The stunning French course was the big winner at the fifth annual World of Leading Golf Awards, taking the title of ‘best member 2018' at the event held at Royal Bled Golf, in Slovenia, a new member of the corporation.
The awards were determined by an independent jury and a team of ‘mystery testers' who would turn up unannounced at each venue to rate them on a variety of criteria. And, in recognising Le Golf National as the ‘outstanding member club' of 2018, the judges said: "The course is always an amazing place to play; all tees and fairways are perfect and well maintained. The bunkers are exceptional. The layout and shaping is world class."
And all the mystery testers admitted they "loved the Ryder Cup feeling".
The host venue, Royal Bled, was nominated in two categories, ‘best culinary offering' and ‘best overall impression', taking top honours in the latter. Its golf courses offered an "exceptional experience", with one judge commenting: "The views are superb. The variety of lakes, streams and woodland gives a very peaceful ambience."
But the quality does not end after 18 holes as another visitor testified: "This is a club that represents the highest level of service, standards and attention to the smallest of details." And guests at the awards evening experienced all of the Royal Bled excellence for themselves on the day.
La Reserva Sotogrande walked off with the award for ‘best service', with the Spanish resort unanimously hailed for its excellence. Observations included "bags were collected by the caddie master from the car and returned to the car at the end of the round", and "all staff acknowledged my presence, (and were) polite and friendly".
Golfclub Beuerberg, in Eurasburg, Germany, won the award for ‘best culinary offering' for a hugely impressive third successive year. The family-run restaurant is renowned for its homely atmosphere and many non-golfers come for its excellent fare and fine selection of wines. Testers commented on the "love and professionalism of the owners", and came to the conclusion that "the F&B area is one of the best (we) have seen in a golf club. A must visit, just for the restaurant".
When a collection of clubs is of as high a quality as those in WLG, it takes something truly exceptional to be acknowledged as the one with the ‘best course conditions' - but that's exactly what Slovakian member Penati Golf Resort possessed in 2018.
Penati - which won the award for ‘best overall impression' in 2017 - received high scores in everything, from the practice grounds to the fairways, and from design to maintenance. Testers' reports were littered with superlatives such as ‘excellent', ‘exceptional', ‘immaculate' and ‘wonderful', while the course conditions would ‘guarantee a perfect round'.
One of the year's most talked-about new golf venues was West Cliffs, in the Óbidos region of Portugal. It has received rave reviews throughout the year and, therefore, it came as no surprise when it was awarded the title of ‘best newcomer 2018', with one tester commenting: "If you love to play golf this is a course that you want to play."
The years of experience of the Praia D'El Rey management, which oversees the resort, are reflected in the small details, as the judges noted: "The staff know they have a wonderful golf course but, nevertheless, they want us to feel welcome and contribute to that wonderful experience."
The integration of the golf course in the natural surroundings and the view of the sea are merely the proverbial "icing on a very tasty cake".
Congratulating all the winners, Claus Feldt, WLG's CEO, said: "Royal Bled is the perfect setting for such an intimate event, underlining this year's strong growth from Eastern Europe, which includes new members Riverside Golf Zagreb, in Croatia, and the V Golf Club, in Vilnius, Latvia.
"The fulcrum of the evening is the presentation of the WLG Awards and we'd like to congratulate all the winners on their individual successes. But, we should emphasise, in being a member of WLG, each venue has already demonstrated a commitment to being one of the best destinations in world golf."
He added: "The event also offered many excellent networking opportunities while guests used the occasion to renew acquaintances with people they have known for some years. Evenings like this are particularly valuable in golf, for it is a relatively small industry in terms of the people in it - they move around but tend to stay within it - and they value social occasions such as this where they can catch up with people they may have known from previous roles."
WLG and its member clubs are passionately committed to the game of golf - they commit to the very highest of quality standards concerning the design and caretaking of golf courses and services, as well as the levels of ambiance and gastronomy.