In 1996, four good friends and golf professionals (who lived in The Netherlands), sat in front of a warm fire at Loch Lomond and formed a golf company called Made in Scotland that aspired to improve the game they loved in the Netherlands. This humble beginning would later lead to the expansion of their company along with the realization of their dream to create a world-class golf experience that would compete with the top golf courses in Continental Europe.
Made in Scotland worked together with Colin Montgomerie and Ross McMurray of European Golf Design (which is a joint venture between IMG and the European Tour) to create a course that would live up to the high standards necessary to host European Tour events. On the 14th of May 2011, The Dutch officially opened and was then put forward in the country’s bid to host the 2018 Ryder Cup. Unfortunately for the Netherlands, France won the Ryder Cup bid, but the infrastructure and facilities developed at The Dutch remain a lasting legacy and are pitched at a level capable of all the demands required to host any large-scale professional golf event.
The Dutch also represents a completely different kind of golf experience to anything that previously existed in the Netherlands. The level of service and the quality of facilities, from the practice areas to the meeting rooms and locker rooms are second to none. The club was formed as a place where business meets golf, where companies pamper clients and build relations in a very special environment. The Dutch is a rare treat for the lucky members and their invited guests.
Apparently styled in the fashion of an inland links, The Dutch features links-like bunkering, undulating green complexes and diverse, burn-like water hazards. The entire facility is set up for the hosting of European Tour events, at least the main Netherlands stop... the KLM Open was destined to be staged here at some point. The Dutch is really the only venue in the Netherlands that has the perfect facilities, space and infrastructure to easily and logistically host these events, which makes perfect sense given the club was a potential Ryder Cup venue and was designed as such.
In 2016 The Dutch was duly rewarded as host venue for the KLM Open, which historically has always been contested on a classic links or heathland course. Home favourite Joost Luiten won the event, becoming the first Dutchman to win his national Open twice. Frenchman Romain Wattel won the 2017 tournament and China’s Wu Ashun lifted the trophy in 2018. The KLM Open relocates from The Dutch to The International at Schiphol Airport in 2019 to commemorate the airline’s centenary and the 100th edition of the Dutch Open.The Dutch is very private club, extremely private even for the standards of The Netherlands. Therefore, even if you are coming from overseas and call ahead or write in advance, you won’t get a game unless you know a member or have a corporate contact.
The Dutch is billed as an “Inland Links”, but it isn’t. There are some tricky burns crossing fairways/greens and an unexpected prevalence of Oyster Catchers, but that’s as far as it goes. You see, there is a certain shame to being a “Polder Course”. Saying you’re playing one is like admitting you’ve named your son Adolf or Boris.
For those of you without a Geography degree (or “van” prefixing your surname, preferably by birth), a Polder is reclaimed land that was once flooded. By definition it’s usually flat, silty, and often remains surrounded by a lot of water. Not ideal golfing terrain. Polder Courses feel endemic to The Netherlands like acne scars on a teenage boy.
I have played many Polder type courses here in Holland and many of them are terrible. Much of the better land in NL - for there is an abundance of dunes & fantastic heathland - is protected via Environmental regulation, which leaves many Dutch golfers to make do with the Polders. Where is Donald Trump & the Scottish government when you actually need them?
However, The Dutch is an exception to this rule. That’s right. It is an Uber/Elite version of a Polder Course. It confirms that with a bit of design smarts & lots of cash you can create a good golf course. While I’m having this epiphany, I should also mention that apparently generic name “The Dutch” used to make me roll my eyes - more than “Polder Course” does for others. Post-epiphany I have to admit it is a much more relevant name than I’d initially assumed. I agree with the previous reviewer on this point. No less appropriate than “National Golf Links” perhaps. My humble opinion is that as the course gets older they should be bolder in showing pride for the Polder. Having created a Polder Course this good is no small achievement and there is no need to call it an “Inland Links”.
The interest on the tee shot is fine - better than at Bernardus and comparable to Lage Vuursche - but for me it’s the green complexes that make the course. Via a combination of undulation and speed, coupled with an anxiety not to miss the target, they are challenging and memorable. We had some daring up & downs to make from short grass & run off areas – which was a lot of fun. They’ve clearly invested money here and sometimes you get what you pay for.
The excellent conditioning and presentation also cannot be ignored and highlights how important this can be to elevate a course. I normally enjoy firm & fast conditions, but I don’t think that would fit here. For one thing, I would have had more balls running off of the fairway into water. The H2O is very much in play and visible but it won’t kill the average golfer - i.e. me. The fairways have plenty of width and usually a safer side (consequence of which is a more difficult next shot).
The routing is not the most inspiring walk, but this was designed as a tournament course and that calibre of golfer probably isn’t looking around checking out landforms, biodiversity, and considering taking his dog for a walk. In all seriousness though, this must always be the case when you purchase a new parcel of land in a small wealthy country like NL. I think they’ve done a better job with the routing than at Bernardus (which can feel restrictive) and despite being tetris-shaped, the holes themselves never feel cramped. The green to tee walks were fine and I also can’t remember more than 2 consecutive holes playing in the same direction. But to Bill Coore’s routing qualifier/question “how would you walk the land if there was no golf course there?”, at The Dutch the answer might be that you’d walk over to the (excellently appointed) clubhouse and have a beer.
There is plenty of hole variety on offer here and that will really help with giving the course a lasting appeal for regular visitors. Some examples:
Hole 1: Avoid water on right off tee, with left giving better angle to green. No bunker protecting this safe side, therefore a gentle handshake.
Hole 2: Things immediately get interesting here as you have a choice on the tee - bite off more of water to leave easier approach, or play safe to the left but face a longer shot in. This tee decision repeats on a few of the following holes.
Hole 3: Well bunkered shortish par 4, with bunkers imposing on landing zone. If you can fly them you’ll gain an advantage.
Hole 4: Big green for a shortish hole. Would like to have seen more challenging recovery shots should you miss. Later holes have this, but maybe it’s good pacing not to have a difficult par 3 so early in the round (here’s looking at you De Goyer).
Hole 5: First time I missed a fairway, and promptly left my second shot in there too. Warning heeded.
Hole 6: I am omitting describing this hole, as above I suggest only “some examples” would follow.
Hole 7: Proper short Par 4 of around 330 yards, with a few options from the tee. Water fronting the green will discourage mere mortals from having a go, but it must have been entertaining during the KLM Opens
Hole 8: Interesting green at this mid length par 3. My ball ran through the back and I may as well have taken a tent & sleeping bag with me. Avoid this spot if you can.
Holes 9-11: Ditto Hole 6. This isn’t one of those reviews of all 18 holes.
Hole 12: Another enjoyable shortish Par 4. Not sure this one is driveable, but you almost get a tantalising glimpse of the green. If you’re not in perfect position on the fairway, be warned there’s water in a depression fronting the green (this was my one lost ball).
Hole 13: Striking raised green dominates the hole in the distance, rising up like a Volcano (calm down, not suggesting it’s a template). You almost want to miss it on any side so that you can challenge yourself to the up & down attempt.
Holes 14 & 15: You get the picture now.
Hole 16: Good time in a match to put in a significant water carry with a Par 3. Squeaky bum time (I closed my eyes & nailed it - just).
Hole 17: Perhaps the best short Par 4 on the course. You must hit the fairway and the left bunker is really a distraction - you want to be near the water on the right to have a chance at the relatively shallow green that is angled away from you.
Hole 18: Nice closing hole - decisions off the tee and also for the second shot. Want to hit the green in 2? Good luck Bryson.
As I try to recall the holes now, I realise some of them were very worthy, and the finish 16-18 is particularly strong.
In terms of constructive criticism, I would suggest 2 aesthetic things: Some of the artificial fairway mounding was a little too “pointy” on a couple of the holes. It is mostly well done, so on these holes it then becomes noticeable. Apparently it does settle with time. The other item was a bank of reeds on #12 – which disguised the tee shot a little and partially hid the green. I’d like to have clearly seen the bunker complex and have a glimpse of the direct route (before taking the safe option). This would provide a bit more temptation to go for the green. Previous reviewer also calls this out. Other than this, I probably won’t criticise The Dutch for not being an ancient windswept links course on the west coast of Scotland. Accept it for what it is - and not what it isn’t - and you will enjoy it.
This is Top 10 NL in for me, perhaps #9 at best. The Dutch as such is not a particularly soulful natural experience - so don’t expect that (I didn’t). It’s value proposition as a playing experience is good: A strong test offering ample hole variety, best in class presentation, and good greens. A quick mention too of the service levels & practice facilities - they are outstanding. This isn’t my thing as I usually rush from the car to the first tee and then immediately speed from the final hole to back in my car before my wife notices I’ve gone - but it’s important to some people, so I should call it out.
If you can get on for a round at The Dutch (good luck), do it. It is an elite experience and offers a welcome contrast to the more natural courses in the country. Rumour even has it that George Peper & Malcolm Campbell are preparing a sequel to their True Links book, detailing the world’s 246 True Polder Courses (all of them in Holland). The Dutch will be the first course featured.
It was my first time visiting this club. We were made very welcome by the staff. The presentation of the club and the course is unique in the country and it is the best asset of the club. Every detail is taken care of. If you can practice here year round, you’re a lucky person because the facilties are of the highest order. The club certainly reflects character. where I found that De Lage Vuursche had a stiff, stand-offish atmosphere. The Dutch deserves praise for becoming the first club in the Netherlands to fill the niche it created in the country, or the gap it filled if you will.
The Dutch is a proper test of golf for players of all abilities, and a very suitable playground for either matchplay or strokeplay events. Water comes into play on many holes, but there is always a safe(r) route. The course has a good variety of heroic, strategic and penal shots and holes and thus provides interest in the sense you’ll need more than to hit your trusty 7 iron straight through to score well. You can’t opt blindly for your driver on the tee, as there are some nasty creeks cross the fairways that will gladly accept your teeshot, or angles. The Dutch is surprisingly good a keeping the interest of the golfer and that is an achievement given the flatness of the land.
There are some tricky narrow holes like the 12th and the 17th, meandering through creeks and lakes to keep the golfer’s attention. The 12th is worthy of remark given it has the potential to be one of the best holes visually. I’d describe it as a semi-Cape hole, but one that does not favour to bite off many meters. There’s a big bush of gorse that prevents you from seeing the green and to trick you into taking risk, even though the patch of fairway in the far corner is very small and guarded by bunkers, water and the mentioned gorse. It’s a deceiving hole but its not used to it’s full potential. All players in our foursome felt so. The finish is rather good with plenty of hazards and a variety of shot options and risk/reward shots. The fragmented but edgy property does not provide for an inspired routing, but Montgomerie probably made the best out of it. Does make you wonder with such a high budget, why the founders didn’t opt for a bigger property to increase the scale of the course.
A particularly strong part of the course I think are the green complexes. The contours, that are somewhat inconsistently shaped, the fast and true rolling undulated greens and steep runoffs make for some very interesting shots around the greens. Although they do not have a particularly natural feel and somewhat inconsistent, they are fun. You’ll need plenty of creativity and skills to scramble. You’ll need more than one round to figure out the slopes and lines of play.
For me, the Dutch sneaks into my current top 10 in the country but I can’t imagine it will ever move up on that list. There’s definitely room for improvement with some small tweaks here and there. I doubt that the image it created is serving the club well, as the polder conditions resemble anything but Scottish links. I’m afraid the Swilcan Bridge replica on the 18th or even the impressive bushes of gorse do not change this. The Dutch might sound like a pretentious name, but I have to admit it makes perfect sense, as I challenge you to find some nature that’s more quintessentially Dutch than the Dutch, although a windmill seems to be absent. The meadow birds and herons flying around will agree.
The Dutch is a modern, private and very exclusive club and it is a privilege to be invited to play. Everything about the club is first class – the service, clubhouse, dining, and course maintenance are all superb.
And the course is challenging with water and bunkers constantly demanding decisions.
The 'chocolate drop' mounds around the course, designed to add interest to a site that is pancake flat, are not to my taste. They look artificial.
Despite this the course won me over with a succession of strategic holes demanding decisions on line and length.
There are quite a number of interesting holes, and it's fun to play. This is a course you would be happy to play on repeat!
Cosy up to a member and get invited!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I visited The Dutch only three weeks after the KLM Open had been held on the course so I knew I was playing a new track with an impressive championship pedigree which had hosted a European Tour event for three successive years. Still, for those who like their golf to be of the egalitarian variety then they won’t be playing here as this place is modelled on exclusivity. If you do secure an invitation through a member or you’re here on a corporate ticket, then you’ll experience quite the pampered golfing day out.
All the peripheral stuff is top notch. On arrival, your car is parked and your golf bag left at the practice area, allowing you to get ready in the sumptuous locker room. After your round, the extremely comfortable clubhouse is just the perfect place to relax and have a bite to eat before heading home. If reviews were based on service and off-course amenities then The Dutch would be up there with the very best of them. None of these extraneous factors can be taken into account here, however, so a proper appraisal of the golf facility has to focus entirely on what’s between the 1st tee and the 18th green.
With that in mind, it should be said at the outset that it’s something of a minor miracle for a course of its standard to ever be built on such a flat piece of land, with fairways laid out in two adjacent “compartments”: the 1st hole and holes 8-18 occupy the main portion of the property and holes 2-7 lie to north of this area. Presumably, the construction of the interconnected ponds produced enough fill to create most of the course contouring, especially around the green sites, which have obviously been well-built, offering plenty of interesting recovery options around the putting surfaces.
Looking back on my notes for the separate section (#2 to #7), I only remarked on the huge swale to the left of the 3rd green and the punchbowl green on the 4th green as that was really all that took my eye on a functional, but rather uninspiring stretch of holes. Moving onto the main part of the course, things seemed to move up another gear, with the par threes at the 8th and 10th getting full marks from me. The second of these short holes plays across the large pond that’s closest to the clubhouse and the aquatic element on this hole provides a knee-trembling start to the back nine.
In actual fact, the 10th hole is good preparation for what’s to come at nearly every hole on the back nine – the comparatively benign par three 14 is the only one that doesn’t feature a water hazard of some description. Ditches running alongside then cutting across fairways and ponds protecting the front of greens are the norm on the inward half so astute course management is absolutely paramount on this nine or you might well become disillusioned and run out of golf balls very quickly.
Don’t expect to play an “inland links” at the Dutch as it’s not got the firm and fast playing characteristics required of such a course, though the green contouring, greenside bunkers and shaggy mounding imbue it with links-like qualities both on and around the putting surfaces. I’m not so sure I’d want to have my handicap tested to the extent that it would be if I was a member playing here all the time but maybe the almost constant threat of severely depleting your golf ball inventory is the sort of incentive required to sharpen up your game!
I played in the Dutch Senior Masters at The Dutch near Rotterdam last autumn. The main event is a similar format to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where an amateur is paired with a pro and the best score counts in a two-day (Fri-Sat) team competition.
My game largely deserted me for the two days but the slothful pace of play over the rounds gave me plenty of time to study the course and subsequently vent my frustration generally about slow play: From The Cradle to the grave
I’ve been debating whether or not to write a review for The Dutch, as I don’t like the course. Given that I was graciously invited it felt rude and ungrateful to write a negative post. Having thought about my experience for twelve months, I now feel able to stick my head above the parapet.
There’s no denying The Dutch is a good course, which has been well built. The location and the land are unremarkable for golf, comprising of two dull, flat fields set several metres below sea level with a peat substructure. Remarkably the course drains well. It rained cats and dogs on the Saturday and there was no standing water whatsoever. The build comprised of lightweight air-filled concrete under greensites and polystyrene filled mounds to reduce weight. Millions of cubic metres of soil was shipped in to raise the low-lying ground and for shaping. The result is high quality and should be generously applauded. However, there’s nothing compelling about the architecture, although I felt the greensites were well done. Everything is quality through and through, from the tee boxes, bunkering and greens to the wonderful clubhouse. But I found the course soulless and lacking in character. It’s a “been there, seen it before” kind of experience which left me both impressed (in terms of what has been achieved) but distinctly underwhelmed.
The client company, Made in Scotland, may well have commissioned two Scots to design the course (Colin Montgomerie and Ross McMurray of European Golf Design) but The Dutch is diametrically opposed to Scottish golf and I think a trick was missed. The design is supposed to be a nod to an inland links – I saw nothing remotely reminiscent of a links course, either in look or playability. Maybe they should have taken a 200-kilometre trip east to Germany. The Links course at Winston (whose owners coincidentally are also Dutch) may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly looks like a links and will be remembered. Which is more than can be said about The Dutch. On the other hand, the coffee was excellent, but more impressive was the patience shown by my pro partner, Mark Davis, who not only carried me like an awkward sack of potatoes but was also great company.
So four good friends sat in front of a warm fire at Loch Lomond (Made in America?) and formed a Golf company (Made in Scotland), that aspired to improve the game they loved (which was arguably Made) in The Netherlands.
I wonder how much whisky they’d gotten through that day, because I can’t quite see what this course does to improve the game in Holland. Except perhaps by improving standards of conditioning and service (appreciated by the few who manage to get a game here). Although noted that the green sites are highlighted as a positive...
...and admittedly I’ve not even played The Dutch. However, the reporting back from several friends who have are pretty much aligned with this review. At least the coffee was good though!
Are there any changes you think they could make to the course that would raise the architectural bar/interest levels?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the architecture, it’s just not my style. Even if I was qualified I wouldn’t suggest making any changes. It is what it is and I’m sure it has achieved and perhaps exceeded the founders’ expectations. The only thing I’d change is the “inland links” marketing – it’s a misnomer. But maybe the term fits more comfortably for the likes of Sand Hills and Ballyneal, both of which look and play like a links.
Good point on the inland links marketing - would make it easier to appreciate The Dutch for what it is and not what it isn't.
And I should be more positive and not submit comments like those above when I've been drinking too much Whisky myself.
A day at the Dutch is really a unique experience, which up until now has not been equaled in the Netherlands. It all starts when you drive up to the manned entrance house and gate. Here you are immediately met by a gentleman with a smile on his face and clipboard in hand, something that rarely happens in Holland unless there is a police officer issuing a speeding ticket or a utilities company meter reader knocking on your door to penalize you for excessive use of lighting during the dark winters. This gentleman welcomes you and checks you off the guest list. As you drive down the approach to the beautiful clubhouse, the very best practice facilities in the Netherlands appear to your right and you sense a great day is in store. Two young men meet you and welcome you, asking you to leave your clubs in the car and just take your clothes into the clubhouse. They inform you that when you are ready your clubs will be waiting at the practice facility. This is a rather unique level of service in golf and reminiscent of some very special places… Whistling Straits, Bandon Dunes, Shoreacres and Loch Lomond spring to mind.
As you make your way into the clubhouse it is evident that an enormous amount of attention has been paid to the fine details here at the Dutch. On top of that it’s clear that no expense has been spared with the furnishings from the quaint whiskey and cigar room, equipped with private lockers for the members, to the cozy meeting rooms, Board Room and library. Various paintings, maps and old golf collectibles decorate the walls, many with the purpose of drawing as many parallels as possible between the Netherlands and Scotland – arguably the two homes of golf.
Of all the features the clubhouse has to offer, the men’s dressing room is unquestionably the most memorable as it’s one of only a few in the world that has a fully equipped bar taking your orders and offering drinks upon entrance. With lounging chairs all around and flat screen TV’s in abundance, a trip to the men’s room takes on new meaning here at the Dutch. It provides the perfect setting to tempt your opponent into a few pre-round drinks to establish that ever so important competitive edge.
The practice range is where I could easily spend my day. First of all, it’s one of the few in the Netherlands where you can practice from real turf instead of mats. The balls are stacked and waiting, both at the chipping and pitching range as well as the driving range. As always, a trip to the first tee is not complete without a stop at the putting green. At the Dutch, this is an absolute must and it will shock most golfers because the greens are incredibly fast and very undulating. In my opinion, The Dutch is the only course in the Netherlands with world-class green complexes and I was personally thrilled with them. I honestly didn’t think that any club in club in Holland would build greens as good as these – if anyone gets the chance to play this course, I’d highly recommend paying very close attention to their features. I think greens are an essential element that separates good and world-class courses. It’s also one reason why there are only a couple of courses in Continental Europe that ever make the World Top 100. Review by David Davis (Top 100 Benelux correspondent) - click here to read the full story.