Royal Zoute (Championship) - Belgium

Royal Zoute Golf Club,
Caddiespad 14,
B-8300 Knokke-Heist,
Belgium


  • +32 (0) 50 60 12 27

  • Jos Vankriekelsvenne

  • Harry Colt

  • François Gabias


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Royal Zoute

Belgium's Royal Zoute Golf Club is situated on the North Sea coast close to the Dutch border. It lies at the heart of an upmarket seaside resort called Knokke le Zoute (in French) or Knokke-Heist (in Dutch). Golf was first played here in 1899 as an offshoot of the Bruges Golf and Sports Club. Harry Colt redesigned the course in 1907 and the club then became known as the Knokke Golf Club in 1909. Royal title was granted in 1925 and, in the process, the club became known simply as Royal Zoute.

After the ravage of World War II, an Englishman – Lieutenant Colonel Allen – reinstated the Championship course and added a second layout now known as the Executive course. The Lippens family were the driving force behind the development of the club and Royal Zoute matured into one of the best links courses on the continent of Europe before it became a parkland/links hybrid due to the planting and subsequent encroachment of trees.

This now famous Championship course is still ostensibly a Harry Colt design with a traditionally British feel. Appearances can be deceptive at Royal Zoute. The greens are subtle and cleverly protected, and while the fairways look inviting and easy to hit, there are hummocks and contours that can, as on many seaside courses, take your ball to the places you least expect.

Nick Faldo described Royal Zoute as a "hidden gem" and many other distinguished players have played the layout, including Henry Cotton and Arnold Palmer. A number of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes have been successful at Royal Zoute, as it has played host to the Belgian Open on many occasions. Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Lee Westwood have all emerged as winners.

With two loops of nine holes, Royal Zoute breaks from the traditional out-and-back layout seen at many courses from this era. With no weak holes and a strong stretch from the 5th to the 16th, this natural course will please not only the links lover but also those who prefer the softer aspect of trees (planted after WW2) which flank a number of fairways. The natural aspects of the course are its primary defences and the rough can be punishing. When the wind blows, you will need a wide range of shots and tactics to score well.

No trip to Belgium would be complete without playing one of the country's premier golf courses. Fortunately, visitors are warmly welcomed and the Club President, also the mayor of the town, is renowned for his cordiality. In addition to the main Championship course, there is also an 18-hole par 64 called the Executive course with small and tricky greens which simply adds to the enjoyment of Royal Zoute.

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Reviews for Royal Zoute (Championship)

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Description: Belgium's Royal Zoute Golf Club is situated near Knocke sur Mer on the North Sea coast and has been described by Nick Faldo as a "hidden gem". Rating: 3.9 out of 6 Reviews: 15

I played Royal Zoute last week and I have to say that we were very disappointed by the condition of the course. It was not well maintained and the greens were terrible. Slow and bumpy and not good at all. Not a tidy maintenance golf course and really not numner 1!!!!

2 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
November 06, 2018


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29 people found this review helpful
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I left Royal Zoute disappointed for a variety of reasons. The golf course is just not well maintained and the greens were the worst I’ve seen in 25+ years. I played it in the first week of May and the amount of damage on the greens was shocking. I believe there are restrictions in Europe for applying certain chemicals on golf courses, and if this is the case at Royal Zoute, then they are doomed.

The front nine is flat and offers little in the way of inspiration. The opening 5 holes felt shaggy, unkempt and were not appealing. The bunkers looked exhausted and added nothing to the holes. I did not get the feeling that I was on a classic Harry Colt course as hardly anything resembled his work.

I understand that there were challenges routing the course, and dealing with certain ridges – but thankfully the land begins to move once you reach the back nine and the green-sites are significantly more interesting, but the quality fades away once you reach the end. The last hole is bland and simply a way back to the house.

The terrible maintenance on the fairways, the atrocious putting greens plus the scruffy visuals quickly made me conclude that this massively overrated course is badly in need of significant investment. It’s an embarrassment and a major error to have this rated #1 in Belgium.

2 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
May 29, 2018


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11 people found this review helpful
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Oh dear, what a disappointment. This should be a wonderful course but it is in appalling condition. The fairways have been totally lost. The tees and greens are poor. And, it is not cheap at 105 Euros. It is very sad to see, what is a great course, so neglected. Unforgiveable but it can be reclaimed and restored with some effort and TLC. Such a shame as there some wonderful holes here.

2 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
October 21, 2016


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14 people found this review helpful
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We were very disappointed when we visited on 15th Nov 2015. We could not have visited a t a worse time, the club house was closed so we were unable to get anything to eat or drink added to that the greens had recently been hollow tinnesd and parts of the course were subject to major ground works with heavy machinery scatterd on it. On top of that it was generally messy and untidy. We were very disappointed and all that for 105 euros so not cheap. We had even callled the club before we left the UK and nothing was mentioned.It was not what we had expected and will not return !!!
2 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
November 19, 2015


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11 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
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It's sad to hear that this course has gone downhill in such a way. When I played (admittedly a few years now) I thought they had some of best greens I'd ever putted on. And to think that in the 2009-2011 timeframe this course was close to being a World Top 100 course.One thing I liked was that the routing of the "l'Extérieur" course (Championship course) works around the outside of the land it meant that the holes exposed you to a different direction of the wind every few shots.
5 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
September 28, 2015


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6 people found this review helpful
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What a shame! This is a gem of a design over great golfing country but it is in terrible condition. The grass is patchy, the bunkers are decaying and poorly maintained.I could not recommend a visit, especially as the welcome to visitors is extremely unfriendly.
3 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
August 11, 2015


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10 people found this review helpful
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No doubt the Zoute championship course (but also the par 64 Executive course) is a hidden gem. But during this 2013 season, the maintenance wasn't really that great. Some greens were in a bad condition because of a disease. The green of hole 11 (par 3) was modified. A "winter" green had to be played in stead during the works. Weed invaded some tee grounds. That ruined a bit the idea of a perfect course especially when the green fee remained invariably high. Surely all efforts will be made to remediate these imperfections. The fact Sergio Garcia and Nicolas Coolsaert will be playing there end of September probably will stimulate the greenkeeper to recover the immaculate status of the course.
4 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
September 16, 2013


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3 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
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Played on a mild summer-afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience from begin to end. One needs to be sharp from the start to score well, as hole 1 is the second ongest par 4 on the course. I especially enjoyed the reachable par 5s which will host eagles as well as double bogeys. The fairways are pretty narrow and the semi-rough is thick but it's possible to catch a break. If you hit it even more wayward you definitely lost your ball. The greens were of incredible quality and pace, however a tad soft for the nature of the course. The fairways on the other hand were absolutely grilled and dried out, which was really charming and cool and gave some roll on your tee- shots. The best holes to my taste were the par 5 fifht and the stretch 13-16 is one of the best I've ever played. Hands down the best course in Belgium, although I love Limburg G&CC as well. As for the other northsea-courses I slightly prefer Koninklijke Haagsche and Kennemer, but I like quirky links courses. Zoute oozes quality and is a fantastic club. MO
5 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
August 14, 2013


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1 person found this review helpful and 3 did not
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I was really excited about playing Royal Zoute on a weekend to Bruges with my wife having played a few of the top 10 in europe I was keen to see how it compared . The real estate surronding the course and the setting is awesome and I think that can detract attention from what is in fact an average links course. we played it March I admit but I specifically asked the pro if they were on winter greens , he said no summer greens. he failed to inform us after taking 105 euros per green fee that 3 holes were virtually out of action for major renovation! He did try to sell me a dozen Srixon though . The clubhouse is sublime -the set up very like Sunningdale but I was very dissapointed with the layout- the quality of the holes - not one really dramatic hole and the bunkering was not memorable either . the highly ranked courses in Holland such as Haagsche and Utrecht are much more spectacular . Sorry Royal Zoute
3 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
March 09, 2013


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2 people found this review helpful and 1 did not
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Response
martin
March 10, 2013
March is not the best time of the year to play golf in the lowlands. Playing Le Zoute on a nice summer day when the course is in good shape will make a huge difference. What won't change though, is the unfriendly and impolite way guest players are treated at this club Not cricket, and certainly not golf!
Overroepen. Absoluut niet nr 1 waard.
3 / 6
Royal Zoute (Championship)
July 12, 2012


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2 people found this review helpful and 2 did not
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