Are you looking for the most famous French golfers?
Golf, a sport favored and played by millions worldwide, has seen a significant rise in popularity recently, extending its reach beyond traditional boundaries and attracting enthusiasts in countries where it may not have been as popular historically.
Despite France not being traditionally synonymous with golf, there has been a noteworthy increase in the sport’s appeal among the French people. The country has managed to produce several renowned French golfers who have made significant contributions to the sport’s landscape.
The changing attitude towards golf in France highlights the dynamic nature of sports preferences, illustrating the sport’s ability to establish itself and thrive in regions where it wasn’t historically the preferred choice.
The evolving journey of golf in France serves as evidence of the sport’s universal appeal and also exemplifies the diverse ways in which individuals and nations can actively engage and enrich the broader spectrum of sporting culture.
Without further ado, let’s jump into our list of the most famous French golfers.
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8 Most Famous French Golfers
1. Arnaud Massy
Arnaud George Watson Massy was born on July 6, 1877, in Biarritz, France. He was best known in the history of golf as the first non-British winner of the Open Championship in 1907. This accomplishment makes him the only golfer from France to win one of the significant men’s major championships.
Arnaud Massy showed his golfing skills mainly in the Open Championship, winning it and consistently performing well with 9 top-10 finishes in 21 tries. Apart from the Open Championship, he also succeeded in his country’s National Open, winning 4 times from 1906 to 1925. Massy also won 3 Spanish Opens and several tournaments in England and Belgium.
Massy retired in Étretat, Seine-Maritime, in Upper Normandy. Despite his notable success on the golf course, Arnaud Massy faced financial hardships that became a difficult part of his life story. Sadly, he passed away in 1950 facing financial difficulties.
2. Thomas Levet
Thomas Levet, born on September 5, 1968 in Paris, is a professional golfer with 6 European Tour titles and 3 on the European Senior Tour. Turning pro in 1988, he won the French PGA Championship that year.
He qualified for the European Tour in 1991, spending 6 years there and making a brief appearance on the PGA Tour in 1994. Levet’s notable career includes a runner-up finish at The Open Championship in 2002. Despite challenges, including severe vertigo, he ranked in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
In 2004, Levet won the Scottish Open and was part of the victorious 2004 European Ryder Cup Team. He returned to the PGA Tour in 2005. His 6th European Tour title came in 2011 at the Alstom Open de France, where a celebratory jump into a lake resulted in a broken shin and withdrawal from The Open Championship.
3. Raphaël Jacquelin
Raphaël Jacquelin was born on May 8, 1974, in Lyon, France, and went on to become a professional golfer on the European Tour. After winning the French Amateur Championship in 1995, he turned pro and began his career on the Challenge Tour.
In 1997, he secured two wins and ranked 4th on the money list, earning him a spot on the European Tour for the following season. He has clinched 4 European Tour titles: the 2005 Open de Madrid, the 2007 BMW Asian Open, the 2011 Sicilian Open, and the 2013 Open de España, where he secured a record-equaling win in a 9-hole playoff.
Jacquelin participated in 4 major championships, with an 8th-place finish at the 2011 Open Championship as his best result. He represented France in the World Cup of Golf and the Seve Trophy.
4. Patricia Meunier-Lebouc
Former professional golfer Patricia Meunier-Lebouc played on the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour. She was born on November 16, 1972, in Dijon, France. She was 13 when she began playing golf.
Meunier-Lebouc turned pro in 1994, securing her first Ladies European Tour win, the Waterford English Open, that same year. Qualifying for the LPGA Tour in 2000, she claimed her first victory in 2002 at the State Farm Classic. Her major career win came in 2003 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and she led the Women’s British Open after 3 rounds, finishing 5th.
Meunier-Lebouc represented France in 2000 and 2003. Retiring from professional golf in 2009, she became a golf instructor in Florida, USA, remaining active in promoting golf in France and supporting young golfers.
5. Marc-Antoine Farry
Marc-Antoine Farry is a French professional golfer who was born in Paris on July 3, 1959. He started playing golf at the age of 7 and turned professional in 1979.
He spent his early career as a teaching professional in Florida, USA. He was a full member of the European Tour from 1989 to 2004 and won one tournament on the tour, the 1996 BMW International Open. He also won 16 tournaments on the French domestic tour, including the 1985 and 2000 French PGA Championships.
He is currently playing on the European Senior Tour, where he has won two tournaments, the 2010 Handa Irish Senior Open and the 2010 Cannes Mougins Masters.
6. Jean van de Velde
Born in Mont-de-Marsan, France, in 1966, Jean Van de Velde turned pro in 1987. He joined the European Tour in 1989, securing his first win at the 1993 Roma Masters and twice landing in the top 20 of the Order of Merit. Additionally, he represented France in the World Cup and the Alfred Dunhill Cup.
Van de Velde’s defining moment occurred at the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland. Despite a 5-shot lead, a series of disastrous shots on the 18th hole led to a triple bogey seven. He became the first to lose a 3-shot lead on the final hole of a major championship.
Van de Velde played on the European Tour and the PGA Tour until 2012, retiring due to injuries. He has since joined the Legends Tour, the senior tour for European golfers, and has taken on roles as a golf commentator and analyst for various media outlets.
7. Jean Garaïalde
Born on October 2, 1934, in Ciboure, France, Jean Garaïalde started as a caddie for his father who was a golf instructor. He turned professional in 1952, winning 63 tournaments, including six on the European Tour.
Garaïalde won the 1969 French Open and beat Jack Nicklaus in the 1969 Swedish Open. He also clinched the Spanish, German, and Swedish Opens in 1969 and 1970. Dominating French golf, he secured 12 French PGA titles, 17 French Native Opens, and 12 French Professional Championships.
Jean Garaïalde represented the country 25 times in the World Cup from 1954. In 1992, he won the Turespaña Léman International Senior Trophy and tied for 11th in the Senior British Open Championship.
Jean Garaïalde is a true legend of French golf whose talent, perseverance, and character make him a role model and a source of national pride.
8. Gregory Havret
Born on November 25, 1976, in La Rochelle, France, Gregory Havret began golf at 8 years old, coached by his golf professional father. His amateur success includes 3 French Amateur Championship wins (1997-1999) and the 1999 European Amateur. Turning pro in 1999, he joined the European Tour in 2001.
Havret won his first European Tour title at the 2001 Italian Open and claimed his second at the 2007 Scottish Open. His third title came in 2008 at the Johnnie Walker Championship.
In the 2010 US Open, he finished second, a stroke behind Graeme McDowell, marking the best result by a Frenchman in a major since 1999.
Havret played in the World Cup of Golf 4 times and participated in the Seve Trophy thrice, contributing to the winning team in 2007.
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries and lived in 4 continents in the last 10 years, including France. A self-proclaimed Francophile, I love everything France.