The course at Golfclub de Dommel dates back to 1929, when Harry Colt’s design company fashioned the original 9-hole layout, which comprises holes 10 to 18 on the modern-day design.
Frank Pennink upgraded the course in the late 1970s, working mainly on the bunkers, before Joan Frederik Dudok van Heel added another three holes (the current 1st, 8th and 9th) in 1984.
Apart from some bunker and green improvements by Donald Steel, nothing of any great consequence happened with the extended 12-hole course until Frank Pont installed six new holes in 2004.
Today, a round here begins with a par three, followed by the six new millennium additions that were installed over a decade ago now.
The severely doglegged 8th is next – rated stroke index 1 on the card – before one of the three Dudok van Heel holes brings the front nine to an end.
The back nine then comprises the original Colt holes, with water coming into play at both the par three holes on the 11th and 17th.
In the beginning 'De Dommel' was just the old nine holes designed by Colt. Later it became twelve holes of which you played six holes twice to come to a full round of 18 holes. All holes were situated in the beautiful woodlands of the domain 'Zegenwerp'.
I started playing a few years ago (twelve hole set-up), as a members guest, and have been invited to play the course on a regular basis since then.
Golf was fun: never overly long, never overly difficult. But always a challenge to card a decent score: some holes require sufficient accuracy & length of the tee, the fairways are not very wide and the greens have subtle contours to master. And the picturesque clubhouse awaits you to cater for your 19th hole needs. De Dommel is a old fashioned little golf enclave for the members (and their guests).
In the ever present desire to become a proper 18 holes golf course, the golf club acquired some farmland across the road of the estate and six additional holes were created and 'De Dommel' became what they have dreamed of: a full-scale 18 holes golf course.
When the six holes opened for play in 2004, it was also the start of a long-lasting debate about the character of the added holes compared with the existing ones. I noticed that a lot of members stick to the original routing: going from hole 1 directly to hole 8, skipping the additional six holes. I assume that over time the new holes will blend in a bit better, although I must admit, it is a rather cramped piece of land for six proper golf holes.
Having said that, being a members guest for a day at De Dommel is a treat I will not turn down light hearted.
But if you are looking for a round of golf as a visitor, I would consider other alternatives.
I have a suspicion that De Dommel made the top 25 of the Netherlands based on their history and the quality of the original 9 holes, rather than their current 18 holes offering.
Extending golf courses from 9 to 18 holes very often proves to be tricky business. Especially when the original lay-out has taken the nicest parts of the available site, and has matured over a longer period of time. In The Netherlands we have several very nice 9 hole courses that were turned into very mediocre 18 hole courses. Sadly De Dommel is the latest example of this phenomenon.
De Dommel is a beautiful little gem. It used to be a 12 hole course in the forest, and these older holes are a delight to play, whereas the newer holes have a whole different character. Not that they are bad golf holes, but they are laid out on a rather small piece of moorland and tucked really close to each other on the farthest end of the course. Even with some maturing, they will never really fit in the traditional course. The course is short by modern standards, and a driver would be too much on most of the holes. There are some very tricky holes though with narrow fairways and sharp doglegs. The green complexes look great and the 17th is such a lovely signature hole. Don’t be fooled, if you make a mistake you’re likely to drop a shot . Definitely worth playing!