Céline Boutier’s recent victory at the Evian Championship, Europe’s only continental major, undoubtedly marked a historic moment for French golf.
The question is whether this exceptional performance will mark a turning point for the future of professional golf in our country.
Will Céline Boutier be the trigger we’ve been waiting for, so that we can finally have French golfers among the world’s elite?
Nothing is less certain!
Of course, this prestigious victory comes at just the right time, a year ahead of the Olympic Games, both in terms of its impact on golf’s visibility and the possible vocations it may have aroused among the younger generation.
By reaching 4th place in the world rankings, the French golfer could also be an inspiring role model for all French professionals on the various tours.
Because beyond talent (which she herself says she lacks!), it’s thanks to her professionalism, her high standards, her hard work and the sacrifices she has made (faculty, then expatriation to the US…) that she has been able to lift a trophy that we, as golf enthusiasts, have been waiting for for decades.
However, in a country where golf suffers from a particularly limited popularity or is even considered a heresy by an extremist fringe of the population, it seems utopian to believe that a victory, however prestigious, would be synonymous with a radiant future.
The figures speak for themselves:
- USA: 11% of the population plays golf
- United Kingdom: 11% of the population play golf
- France: 0.7% of the population plays golf!!!
We’ve come a long way!
There’s no shortage of talent, but the infrastructure is probably lacking.
This explains the erratic results of French golf to date and the fleeting presence of our representatives in the world’s top 100!
The logic is implacable, no popularity … no means … no means …. no results!
But let’s get back to our original question: “What’s the trigger for French golf?
- YES (maybe ) – if the enthusiasm generated and the Olympic Games lead to a mobilization of institutions, the federation, clubs and various groups to structure golf. But it is much more. We also need to realize that before she got to where she is today, our champion had to follow a “curriculum” outside the country! As if France wasn’t capable of nurturing its own talents. The key is to create the competition that generates the emulation essential to progress. But the tendency is to pamper and preserve the best…which nips in the bud any spirit of competition!
- NO – if Céline’s victory remains an epiphenomenon and if, as is often the case, we are content to congratulate ourselves without seeking to learn the lessons from our successes, which owe nothing to chance.
The victories of Céline Boutier, the new world number 3 (after her success at the Scottish Open) and “resident” of the European Solheim Cup team (the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup) are a real thunderbolt for golf and, more generally, for French sport.
A breath of fresh air which should not obscure the structural weakness of top-level French golf.
Instead of pessimism, let’s rejoice and try to see the glass as half full.
French golf may be on the verge of a new era… if all the players agree to ride this wave together!