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Snow and marmots: the unusual challenges behind the preparation of Tignes golf course!

Snow and marmots: the unusual challenges behind the preparation of Tignes golf course!

An 18-hole golf course at an altitude of 2100 m? A slightly crazy challenge set in the late 1960s (creation of the course’s first 9 holes), which became a reality in the early 1990s (the addition of 9 further holes), and which has continued to be met with flying colours every summer since. While the players’ smiles say it all at the end of the course, it’s thanks to a team of enthusiasts who roll up their sleeves every spring to breathe life into the highest 18-hole course in Europe after a snowy winter! A huge challenge, quite different to the everyday life of golf courses in the valley.

Beneath the snow flakes... the greens!

Every winter, Tignes golf course disappears under several metres of snow and gives way to the Chartreux cross-country skiing loop or the dog-sledding circuit. To protect the greens, specific signs are put in place in the autumn in order to indicate the fragile zones to be bypassed by the snow groomers during the daily preparation of slopes.

Frédéric Scuiller, director of Tignes golf course reassured us: “The cold and the weight of the snow are not really a concern, contrary to what you may think. We use a mixture of three seeds adapted to cold climates for the greens and a native mountain grass for the fairways. In autumn, the grass goes into natural wintering and stops growing, only to be renewed in the Spring when the snow melts”.


Golf de Tignes en hiver Golf de Tignes en été



From snow lawnmowers!

Tonte du gazon sur le golf 18 trous de Tignes


In spring, begins a race against against the clock worthy of Jack Bauer, the hero of the legendary series, “24”. While the golf courses in the valley or by the sea are maintained all year around, the team of five gardeners at the Tignes golf course only has one short month to prepare, in order to welcome golfers at the start of summer. And the challenges to be faced may vary from one extreme to another depending on the year: snow that “won’t” melt following a winter marked by heavy snowfall, or on the contrary, grass that grows “too” quickly in the event of a warm spring. Adaptability is the operative word.

Frédéric told us: “I remember one year when an avalanche triggered pre-emptively in winter hurtled down to the golf course and made one of the holes inaccessible at the start of summer. There was a huge amount of snow, too much to be evacuated, even mechanically! We had to be patient!”


From great white to flamboyant green

Overseeding, aeration by scarification, mowing, cleaning up the surrounding areas, repairing bridges that may have given way under the weight of the snow, installation of netting... In just a few weeks, the great white gives way to flamboyant greens, without using any crop protection products (no weed killers, no insecticides, no fungicides, etc.). Frédéric explained that: “The golf course of Tignes is located on the banks of Tignes lake. We therefore pay particular attention to the products used on the greens. Only fertilisers, essential to feed the lawns weakened by daily mowing, are used.” 


Golf 18 trous de Tignes à 2100 mètres d'altitude


did you know?

In the summer, the greens are mowed every other day, and the fairways continuously (a complete lap of the fairways takes 2 to 3 days). Over the course of the season, the grass tends to soften. Also, in the autumn, before the first snowfall, huge aeration works of the greens take place using a draining spade. Clumps of soil are evacuated and filled with a mix of sand and ceramics which will allow water to be better retained at a later stage.



Marmots: spectators that can be a little too greedy

They bring joy to children... But despair to gardeners! Marmots are so present on Tignes golf course that it was naturally named “le Parcours des Marmottes” (“The Marmots’ Course”). An unusual sight for players, and a genuine challenge for the greens maintenance team, as these charming creatures can cause considerable damage to the course... But also underground when they mistake “sprinkler system” for “a well-deserved snack”!

From late June to early September, come and discover Tignes golf course and see the marmots who have made it their home! Practice, mid golf, 18-holes, beginner or improvement courses... Golfers of all levels will find a way of satisfying their desire to spend some time on the greens (and in the cool air) for a few hours.


Marmotte sur le golf de Tignes

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