Koksijde Golf ter Hille is situated in the polder that lies between Nieuwpoort and De Panne, less than three kilometres from “Hoge Blekker,” the highest coastal dune on this coastline. The club operates a 27-hole golf facility, featuring the 18-hole Langeleede layout and the 9-hole Hazebeek course.
The stated aim of French-based architect Jeremy Pern was to create a golf experience similar to that found on an inland links layout. Thanks to the sandy soil he had on a property located less than two and a half kilometres from the glorious strand that runs along the nearby seaside resort of Oostduinkerke, that's exactly what he created.
The Langeleede course occupies a rolling landscape where dunes proliferate and fescue grasses thrive in a lean, dry soil. High rough and deep bunkers are obstacles that must be overcome during the round and, due to the course’s coastal location, the ever-present wind is another important factor when playing here.
Jeremy Pern sent us this exclusive quote:
Koksijde is reputed to be the second richest resort on the Belgian coast. The town mayor (who was first elected in the late 90s and is still Mayor today) has been extremely active in investing in tourism, leisure projects and events in order to boost the reputation (and economy) of his town which has a summer population about ten times that of the winter residents. It’s a premier retirement and weekend destination with a very high proportion of upmarket apartments owned by high-income Belgians.
After winning a design competition in 1999 I was appointed as golf course architect on the project. The brief was to create a very high quality public golf course with a strong ecological component. The 90-hectare site was a very flat arable farm about 1.5kms from the sea, a silty soil polder which I reshaped into a links landscape. The project consists of an 18-hole course capable of hosting international events, plus a 30-bay covered driving range and 9-hole shorter course.
The Langleede course is unashamedly designed as a links course – virtually treeless and undulating, with large rolling greens, numerous hidden pot bunkers, wide fairways and huge tees. Unlike many nearby courses it is also playable twelve months of the year thanks to a highly functional surface water management and drainage system. Its links character is unusual in Belgium, where the vast majority of courses are more parkland in style, and so local visitors are likely to find the course rather more challenging than they are used to. I believe that course is highly regarded by the more experienced and proficient golfers.
Due to the wetland planting and about eight hectares of open water, the biodiversity of the site is quite remarkable, with several pairs of wild swans nesting every year, plus a host of other water fowl species now resident. Last year in the space of about two hours walking around the course I counted over thirty-five species of birds!
The local authority decided over twenty years ago that Koksijde needed a very high quality golf course project to enhance the services available to the local residents, visitors and tourists. The aforementioned mayor is a very astute manager with a clear vision, who put in place a team of very competent people with sufficient funds and let them get on with the job with the minimum of interference. It worked.
The project has proved to be a great success with over fourteen hundred members today; a delightful clubhouse and restaurant; along with probably the most sophisticated maintenance and equipment setup in the whole of Belgium. It has met all the financial targets and is economically very successful and sustainable. Long may it remain so.