Royal Ostend could more accurately be called Royal Odds & Ends. It’s a fragmented series of holes patched together to create an 18 hole layout. A routing that crosses more roads than a failed 1980’s British sitcom. Golf might be a good walk spoiled, but here the routing is good golf spoiled. Did I mention about the routing?
Hole #1 is a nice introduction - a short dogleg left on undulating ground next to the clubhouse. Hole 2-4 are a drop in standard, and it’s not until you make your first road crossing that things pick up again. The class of the course then follows from 5-10, with #6 & #10 being my pick of these. Many will surely also be impressed with the drop shot Par 3 #8. At this point I felt the course to be a Doppelgänger of the 9 holer just across the Westerschelde at Domburg.
Holes 11-14 follow after another road crossing, and these are okay. I liked the Par 4 #12, although noted at this point that, despite the necessary spaghetti routing, a few drives still hit back over prior greens, which risks lives (thanks to that assistant pro at Eaton Golf Club). The inevitable happened at #15 as one of our group hooked the ball onto a road and we saw it bounce several times as high as the street lighting. Funnily enough this had also happened at Domburg (hitting a car on that occasion). A final crossing sees you hit holes 15-18 and at this point the landforms alter to resemble a poor relation of Royal Zoute. The final shot into the well-bunkered #18 is, however, a fitting finish.
In the links-poor lowlands, Royal Ostend stands out, and is easily paired with a day at Royal Zoute when based in Brilliant Bruges. During our visit The Proclaimers were giving a concert in one of the many quaint squares. Despite this Scottish link, if comparing Royal Ostend to its tartan cousins, you might be disappointed. As mentioned above, I found it to be more like an 18 hole version of the solitary Dutch Links at Domburg. But routing aside, it’s still solid links and, although I wouldn’t walk 500 miles to play it (let alone 500 more), if in the area again I would look forward to another go
Date: February 26, 2020