If De Pan is Holland’s antwoord to Swinley Forest, then might Eindhoven be a Dutch cousin of Sunningdale New? It’s slightly less pretty and slightly more challenging, and no less effective.
A routing winding its way through mature woodland & a place that you could get lost in is what you will find here. You reach the edge of a hole or a corner of the property and are either met with another hole or just nature: Views out over more forest, or healthland, or wetland. This lends a spaciousness to the course and ensures Eindhoven is a quieter place to be than a roomful of strangers upon hearing one of my Dad Jokes.
It’s also a good test. With sufficient length, tree lines occasionally distracting you, and (we had) pins tucked away near run offs making you think twice. Middle of the green is often the right idea (and in other news, the earth is not flat). The sandy property doesn’t have significant elevation changes, but is rumpled & far from being flat. This raises the challenge from uneven lies, as well as shooting uphill or downhill to targets. And conditions are firm so you will also need to take into account that where your ball lays it’s head might not be where it calls home.
There is plenty of hole variety at Eindhoven - especially amongst the Par 4’s. Shorts ones, long ones, lefties, righties, and straighties. The second hole stands out as a very good par 3.5. Long hitters can go for the green and risk punishment if they miss. Laying up still provides 2-3 length & line options for placement, as there’s a bit of a split fairway. Is great to stand on a tee box and have to think twice before having a stab at the ball. Following a semi-sensible decision here, I still tugged it left, causing me to wince like it was actually a hamstring I’d pulled. Finding fairway yet blocked out by a lone tree. Instant Bogey. Is there anything more magical in golf than taking the sensible option but failing to execute & still finding trouble? The 5th was another good short 2 Par 4, with a few bunkers to make you think twice, with a treacherous raised green falling away sharply on all sides (if I’m mentioning think twice more times than Celine Dion, it’s because this course made me do so and not because I’m a fan of the music).
The par 3’s were mostly good, and I particularly like the 11th. It has one bunker well short of the green to add some disguise, and the putting surface is tilted severely from right to left. 16 is another attractive one shotter, with the clubhouse across the lake behind the green framing the hole. The par 4 18th is beauty with a cross bunker and some discerning humps welcoming you back to the clubhouse.
A couple of holes fell short of the general high quality for me - the driving line at the 12th didn’t feel right (hole looks better from the yellow tee) and the short par 3 8th felt like green was angled all wrong (hole is better from the back or even ladies tees though). Aligning all tees could solve this though. Perhaps there’s also a case for more variety in green sites - especially on the inward 9 - as 2 or 3 felt familiar.
A quick digression to mention the facilities. The clubhouse is lovely - an old thatched roofed building renovated inside to create a settled marriage of the old & new. The style is nothing unfamiliar if you’ve played at Hilversum or Kennemer, but what is perhaps unique here are the modern practice facilities: an impressive and extensive area tucked out of the way with all mod cons you could wish for working on your game, both indoors & out. You’ll rarely see this at any courses, let alone older clubs with limited space.
What you get at Eindhoven is maybe a little more science than art - mathematical puzzles to solve and less of Jackson Pollock splashing golf holes everywhere. In truth the differences are more nuanced than this, because there’s fun to be had here. With regards to woodland courses in The Netherlands, I would put this at #2 amongst my hall of famevourites, just ahead of Rosendaelsche & then Hilversum. It is a lovely course and hard to find many faults. Although Top100 already has it at #4 in NL (& #23 in Europe), it feels like it flies under the radar.
Comparing with the country’s pre-eminent inland track, De Pan, some might even make a case for Eindhoven being better. Ultimately it may come down to what you look for in a golf course - the thrilling artistry of a Dennis Bergkamp or the brilliant efficiency of a Ruud Van Nistelrooy? Both hit the target, just in different ways. You must play them both and decide for yourself. Eindhoven is a treat of a course where you don’t have to think twice - for once - to go play it
Date: July 30, 2020