Royal Ostend Golf Club was formed back in 1903 when Seymour Dunn – a relation of the famous Dunn golfing family in Musselburgh – laid out an 18-hole course on a narrow strip of dune land beside the North Sea, near De Haan.
The Ostend course and clubhouse were destroyed during hostilities in World War I and World War II but, on each occasion, the club rose like a phoenix from the ashes to ensure that links golf would continue despite all that conspired to prevent it along this stretch of coast.
Martin Hawtree renovated the layout in 1990 to meet the challenges of modern golf, at the same time respecting the original design, and his minimalist approach ensured this fine old links is as good to play today as it was over a hundred years ago. Further upgrading work was carried out in 2006 when five greens (at holes 7, 8, 10, 16 and 17) were replaced as part of a renovation plan that continues into the new millennium.
There are six par three holes on the course and many consider the 145-yard 8th to be the best of them. It is played from an elevated tee in the sand hills to a punchbowl green that slopes from back to front, with three protective bunkers to catch anything short. The stroke index may indicate it is one of the easiest holes on the card, but when the wind blows – as it often does here – a three on the card will be a very welcome score.
First time playing here and all I have to say that this is a must for any golfer. Only links course in Belgium. The whole maintenance is in outstanding condition with really fast, smooth greens. Tee boxes and fairways are fantastic to play off. Holes 5-10 are beautiful with hole 8 a par 3 at the highest point on the course looking over the sea. All in all this course is one of the best maintained I have ever played and will be back as soon as possible.