The Dream of a family of Passionate Champions
Golf has always played an enormous part in the lives of the Mourgue d’Algue family. 4 generations have now played a significant part in the history of French golf and members of the family have won more than 80 titles at the game worldwide.
Pioneer and visionary, Gaëtan Mourgue d’Algue was the best French player of his generation and has subsequently dedicated his life to the development of golf in France. Among many initiatives, he created the Lancôme Trophy, the most important tournament in continental Europe and ran it for more than 30 years. He built courses such as Arcangues in southwest France, Limère in the Loire Valley and Joyenval near Paris. He published the original Peugeot Guide to Europe’s top 1000 courses and subsequently went on with Rolex to do the same with the World’s top 1000.
His son André once halved with Tiger Woods in a team match between Paris and California before going on to work in resort development in the United States. Returning to France, he joined his father in the golf course construction business and from early 2002 they have been seeking the best locations for course project. Their wish has always been to let nature be the driving force of any course they build and combine it with the “art de vivre à la française.”
At the end of 2003, Gaëtan and André discovered, here in Gardegan and Tourtirac, 252 untouched acres in a valley fringed with 100 year old oak trees and framed by vineyards, the whole located just 6 miles from the village of Saint Emilion itself, a UNESCO listed World Heritage of Humanity site. From there they went on to develop a proper concept and gained the correct permits before selling the project to a Canadian company, Intrawest. Some years later, and after the financial problems of 2008, they had the opportunity to buy the project back and then themselves build one of the best courses in Europe.
As Grand St Emilionnais Golf Club came to fruition, the family involvement has increased. Philippine, André’s wife, a granddaughter of Bordeaux wine producers and with deep connections to this stunning area, is herself a Junior and College French Champion. Philippine now heads the marketing effort.
Kristel, Gaëtan’s daughter and André’s sister, is the only French individual winner of the NCAA championship in the United States, and is a former Ladies European Tour player with one win on Tour. She brings significant communication skills to the project along with her input into professional and amateur golf in the country. Fabian, the eldest brother, adds international finance capabilities and that completes this family team. But let us not forget the mother, Cécilia who holds one of the most distinguished French amateur records ever and brings an unique vision of women’s game to golf course architecture.
Construction at Grand St Emilionnais has lasted over four years in order to reach this stage. Two major challenges had to be faced. The first was to ensure there would always be sufficient water. This has been achieved by the building of seven acres of lakes that will guarantee all rain water will be captured and retained. The second was the decision to plant fescue grasses in a hotter climate than is usually advisable. Fescue’s low water and pesticides consumption along with its slow growing process were its determining factors. The use of hybrid mowing machines were also an important innovation. Eventually there will be 12 greenkeepers headed by Cédric Le Véziel a highly qualified superintendent, who plays off a 3-handicap, to make sure the course is always in the best possible condition.
The Mourgue d’Algues are also developing a first hamlet composed of 11 houses aimed for golfers and potential investors. Well integrated with the beautiful region of St Emilion, they are located by the clubhouse and have views out over the course, the vineyards and a XIIth century roman church. Local wine owners are already investors in this prestigious venture. In addition, there will be 8 luxury apartments ranging from 700 sq ft to 1,130 sq ft and will situated by the first fairway.
Gaëtan Mourgue d’Algue likes to remind that golf can be played from 7 to 77 years old (even older now) and André likes to add that this course is the achievement of a family dream but also a creation that will embody all the finer aspects of this wonderful sport.
Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club has already been selected by the largest circulation international magazines such as Golf Magazine USA and Golf World UK, among the 9 most anticipated courses in the world for 2015.
ANDRE MOURGUE D'ALGUE
After graduating from the Institut Polytechnique of Grenoble and from the Institut of Social Politics of Grenoble, André Mourgue d'Algue (AMA) started his professional career at the Lyonnaise des Eaux in Argentina, then worked for major developers of golf resorts in the United States. With that outstanding experience in store, he decided to join his father Gaëtan in order to build this kind of project in France. He then stayed on site for over a year and a half and now lives in Bordeaux where he led the remodeling of the Golf Bordelais and contributes to its management.
In 1990, during an official match at Saint-Nom la Bretèche Golf Club, AMA tied with Tiger Woods. He was also French Club Team champion in 2005.
GAETAN MOURGUE D'ALGUE
A life wholly dedicated to golf. His father, a scratch player, had him hitting his first shots at the tender age of 8, and at 15 he was playing for his country and became one of the finest French players of his generation. He was French Amateur Champion several times and played four times with the Continental Europe team (for the St Andrews Trophy).
In 1967, he married Cecilia Perslow, the Swedish champion golfer who won a serious number of titles in her time. At the professional level, he moved into the publication business, creating the magazine Golf Européen. Then in 1970 he launched the celebrated Trophée Lancôme and was actively involved in starting up the European Professional Tour in partnership with IMG McCormack, a company with which he also established the South Ame- rican Tour in 1979.
He has also been the instigator of several golf courses: Joyenval (France), Limère (France), Arcangues (France), Abidjan (Ivory Coast)...
Gaëtan Mourgue d'Algue is a member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Saint Nom la Bretèche and honorary member of the Golf de Chantilly and Joyenval.
KRISTEL MOURGUE D'ALGUE
Kristel is the daughter of 2 french amateur champions, Cecilia and Gaetan. She won 9 titles as French amateur and played 3 times for the French team at the World Championship. After winning the NCCA (American University Championship) she turned professional on the Ladies European Tour. After being 30th on the European ranking, she decided to join her father with the publication of the Peugeot Guide ‘Best 1000 Golf Courses in Europe’ and then the Rolex Guide ‘Best 1000 Golf Courses in the World’. Co-owner of the Grand Saint-Emilionnais Golf Club, she contributes to the management of the Club and the Public Relations.
PHILIPPINE MOURGUE D'ALGUE
Philippine Mourgue D’Algue was born at the Château les Carmes Haut Brion, family property. She worked for several years for a wine broker company, ‘les Vins de Crus’. She then joined her husband AMA for the publishing of the First worldwide Golf Guide, the ‘Rolex Golf Guide’ and at the Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club in order to manage the marketing and the rental of the Golf Villas.
French Junior Champion in 1991, then 3 times French University Champion, Philippine Mourgue d’Algue studied at the New Mexico University with Gwladys Nocera and now plays as a scratch golfer for the Ladies First Team at Golf Bordelais.