Belgium’s Thomas Detry brings ‘bucket list’ mentality to second go at Games

Thomas Detry is no stranger to representing his country on the world stage.

As an amateur, he played for Belgium in five European Boys’ Team Championships, competed in the Eisenhower Trophy three times and played in the European Team Championship twice. He teamed with Thomas Pieters to win the 2018 World Cup, as well.

But winning a gold medal at the Olympics? Well, that would be next level – and Detry will have a chance to do just that in France this summer at Le Golf National.

“For Belgium, it would mean everything,” Detry said. “When you think of golf, you don't think gold medal because it only recently was re-added as an Olympic sport. So yeah, being able to bring a gold medal, I mean, it means everything.

“When you see how big of a deal it was for Justin (Rose) and Xander Schauffele to win that gold medal, I think it it'll be a true honor for my country and for myself and for everything. And I think it's really something that's on my bucket list.”

This summer will actually mark Detry’s second Olympics. He tied for 16th in the 2020 Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan. But he’ll go to Paris with a wealth of course knowledge that he didn’t have four years ago.

Le Golf National, which sits near Versailles, is located about 200 miles from Uccle, the Brussels suburb where Detry grew up. The Albatros course has hosted the Open de France on the DP World Tour all but two years since 1991, as well as the 2018 Ryder Cup. And Detry has played the Open de France five times, with his best finish being a T8 in 2019. He finished T35 last year at Le Golf National and has missed the cut only once, in 2017.

The 31-year-old has been playing well in his second full season on the PGA TOUR, notching three top 10s including a runner-up finish at the Texas Children’s Houston Open in March. It’s been a natural leap for Detry following six full seasons on the DP World Tour, where he collected 10 top-three finishes between 2017 and 2022 and another 20 finishes inside the top 10. To date, he has one international win – at the 2016 Bridgestone Challenge on the European Challenge Tour.

“It's just a good overall test when the course is well prepared with firm greens and high rough,” said Detry, who posted his most recent top 10 at the Zurich Classic, where he finished T8 with partner Robert MacIntyre. “You’ve just got to be sharp with every single part of your game. … So, I think that's why I like it. It's tough, but it's fair.”

When the Olympic men’s competition begins on Aug. 1, Detry expects to see lots of friends and family in the gallery at Le Golf National. First and foremost, will be his wife and two young daughters cheering him on.

Likely joining him on the Belgian team will be 24-year-old Adrien Dumont de Chassart, who is currently 45th in the Olympic Golf Ranking. Although Detry is seven years older, both players went to the University of Illinois and share the same swing coach.

“I've learned to know Adrian better and better, and now that he's on the PGA TOUR, as well,” Detry said. “… It's fun to obviously share some experiences that we've had with our coach, Mike Small, from Illinois. … We have the same swing coach as well.

“So, I think it'll be a fun little team atmosphere and I think we're going to have a lot of fun.”

And Detry already knows where to take Dumont de Chassart for dinner. He favors a restaurant called La Maison de Mana near the Palace of Versailles that is frequented by many DP World Tour players during the Open de France. He knows just what he’ll order, too.

“It's just amazing restaurant that has all sorts of meat,” Detry said. “And they sell something called escargot, which are small little snails, and those are pretty good. It feels a bit weird just to say that you're eating snails, but the way they cooked and the way they presented to you is a very lovely dish.”

Detry also plans to get to Paris early and is hoping to be able to attend some of the other Olympic events at the Games. Four years ago, the world was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all competitions were contested without spectators.

“I'm looking forward to really enjoy the full Olympics atmosphere,” Detry said. “… I haven’t really experienced the (athlete) village. (I want to) enjoy some time off, watch some other sports as well. I would really love to do that.

“I'm good friends with a couple of hockey players. Field hockey is a big sport in Belgium, so I'm really good friends with them. So, I would love to go and see a couple of their games and I don't know, tennis. Tons of different sports. I mean there's so many different sports that, yeah, a bit of everything.