Bernardus - Netherlands

Bernardus,
Deutersestraat 39D,
5266 AW Cromvoirt,
The Netherlands


  • +31 73 203 41 41


Dutch entrepreneur Sander van Gelder – who ruled the roost at the Portuguese resort of Vale de Lobo for three decades until he sold out 2006 – was originally the man behind the development of this golf facility at Cromvoirt in the North Brabant province.

After van Gelder withdrew from the enterprise, everything stood still for a few years until 2016 when another even more successful businessman, Robert van der Wallen, stepped in to finish what had been started five years previously.

Additional land was acquired then architect Kyle Phillips (who co-designed the well-regarded Lage Vuursche course near Utrecht at the start of the new millennium) was brought in to oversee what had now become a big budget project.

The fairways lie on an ancient sandy plain so scraping back the top few metres of dirt revealed a sandy sub strata underneath. After mining this subterranean layer, the vacant space left behind was filled with the excavated top soil before the extracted sand was then spread over everything, effectively swapping the two seams.

To accelerate the ageing process, many acres of native heather were transplanted to fringe tee boxes and soften transition areas around green sites, quickly establishing a real heathland feel and gaining an overnight maturity to match that of the specimen trees dotted around the course.

Water comes into play at several holes, most notably on the front nine where a couple of lakes feature prominently at the 2nd, 7th and 8th. A deep, wide ditch also exits a smaller pond on the 17th and runs alongside the 18th before cutting diagonally across the fairway in front of the home green.

Bunkers are the most visual element of the design, both at the edge of fairways and around the greens, with large, ragged-edged sand traps sculpted into little ridges to help protect par around beautifully contoured putting surfaces. Aesthetically stimulating, these steep-faced bunkers are "proper" hazards that not only look great, they play much tougher than players might think.

Bernardus is actually divided into three inter-connected “compartments”. The first of these areas contains the futuristic clubhouse complex, an enormous practice facility and eight-room lodge, all of which lie close to holes 1, 9, 17 and 18. The other two sections of the course are then split equally, between the more aquatic holes (2 to 8) and the remaining holes in the northeast portion of the property (10 to 16).

Shortly after a soft opening in the summer of 2018, it was announced that the club would host three editions of the KLM Open on the European Tour from 2020 onwards, allowing elite professionals, on site spectators and a large television audience the chance to see just what an estimated 50 million euro investment looks like.

And for golfers who wish to sample the “member for a day” playing experience for themselves – paying a reasonably-priced day ticket rate to play a prestigious, rather than an exclusive golf course – then Bernardus is worth every cent of the visitor fee currently being charged.

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Reviews for Bernardus

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Description: Shortly after a soft opening in the summer of 2018, it was announced that Bernardus would host three editions of the KLM Open on the European Tour from 2020 onwards... Rating: 7.6 out of 10 Reviews: 5
TaylorMade
Fraser

To start with the summary: this is the best course I have played in The Netherlands. I've been lucky to play some of the tradional "oude negen" (Pan, Haagsche, Noordwijkse, Kennemer, Noord Nederlandse) and some of the new premium courses (Dutch, International, Laage Vuursche), but this is my new favourite. One immediate plus point in its favour is that you can actually play it. Yes its expensive (€185 for a day membership) but you can phone up and reserve and don't have to wait for a member to invite you. I was struggling to think of any negatives, but dragged up a couple before I let the superlatives start flowing: 1) When we came off the course we were initially told that we couldnt sit for a drink on the terrace as they had laid the table for dinner. It was 16.45 and 75% of the tables were empty. Luckily I was with two Dutchmen and they told the staff what they thought of that and it was quickly resolved. But a strange initial reaction to your paying guests. 2) There was indeed some building/land clearance work going on just outside the course. Didn't really affect the game but if we are quibbling.. 3) the pro v1 balls on the practice range were slightly scuffed.

When the scuff marks on the pro v1 range balls is a top 3 quibble then you know that you are at a quality venue. The conditioning of the course and the extensive practice area are excellent. I initially thought some of the practice holes were part of a par 3 course and the driving range could be a fairway on some Dutch courses. The course itself was a joy to play. We had mixed handicaps (6, 9 and 22) and played from the 6000m tees and all of us enjoyed the challenge. As a visitor the course is "in front of you" with very few tricks or blind shots that can somewhat spoil a first round at some courses. If you hit a good shot then you can get on the greens in regulation and the greens are so pure that a good putt will also reward you. Miss the fairway then you will usually find your ball in the rough but the lie is a 50/50 gamble: could be great or could be in a hollow and you are chipping back to the fairway. I found all the holes interesting and varied, certainly more so than the Dutch, and the surroundings are peaceful and scenic enough. The "oude negen" would win on scenery, with the final green and clubhouse at the Haagse the best in The Netherlands.

Part of the experience at Bernardus are the food and wine. We had a glass of the excellent Chardonnay mid-round and a bottle of the superb rosé with dinner. The food from the restaurant is first class and the staff were very friendly and professional. As were the staff at reception and on the course. None of the issues you can sometimes come up against playing as a visitor at the more exclusive clubs. Maybe one of the advantages of the member-for-a-day concept.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a day of excellent golf, combined with first class food and drink then this is the best The Netherlands has to offer. I will definitely be back and paying the €185 with a big smile on my face!

July 15, 2022
9 / 10
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BB
July 16, 2022

Fraser - this is a glowing review. Is there nothing that Bernardus (the course) could improve upon?

Oscar Balhuizen

We treated ourselves to the 'member for a day' experience at Bernardus, comprising of: two rounds of golf, lunch & dinner.

I fully agree with earlier reviews that the level of maintenance and overall professionalism is at the highest standards and the practise area is second to none.

The green complexes are indeed well designed and constructed, but I could not suppress the feeling some design-ideas where repeated once to often and the stimp could not have been higher than 8 on the day we played. I found the routing pretty weak throughout the whole course and the noise and dust of the rubble breaking operation in the North West corner pretty present on a couple of holes.

I have never been a real fan of The Dutch, but I would rank the overall golf experience at The Dutch above Bernardus at this moment (and a handful of 'oude negen' courses as well). But I'm only an enthusiastic amateur, not a golf design expert.

If the Dutch Open is being played at Bernardus, I wonder if the professionals will pick Bernardus or The Dutch as their preferred venue. Given the overall design and total lack of rough around the holes, I'm pretty sure they won't need much to break the best winning overall score at the Dutch Open (2016, The Dutch, Joost Luiten, -/- 19)

Of course we enjoyed our day at Bernardus, but I believe the course is currently overrated when compared to the top venues of the Netherlands: I'm not sure if it is world-class and it wouldn't be on my itinerary if I had to choose only 5 rounds of golf the Netherlands.

September 07, 2021
5 / 10
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BB

Bernardus goes straight to the very top of modern Dutch golf courses in my conceited opinion. I prefer it to The International, Lage Vuursche, Swinkelsche, and Stippelberg. I’ve not played The Dutch or The Duke, but I don’t expect them to offer more.

Fairly generous off of the tee, albeit Bernardus Golf Course - Photo by reviewer usually with a preferred side of the fairway to find, this course really comes alive with the variety of the green complexes. Hitting into and around them is both thought-provoking and fun. The 3rd is a great example of this, with its right to left sloping perched green protected by a treacherous run off to the left.

The shaping throughout is very good and they have executed well on what I imagine was a significant construction budget. Playing conditions were fairly firm when I played, meaning you had the option to run some shots in as you might on a heathland. The illusion is not yet fully convincing though as the heather they’ve planted has not established itself at all, giving the rough a kind of burned wasteland look to them (which I didn’t mind). I don’t think 3 years of hosting the KLM Bernardus Golf Course - Photo by reviewer Open are going to help improve things aesthetically in this regard. The routing is very much back & forth, and this is perhaps one area where Bernardus isn’t as strong as some of its contemporary rivals. Admittedly, the size of the property doesn’t really allow for anything with a more natural flow though.

The facilities and overall experience here are very strong, and the “member for a day” approach they’ve taken is pretty interesting. The course isn’t a six ball rating as one reviewer suggests, but it doesn’t have to be to stand out amongst its local rivals. If you’re planning a golf trip to The Netherlands, supplementing 3-4 of the Oude Negen courses with a day at Bernardus would certainly not be a waste of your time

September 29, 2019
8 / 10
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Peter Wood

Bernardus Golf & Memories is a new course designed by Kyle Phillips which opened for play in 2018. It will host the KLM Dutch Open from 2020 onwards for at least 3 years.

Without any significant elevation change through the property Philips has relied on some artful sculpting of the sand base to create a lovely heathland course.

The heather needs to mature Bernardus Golf Course - Photo by reviewer but the bunkering and green complexes are first class and have a natural look.

One presumes the original landscape was dead flat, but the finished result has a rolling links feel without any significant elevation change – that's impressive!

Despite the 'linksy' feel, the best holes involved water, and added that element of ‘will I, won’t I’ that makes a game more interesting.

Bernardus is a private members club, but currently allows a small number of visitors to become 'members for the day'. It’s a world-class course with world-class facilities and will only get better as it matures over the next few years.

Now is the time to take any opportunities to play!

Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.

August 10, 2019
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

I saw the partially built course at Bernardus last year when quite a few holes had still to be shaped so it was a real thrill to return last week to see all eighteen holes in action. The course is accompanied by a stunning, multi-level clubhouse/restaurant plus a massive short game area and driving range comprising the finest practice facility in the country.

It’s easy to see that this place has been built to a very high standard, with no expense spared either on or off the course. I understand there’s a small membership of only a hundred (and a waiting list of Bernardus Golf Course - Photo by reviewer around 120) and the expected number of rounds per annum is anticipated to be only around ten thousand, which will probably just about cover the running costs.

Fescue has been planted throughout, with heather transplanted around tee boxes and greens to accentuate the layout’s heathland credentials. Greens have plenty of contour – though there’s nothing too outlandish going on in that important area – and the irregularly-edged bunkers are just a visual delight, set into the edges of many fairways and around most of the greens.

Several holes on the front nine bring water into play (holes 7, 8 and 9 in particular) as fairways are routed around a couple of large irrigation lakes. The toughest of these holes is the par five 7th, doglegging right to an elevated green that’s separated from the water hazard by a long, rather intimidating bunker.

Holes 10 to 16 on the back nine occupy their own distinct “compartment” and collectively they form the strongest section of Bernardus Golf Course - Photo by reviewer the course for me. The par three 13th might appear a little constricted because of the enormous waste bunker, narrow ditch and line of trees that all run along the right side of the hole from tee to green but it’s a great short hole that was worth squeezing into a tight space along the edge of the property.

It’s refreshing to see Bernardus buck the trend of recent new high-end courses in The Netherlands by not becoming an exclusively private operation. For a substantial, but not outrageous green fee, visitors can pay and play at what is undoubtedly one of the best golf facilities to open in recent times on the continent of Europe and the club is to be commended for allowing access to serious golfers.

As the KLM Open is due to be played here in two years, now’s the time to see what the top professionals will be up against when they tee it up at Cromvoirt in 2020. For sure, Bernardus will soon be regarded as yet another top class design in the extensive, high-quality portfolio of architect Kyle Phillips.

Jim McCann

October 12, 2018
8 / 10
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