The golf complex at The National Golf Brussels lies less than a 30-minute drive from Brussels city centre, just a few kilometres to the north of Tervuren, where the Royal Golf Club de Belgique, commonly known as Ravenstein, is situated. The clubhouse and some of the holes at The National sit within what was formerly the largest horse racing circuit in the country, the Sterrebeek Hippodrome.
As horse racing steadily declined during the 1990s, a decision was made to find an alternative sporting use for the property, which led businessman Frank Monstrey and his wife Petra Noë to commission Bruno Steensels to fashion a modern golf facility, extending to a championship-standard 18-hole course, a 6-hole Compact course, along with a two-level driving range, chipping area and practice green.
The local landscape’s pretty flat so several small lakes were created to add visual interest, with spoil from the construction of these water hazards used for creative contouring in other parts of the layout. Around half a dozen holes are routed around these aquatic features, most notably on the par three 2nd and the par five 18th.
The par three 5th is the pick of the short holes, played across water to a green fronted by a large “beach bunker,” with a line of trees to the right of the fairway separating the golf course from the old racing track. Another remnant of the site’s past is found next to the 7th tee, where a tunnel that was once used by trainers to walk their horses to the track is now maintained as a bat cave.
Another modern Bruno Steensels design, The International in Amsterdam, is hosting the KLM Open in 2019 and it might only be a matter of time before its Low Countries cousin in Brussels gains a similar slot on the European Tour circuit.