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Heelsum (Airborne & Sandr)

Heelsum (Airborne & Sandr)

Heelsum, Gelderland
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Heelsum, Gelderland
  • AddressGinkelseweg 14, 6866 DZ Heelsum, Netherlands

The 27-hole golf complex at Golfclub Heelsum is a new millennium design by Hans Hertzberger which lies to the north of the Nederrijn River, close to the city of Arnhem. Occupying a very interesting geological site of around 175 acres, the course is divided into three 9-hole loops, named Airborne, Sandr and Helsum.

Much of the landscape in this part of the country is metres deep in sand, formed during the last Ice Age, but it’s covered in a relatively thin layer of topsoil that has supported agricultural land use for many years. In an ongoing renovation scheme, removing and/or reshaping this earth to expose tracts of sand is having a profound impact.

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The project has two main objectives – to improve the golfing interest and playing strategy of the original layout and restore the degenerated heathland habitat, with the inspiration for the work coming primarily from the ‘dry dales’ glacial melt water channels that now act as key strategic features on a number of the holes.

Architect Steve Marnoch, who is carrying out the upgrade, kindly supplied us with this exclusive quote:

What a success story this has been! From the initial reconstruction of all three nines on a really low budget, the club has now retained me until 2025 as the guardian of the vision for the course redevelopment into a heathland classic.

I’ve worked on all the three nines from the outset, starting the much-emulated ragged bunker trend in The Netherlands. We’re currently re-bunkering on the Helsum nine with other works planned to bring that arguably weaker loop up the standard of the Championship course.

At the moment, the bunker sand is being changed and we’re re-edging the bunkers. Large amounts of heather are brought in annually as well as propagating our own stock. There are also plans to upgrade the original tees.

It’s been quite an amazing project as we’ve re-bunkered and brought in heathland species to change the character of the course and add strategy. None of the greens have been altered from the original course and only a few tees have been added.

It just shows what you can achieve on a large site with a limited budget without making huge and expensive alterations to the actual playing infrastructure.


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