Oudenaarde Golf & Country Club first opened for business in 1971 and within five years an 18-hole course was in play. By 1990, the golf facility had been expanded to a 27-hole layout then another nine holes were added in 2007, allowing the formation of the current Kasteel and Anker courses.
These two 18-hole layouts lie within the grounds of Petegem Castle – which now acts as a magnificent clubhouse for both courses – and local architect Dimitri van Hauwaert of Diamond Golf Architects, recently renovated the bunkers on all thirty-six holes on the property.
This tree-lined course plays to a par of 71 and it’s the shorter of the two Oudenaarde tracks, measuring a modest 5,889 metres from the back markers. The opening hole (“Captain’s Drive”) requires a testing tee shot across the castle’s lake and the closing hole (“Victory Lane”) plays back towards the imposing clubhouse and its inviting summer terrace.
In between these delightful starting and finishing holes, there’s a wide variety of golf to be played on the Kasteel, ranging from water protected par threes (at the 4th and 14th) to long, testing par fours (at the 398-meter 6th and 425-metre 17th). The longest and toughest of the par fives arrives at the 13th and it’s a demanding left doglegged hole, rated stroke index 6.
Pace of play is important here and a round on the Kasteel should take no more than 3 hours and 34 minutes according to the scorecard. And with the wonderfully melodic chimes from the castle’s bell tower ringing out regularly during play to keep you aware of the time, there’s really no excuse for not completing a game well within the 4-hour mark.
Played the Castle Course early May of 2018 and enjoyed it thoroughly. You could see the course came out of the winter and the green keepers were working hard to get the course to 'wake up' but it was already coming into its lush stage. The course is challenging enough of the tee if you're a longer hitter as these holes are not that wide and do have slight to severe doglegs. There is a bit of walking to be done but it's all on flat terrain on the edge of the river Schelde. The Castle is a glorious focal point and the food, as we discovered, was nothing short of excellent. Easily reachable from most major cities in Flanders and close to Ghent and Bruges, make sure to consider Oudenaarde and with a choice of 36 holes, you will always get playing.
What a lovely location for a golf course – or two courses, actually, as Oudenaarde boasts two 18-hole layouts, the Kasteel and the Anker. Situated in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes, half an hour’s drive from Ghent, the golf and country club estate is dominated by a magnificent clubhouse, the old Petegem Castle, which dates back to 1847.
It’s a grand building in which to relax after a game, either in the bar, the restaurant or out on the sunny terrace overlooking the 18th hole on the Kasteel layout. Both courses are laid out in serene parkland settings with holes only ever revealed upon arrival at the tee, which offers a lovely sense of seclusion from the outside world.
The Kasteel is a very user-friendly track, measuring just under 5,900 metres, which will not overly tax the 1,300 members currently attached to the club. There’s an early whimsical element to proceedings with the green to the par three 2nd obscured by a couple of mounds in the style of the “Brigitte Bardot” hole at Royal Marrakesh and the par three 4th is protected to the front left of the putting surface by a beach bunker that sits above a pond by the side of the green.
I’m sure the hole sequence has been changed over the years as the present 9th plays away from the clubhouse with a starters hut located next to the teeing ground (surely it used to be the 10th?) and there’s quite a walk to and from the loop of holes that now plays as the 13th to the 17th. The short par four 12th is a terrific hole on the back nine but the best is kept until last at the par five 18th when golfers catch the first real glimpse of the castle as the hole bends gently right to the home green under the clubhouse terrace.