Located next to the seaside resort of Domburg on the northwest coast of Walcheren, Domburgsche Golfclub was founded in 1914. The club’s 9-hole links is much the same today as it was more than a hundred years ago and it’s thought to be the oldest course in the Netherlands that still plays in its original format.
On July 23, 1921, the club hosted the eighth edition of the Dutch Open Championship, with reigning champion Henry Burrows from Royal Antwerp (who was formerly attached to the old Doornse Golf Club, the predecessor of De Pan) retaining his title. He would go on to win the event again at Hilversumsche in 1923.
In 1941 the course was confiscated by the occupying German army, with bunkers and a coastal battery established as part of the Atlantic Wall. These defences were heavily bombed in preparation for the Allied landing at Westkapelle on 1st November 1944 and the damage was so bad it took until 1955 before play resumed on the course.
The club’s nine holes have now been restored to their pre-war condition, with some of the large bomb craters converted into grass bunkers. In recent years, the course has been modified by Alan Rijks, with the architect’s efforts greatly contributing to Domburgsche’s credentials as an authentic links layout.
If you live on this side of the channel and want to experience links golf, there is no need to look at the other side; go to the Domburgsche.
It's maybe only 9 holes, it might be hard to book in summer, but when you stand on the first tee to start your round and feel the wind blowing straight in your face, you instantly realise how beautiful this simple game of golf is.
When we phone Domburg for our annual visit, we also ask for a seafood lunch being served in between rounds on the lovely little terrace nestled between the dunes along the 9th hole.
Golf at Domburg is a down-to-earth experience and never let's me down.
According to the rating guidelines between average and good, in my mind always well worth 5 stars ;-)
Those who know me know that I really like links golf. However, I must put a little question mark on the ranking of this course. Is really the consensus of informed opinion that there are only 21 better courses in the whole of the Netherlands? Or, does the justified reputation of country’s top three links courses (Haagsche, Noordwijk, Kennemer) drag this little, rugged jewel further up the ranking lists than what is actually warranted? I have not played enough courses in the Netherlands to do more than ask these perhaps impertinent questions .
Among the few I have played, however, is the Domburgsche. The reason I went out of my way to play it some years ago was not its ranking (not aware of it at the time) but because I had read the story about the links being bombed by the Allies during WWII and wanted to experience what grass bunkers made by the RAF looked and played like.
Crazy, sure, but I think you should approach a visit to the Domburgsche as the experience it represents. The actual golf course, taken out of its historical context, is quite basic, but I respect that the overall uniqueness of the experience might rank among the top 25 in the Netherlands for some.
Said to be the the only links course in Holland, presumably because you can see, hear, and feel the sea from a few of the tees. Domburg starts promising with a run of links-style holes that go out along the coast - a lovely view of a rumpled fairway on the opening tee shot, a blind shot on the second where you have the anticipation of where you might find your ball, and a fourth to a slightly angled fairway that reminded me of Gullane. The sixth starts coming back in and this is where my playing partner sliced it into the road and straight into the bonnet of a car speeding along the adjacent road.
The quality of the holes from here drops off a bit, although the par 3 eighth has a nice green and you have another blind drive on the 8th. Didn't like the drive on the 7th with water on the right, it felt a bit out of place on the course.
Domburg suffers for me because it's just 9 holes - never as interesting as 18 varied holes of the same quality - and because I think it could do with a few more bunkers to provide strategy and define a few of the holes. Having said this, it's pretty, windy, has punishing rough, leaves you with some fun shots, and the opportunity to play a running game.
If you are looking for something linksy in Holland and have already played The Haagsche, Noordwijk, and The Kennemer, then perhaps try Domburg. BB