Searching for the Architect | Adventures In Golf Season 4

[In French] Bonjour. Je m’appelle Erik, and this is Adventures in Golf. For this episode, we
came to Northern France to play a golf course
that, believe it or not, is inspired by this structure. [INTENSE MUSIC PLAYING] [FRENCH MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to France. We are on our way to Dunkerque
Golf Course, which apparently is widely recognized as
being one of the more unusual architectural
masterpieces, not just of France,
but of the world. We tried to get an
interview with the architect Robert Berthet We explored
multiple possibilities. We emailed him, we texted
him, we called him, we FaceTimed him,
but we’re going to see if we can gain some
insight into Berthet’s inspiration for the golf course. Bonjour. [SPEAKING FRENCH] In English that
means, well, hello. We’re here. Some other things I
can say in French are– [SPEAKING FRENCH],, which
means, I’m downstairs. Bonjour. Hello. [SPEAKING FRENCH] My name is Erik. You too. We’re trying to get the
architect of the golf course on the Skype call, here, because
Robert Berthet is in France. You could take two, as you want? No, one’s OK. OK. Yeah. This one. We said 11:30 and we’re a
few minutes late to be fair. The second is– how do you say? The back? Yeah, back nine. Yeah, back nine. The 18 is just over there. OK. I’m just going to go ahead
and FaceTime here, let’s see. [RINGING] All right. [BUSY SIGNAL] He is on another call. You go along the ninth– OK. –eighth. Very good, Easy. Oh, we have a text back. It’s not from Robert. We were really looking forward
to doing a FaceTime interview with Robert. We had all the cameras set
up, we were ready to go. We had a take up, we were
rolling, we called him, he didn’t answer. All right, so first tee
shot here at Dunkerque. Already, you can
see the course– this feels very
relaxing, very peaceful. There’s a lot of birds around– really feels like a park. [UPBEAT FRENCH MUSIC] OK. I’m going to start the day
with an up and down, I guess. All right, so 13th hole. Looks like it gets interesting
as you get close to a green. Marina, tell me, how do you
describe the golf course? Atypical. You know? And the very various. The holes are not the same. One is easy and after we
jump into a different one. It’s never the same. So coming up on the 15th green. This is where you kind of get
the iconography of the course, here. It’s kind of an island green,
you’ve got these, like, plateaus as you get up to it. As a big, kind of, history
buff in World War II, this is obviously a big
part of that and I was thinking of walking
through these woods here. All the trees that the
architect planted kind of mimic the feeling of a
battalion being stationed. That, I think, is what makes
this course so interesting, is that the course is literally
trying to, kind of, envelop you in that history
in a subtle way. Tell me about Robert Berthet. Robert Berthet, yes. Did it have to do
with World War II? The architect Vaubon, who
did a lot of construction, fortification
everywhere in France. And Dunkerque Golf Course was
based on Vaubon fortification. That’s unusual, right? Yeah. I think, yeah. On the golf course? Yeah. It’s pretty incredible
what they set out to do. The architect Robert Berthet,
who we have as of yet to interview, his
initial inspiration was actually the architect
Vaubon not World War II. Vaubon built a lot of these
castles and the fortresses that surround the castles. And one of them still exists
and it’s only two miles from the golf course. And it’s in a little
town called Bergues. [FOLK MUSIC PLAYING] As we show up to Bergues,
we see right here the structures that
inspired the golf course some 500 years later. This is a great example
of this fortress style that Berthet used
on the golf course– these kind of angular
walls that keep the ball from getting on the green. Short shots are, in a sense,
deflected off in multiple ways, unlike any other golf
course I’ve ever seen. How do you describe
golf in France? Totally different from American
or England golf culture. We work a lot, I think, to
democratize to everybody because in France the
vision of a golfer is– mmm– rich and pretentious. Hmm. I think the Ryder Cup
had a good effect on this because it’s a real sport and
it has cool guys and everything. That’s something I
really believe in and that’s something that we try
to do with Adventures in Golf is allow people to
see that there’s a game of golf for everybody. If we play golf we have the– the same language. Ah, language. Golf. [SWINGING SOUND] We play golf. We go all around and
play golf all over and try to see the
interesting ways that golf describes the people
that live in that country. Hold back audio. And– sorry. There’s Robert
Berthet, the architect. Let’s talk to the architect. Robert! Hi, Erik, how are you? I’m very good, how are you? Very well. You told me that it
would be possible to have a meeting tomorrow. We’re free all day, so
we could come meet you. I would love to talk to
you about your course. OK, very good. See you tomorrow. OK, have a good night. Thank you, bye. So now, we’ve got exactly
what we wanted because we have a little bit of extra time. We’re going to go meet with
Berthet tomorrow in Paris. [FRENCH MUSIC PLAYING] It’s partly my job, but
it’s also one of my loves, is to find out the unusual
golf stories around the world. And Dunkerque has
been there since around the time I was born
and I’ve always wanted to go. Ever since I started
playing golf, I saw that course
and I’ve always wanted to see what it
was like, and ultimately, talk to you about it. So tell me about Vaubon. Oh, Vaubon was a
military engineer for the King Louis XIV. OK. And he told the
king, this region of the boundaries of France
must be specially fortified. And he created two lines of
fortifications instead of one. And he considered is a
fortress of Dunkerque as the best he ever designed. So I told myself it’s
this place to create a military designed golf course. It seems to me like Dunkerque
has three main attributes that are so distinct–
the tee boxes, the approach to the greens
with the fortified walls, and the angular bunkers. Can you talk to me specifically
about the inspiration for each of those? I studied the military
architecture of Vaubon. If you look at the aerial
view of a fortress of Vaubon and to my golf course, you
will see it’s the same family. Vaubon created some very sharp
hedges to beat the assailant, I did the same
because the golfers are behaving like soldiers. They are driving this
Big Bertha drivers. They are exploding from bunkers. They are attacking greens. Those are military terms. And he’s very
angry with himself, when he don’t succeed in
fighting against the course. I am happy to have done that. For me, intellectually,
it’s really a success. Yeah. I am proud of that.

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