Course of Action: Le Golf National

From learning French to managing without certain fungicides, superintendent Alejandro Reyes has had a unique road to the 2018 Ryder Cup.


Filed to: Europe, Ryder Cup

Superintendent Alejandro Reyes

Beatles legend John Lennon wrote the lyrics for “Strawberry Fields Forever” in Almeria, Spain. As a young boy, Alejandro Reyes studied there. He must have learned a lot in Almeria and other places on his journey. This month, Reyes will see just how well his knowledge has traveled.

Reyes — a Spaniard — is making a splash in France, where he is courses and estates manager at Le Golf National near Paris, a hotbed of professional golf this month. Le Golf National’s Albatros Course will be the site of the 2018 Ryder Cup, scheduled Sept. 28-30.

Reyes was groomed early for this. He went to a school that specialized in agronomy when he was 13. “It was quite atypical when all my friends went to the normal high school, but I knew that I wanted to do it,” he says. “The course covered the more practical aspects of agricultural engineering.”

He continued his education at the University of Almeria in Spain before leaving home for the United Kingdom’s Cranfield University to earn a master’s degree in sports surface technology. He went to work for Polaris World, which joined forces with Nicklaus Design to create a cluster of resort courses in Spain. In less than two years, under the guidance of agronomy director Sylvain Duval, Reyes was promoted to superintendent at one of the courses. He was only 25.

“Yes, I had a lot of education and some good experience, but it was a huge challenge,” says Reyes, a four-year GCSAA member. “It is difficult when you are young and have to make your own decisions for the first time.”

To land the job at Le Golf National, which also hosts the European Tour’s HNA Open de France, Reyes had to learn French, which he accomplished for his job interviews.

A major agronomic challenge for him there is Microdochium nivale on greens. “Spray contact fungicide is not allowed in France, so our management approach combines both best practices of considering the environment and using a systemic preventive program,” he says.

Reyes, 35, says the Albatros Course is made for the best players from the U.S. and Europe to tangle. “Without question, its design (makes it special). It was designed not just for challenging the best players in the world, but to also provide a unique spectator experience, which is most important for the Ryder Cup,” Reyes says.

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.

Filed to: Europe, Ryder Cup