Royal LimburgHouthalen-Helchteren, Vlaams Gewest
- AddressGolfstraat 1, 3530 Houthalen-Helchteren, Belgium
Not unlike a British heathland course, the layout at Royal Limburg Golf Club twists and turns through beautiful woodland. It is located in the huge Campine nature reserve to the east of Antwerp, on free-draining ground that is rarely ever waterlogged, even in the worst of rainy seasons.
F. W. Hawtree designed the course in 1966, and it’s a timeless classic, routed in two loops of nine which each return to the clubhouse via open heathland. Most fairways are bounded by pine and birch trees with massive clusters of heather around the property to add great beauty when in bloom.
The routing of the course at Limburg is such that half the holes are doglegged, and these ensure the thinking golfer will prosper as he or she plots their way around the course. A fine old-fashioned design feature – the short par four hole – also adds interest around the turn at both the 8th and 10th holes.
Martin Hawtree made a few alterations to his father's original design in 2010 and Bruno Steensels completed a bunker renovation project in 2018.
Tom Doak made a point of playing Royal Limburg in 2017 and awarded the course a rating of six out of ten. He commented as follows in his Christmas 2017 Confidential Guide update:
“One of Masa’s favorite courses on the Continent, Limburg is a lovely quiet setting at the edge of a forest, with each nine finishing out on open heathland. The large, deep greens are typical of its vintage, but there are a couple of smaller ones in the mix, and there are some interesting hole locations for important days; at 6900 yards it’s also got a bit more length than its older neighbors. There are good holes of all lengths here: the par-5 5th and 13th are both standouts, as are the par3 6th with its high tee, the excellent short par-4 8th, the long two-shot 9th with its contoured approach, and the strong par-4 12th over some low dunes contours.”
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Fred W. Hawtree was a founder member and later President of the British Association of Golf Course Architects, which was the first attempt in the UK to form a golf course architecture profession.