Swinkelsche is a very nice addition to the top end of Dutch golf. The course is very enjoyable from begin to end, with a few stand-out holes of staggering design quality which will only become better with time. The lay-out is indeed a potpourri of design ideas and focuses primarily on providing many strategic options off the tee and playability for every level of golfer. Not every hole succeeds at that approach however, for which the level of maintenance can also be blamed – the course needs to have the greens softened and rolling at stimp 8, as intended by the architect. Otherwise they do not hold, and become unplayable for most players.
My favourite holes included the par 5 2nd, using the natural features on the edge of the course effectively; the heavily bunkered, but somehow driveable par 4 3rd, the minimalistic par 5 14th, thanks to its wonderful approach shot with the bunkers providing wild visuals and a great green complex, and lastly the beautifully heathered par 3 17th.
The rest is equally interesting, for example the par 4 8th which gives the option to hit a heroic shot over the lake by tempting the player with an extended peninsula to land the drive on, leaving a pitch shot instead of a long iron into the green if executed well. The par 4 11th is a controversial hole. It’s almost as wide as it is long and the idea is that it provides 4 different routes to the hole. The more favorable route depends on the pin position, however the right side of the green is the easiest to hit. It was a bit of a shame that the wasteland in the middle of the hole was not penal at all, so I took the dumb approach, went for it and just hit a bad drive straight into the wasteland and my short pitch shot onto the green with relative ease. I imagine that’s not how the hole is intended to be played.
It’s impressive what has been achieved by Pont’s team for - allegedly - a low budget. It would have been nice if the minimalistic approach had been extrapolated a little more instead of creating over the top drama here and there, which feels a little artificial. The par 4 13th comes to mind with its crazy tabletop green, as does the par 5 18th which criss crosses through the wetlands.
These critical notes do not take away from the overall experience though. This course resides in my Dutch top 15 and has the potential to improve over time. The design is refreshing, strategic and fun. I hope this will be recognised by the average Dutch golf-Joe (probably called Jan), and whets the appetite for more quality strategic designs and renovations of existing sub-par courses built around 30 years ago. Looking forward to return!
Date: May 30, 2021