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 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 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.
Date: October 12, 2018