by your local club - this has to be renewed each year)

If you have a valid handicap in any other country, FFgolf will simply transfer that to your new French license if you inform them. For the "newbie", you can begin to reduce your handicap by playing in any "proper" competition organised by your local club. These can be sponsored events with prizes, or "classement" competitions which are generally held weekly at every club with the sole aim of allowing people to register a score towards their handicap.

Note that you cannot simply register any old score card towards your handicap, it has to be from a recognised competition where the club will print out official FFgolf score cards which must be marked by one of your co-competitors, signed and handed in at the end of the round - all very official (well, this IS France, after all).

Every license holder gets their own "portal page" on the FFgolf site which allows you to track the current status of your license, whether you have a carte verte, whether you have registered your medical certificate, and the evolution of your handicap (plus stats of your current position in your club, the league, the region and nationally!)

My advice for anyone looking to play over here regularly would be to apply for a French license regardless - it costs 48 Euros a year and gives you the benefit of the insurance. Officially, a license is obligatory to play on any French course, though the likelyhood of that being enforced is remote. Of course, if you have an accident and you are without insurance, things could get tricky...

If you already have a handicap, you can have it transferred to that license, and you don't need to do the carte verte test. If you don't have a handicap but you play regularly, you could probably just explain and ask the club for the carte verte sticker - they might give it to you or they might require that you complete one round with the pro. Probably worth doing, since it only needs doing once and then you are "official", and it really is VERY straightforward to do (not at all like getting a carte grise!)

If you are just an occasional visitor, there is no need to do anything, but you should make sure your travel (or golf) insurance policy covers you for accidents abroad.

As with the UK, there are clubs that will insist you have a handicap to play (proven by your French golf license) and those who don't care as long as you pay your green fees.

I hope that helps - if I have left anything out, just ask. There is lots of info on the FFgolf site too for those who read French.


Lee Oster said...

Very helpful Bob. I just moved to France and that is all good information. By the way, do rounds played outside of France count toward the handicap?

Alex said...

Thanks. Hope it is actual info even in these days :)

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