Discovering golf in The Netherlands

Condividere
06 luglio 2021
min. di lettura
Guillem Mataró
"You are going to the Netherlands for a golf trip?" "Are there any golf courses in the Netherlands?" These are some of the reactions from my friends when I announced my 2020 vacation destination. Yes, the Netherlands is a great golf destination that is absolutely unknown and underestimated by many golfers, at least in the area where I live.
Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands. (Photo by Callum Parker on Unsplash)
By Guillem Mataro – Spanish Ambassador Leading Courses

In the Netherlands you can find 4 of the 247 true links in the world, you can find 6 of the 30 best courses in continental Europe, many courses by great designers like Harry S.Colt and his classic Heathland course designs and practically everything is less than an hour away by car.
The Noordwijkse, one of the stunning links courses in The Netherlands. (Photo: Guillem Mataro)

Why do people don’t think of the Netherlands as a golf destination?

I will venture a couple of homegrown hypotheses: 
  1. Most of the top clubs called "The Old Nine" are private and in many ways very traditional. They accept visitors (and treat them very well) but they don't want large numbers of tourists either. Surely you get out for small groups (in some courses on restricted days and/or hours). Because of this, they are not on the circuits of the big golf tour operators.
  2. There has not been much "marketing" by the country nor big tournaments worldwide except for the very traditional KLM-Dutch Open but that is still a regular tournament of the European Tour, not a big focus of attention.

Why do I thi​​​​​nk it should be a more popular destination?

The Netherlands itself is already a great tourist destination, Amsterdam is one of the best known and most visited cities in Europe. For golfers who like to combine the game with culture and tourism, it is the ideal country. Due to its small size everything is relatively close and consists of large infrastructures that make the transfers very comfortable and fast. 
One of the many Canals in Utrecht. (Photo: Guillem Mataro)
I settled in a village with an almost unpronounceable name Roelofarendsveen, which as my good friend Leonard Van Nunen says turns out to be the epicenter of golf in the Netherlands. A quiet village perfectly situated to explore the country, the only trip of more than an hour was to Eindhoven, the rest was no more than 50 minutes.

Another advantage is that practically everyone speaks English, which is a good thing since Dutch is a very complicated language.

Beautiful villages to visit close by the main golf courses

There are many beautiful villages to visit just a few minutes away from the main golf courses. You can visit Haarlem in the morning and play Kennemer Golf & Country Club in the afternoon or combine the beautiful Leiden with Noordwijkse Golfclub and of course the essential Utrecht with the no less essential Utrechtse Golfclub 'De Pan'.
The Hooglandse Kerk (Church) in Leiden. (PeteBobb, via Wikimedia Commons)
From a strictly golfing point of view I had the possibility to play the best the country has to offer in terms of golf courses. In chronological order:

What surprised me about golf in The Netherlands

There are some aspects that surprised me and pleased how some of the arrivals to the fields through roads in the middle of lush forests and where at the end appears the beautiful oasis that is the golf course, here I would highlight especially De Pan, Noordwijkse and Royal Haagsche. Beautiful.

In most of the courses they offer the practice balls included in the price of the GF detail to thank.

Many of the clubhouses are in traditional style following the local architecture and are very beautiful and cozy. 

In general there is a very good club atmosphere among the players and the friendliness of all the staff is the order of the day. Great service.
The beautiful Clubhouse at The Eindhovensche. (Photo: Guillem Mataro)
The Proshops are basically functional, balls, tees, gloves, a polo or sweater and little else. Here you can see that they are not designed for the large influx of tourists. Those of us who like to buy souvenirs and clothes have it complicated. The best Royal Haagsche , Noordwijkse and Hilversumsche without doubt.

Another thing that surprised me and made me very pleased is the rhythm of play by the locals. Not a single game took me more than 4 hours, some of them being closer to 3:30. A pleasure to play at that pace.

The courses are not overcrowded (at least during the week when I played) but they are quite busy.

It is worth mentioning the tradition of ladies' Tuesdays. I do not know very well the reason but on Tuesday mornings in some clubs, the tee times are reserved exclusively (or almost) for ladies. I met with it in Eindhoven and when not knowing the concept did not understand anything but looked really good.

Dutch golf: old clubs or modern courses

In the Netherlands you will find old clubs (19th century) of the most traditional like Koninklijke Haagsche G&CC  (the only Royal in all the Netherlands), Utrechtse Golfclub 'De Pan', others from the early 20th century like Hilversumsche Golf Club which is the club that has hosted more times the Dutch Open throughout history and has great names among the winners there or Noordwijkse Golfclub also host professional tournaments.

But you will also find modern courses like The International and above all Bernardus. I am going to emphasize this last one very much since it is one of the places that has surprised me most pleasantly on the trip.
Magnificent Bernardus. (Photo: Leadingcourses.com)
I have to admit that before traveling, I only knew that Bernardus was going to host the KLM Open the coming years. When I began to investigate a little I discovered that they do not have a green fee as such, they have what they call a day membership. With a cost of €175  you are a member for all purposes of use of services and facilities for one day. You can play all you want, in my case I played two rounds (36 holes) in the day. 

You have the most spectacular short game area I have ever seen next to the best practice course I have ever been to in the Netherlands. As you finish in the locker room (where you have your locker) you will find a sauna, a steam bath and a relaxing room with a coffee machine and armchairs. In summer you also have a swimming pool. Between the laps (in my case) or at the end of the modern clubhouse you will also find a premium restaurant.

And it is necessary to mention the most exquisite attention on the part of all the staff that I found in all the trip.
And perhaps most importantly... the course itself. I personally loved the course, very much in the style of large modern courses like Cabot or Bandon, wide and undulating fairways with practically no rough but with large sandy areas like waste and several water hazards. Flat course easy to walk and very very pleasant to play.

Here you can read my review (just hit translate if you don't speak Spanish 😉).

Short par-4's

On this trip to the Netherlands I have rediscovered the pleasure of short par 4's (some of them under 300 meters) on almost all courses but especially on Harry Colt's designs there are one or several absolutely delicious short par 4's, in my opinion often the best holes on the course.

I will highlight some of the essential ones of which you will find more detailed explanations in my profile and reviews:
The 10th hole of Utrechtse Golfclub 'De Pan', stands out above all others, a real wonder in my opinion together with the 17th and 6th and 7th holes.
The 17th hole at De Pan, a terrific short par-4. (Photo: Guillem Mataro)
Other wonders are found at Koninklijke Haagsche G&CC  especially Hole 14, but without forgetting Holes 7-15-16

At Hilversumsche Golf Club you will find the beautiful Holes 2 and 12.

In Eindhovensche Golfclub the 2nd hole is very impresive in my humble opinion.

I declare myself a super fan of this type of holes where you have to decide the strategy to evaluate the risk/reward and not just to hit a bomb with the driver.
The 2nd hole at the Eindhovensche. (Photo: Guillem Mataro)

Visit The Netherlands!

So after all that I've told you, why not consider the Netherlands a premium golf vacation destination?You have True Links like in Scotland or Ireland, you have Heathland courses like in Surrey, beautiful Parklands.
You have big cities with huge and renowned museums, small charming villages, windmills... many beautiful windmills.

Although the local gastronomy would not be the most spectacular of the country, they do have some rich and typical things like the bitterballen (a kind of round croquettes) that you eat with mustard, the Stamppot (mashed potatoes with different vegetables and flavored with thyme or laurel) and the Stroopwafels (caramel waffles).
And all this you can find within an hour's drive.

Do not hesitate and prepare your golf trip to the Netherlands.
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Guillem Mataró

Guillem Mataró

Pharmacist that loves golf. Passionate about playing as many different courses as possible (especially links) and traveling worldwide with my clubs. Leadingcourses.com ambassador for 
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