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Top 100 Golf Courses revises its Benelux rankings

24 January, 2014
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Top 100 Golf Courses revises its 2014 Benelux rankings

Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are the latest European countries to receive a Top 100 ranking review

24 January 2014

Top 100 Golf Courses has been ranking courses in the union of the three Benelux states of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands since 2008. The Benelux region may well be small in size but in golfing terms the area supports around 300 golf courses and certainly punches well above its weight.

Netherlands
During the last couple years there has been considerable movement in The Netherlands in terms of new courses being built. This is rather exciting as it’s adding to the depth of the offering at the upper end of the two hundred or so golf courses that exist in this small country. Consequently for 2014, we’ve been able to extend our golf course coverage and now showcase a Top 20 for The Netherlands.

In the last eighteen months we have luckily added two very interesting sand based courses: Stippelberg, from Michiel van der Vaart and Philip Spogárd – which has already won several awards including course of the year – and Swinkelsche, from Frank Pont, which has received strong praise from golf course architecture enthusiasts among others. The other fairly new course that has broken into our rankings for the first time is The International from Bruno Steensels and Ian Woosnan. This course is ideally located under the skirt of Amsterdam in between the city centre and the airport and it’s a modern clockwise/counter clockwise routing that’s championship ready and can stretch to some 6,600+ metres. Logistically it’s perfectly set up to host major events and has already successfully hosted the Deloitte Ladies Open in 2013.

At the top there is always a tight and highly debated struggle for the best course in NL. This year the Noordwijkse Golf Club has again edged out Royal Hague for that top spot. It should be noted that Royal Hague is making excellent progress following the renovations a few years ago and, together with some excellent maintenance, has really shaped up the course, which played the best this year that I’ve ever seen it playing before. The Noordwijkse is also busy with renovations and the complicated process of trying to attain the permits for these. The coming years will see a lot of enhancements that will strengthen its routing as well.

Kennemer and Utrechtse De Pan round out the Top 4, which in fact stand above all other golf courses in The Netherlands. I believe the clubs also appreciate this and are working hard to improve the already fantastic layouts they maintain.

Belgium
Belgium has been less active than the Netherlands in terms of new courses being built over the last few years. Even so, there are a number of very enjoyable forest and parkland courses, ably supported by a handful of heathland tracks. We’ve therefore extended our Belgian golf course coverage from a Top 10 in 2012 to a Top 15 for 2014. In total there are 89 courses to choose from and 56,600 golfers make up the Royal Belgian Golf Federation.

The average level of Belgian courses is actually rather good compared to the average in The Netherlands. This is mainly due to the fact that Belgium benefits from a far more dynamic landscape. Over the border there are many Dutch Polder (reclaimed land) courses, whereas in Belgium most of the courses are in hilly areas with plenty of trees. Belgium also has different rules in terms of the pesticides they are allowed to use in general maintenance. Consequently Belgian greens on average are usually in good shape. However, outside of a few classic designs, Belgian golf course architecture is comparatively average with numerous courses overrun by trees. These courses would really benefit from some tree clearance and renovation work in order to bring back the original lustre of these layouts.

Three designers are responsible for nine of our Top 10 Belgian golf courses. Harry Colt's Royal Zoute once again holds the top spot, followed by courses from Tom Simpson and Hawtree Ltd. These big architectural names ensure that visitors to Belgium can enjoy some solid classical courses.

Luxembourg
Landlocked and diminutive Luxembourg cannot compete with its neighbours on the golfing stage as it’s one of the smallest countries in Europe and the entire nation extends to less than 1,000 square miles. However, there are half a dozen golf courses in the country and a couple are above average.

In 1991, Japanese architect Iwao Uematsu (who we confess to knowing little about) designed the Kikuoka golf course within the 250-acre Scheierhaff Estate for the Kikuoka family, who own numerous courses in their native Japan. Kikuoka has headed our Luxembourg table since we started ranking European golf courses. Interestingly, in 2008, the club added a six-hole short course, which is routed through a former orchard and uniquely features fully synthetic sand filled greens and tees.

Golf in Luxembourg started at Golf Club Grand Ducal de Luxembourg in 1935 and we felt it was high time to add this venerable classic to our listings. Laid out by a Major J. C. Symonds, it’s said that the architect received inspiration from Tom Simpson, who was working on a number of projects in the Benelux countries at that time.

Top 100 Golf Courses has never claimed to present “definitive” golf course rankings. Instead, we think we produce the “most informed” listings, taking into account data and opinion from as wide a range of sources as possible. If you think we’ve missed a Benelux Gem then do let us know. And please send us a course review should you have been lucky enough to play any of our featured Benelux courses.

David Davis
Benelux Correspondent
www.top100golfcourses.com

2014 Netherlands Move
1 Noordwijkse No change
2 Koninklijke Haagsche No change
3 Kennemer (Colt & Van Hengel) No change
4 Utrecht de Pan No change
5 Eindhoven No change
6 Hilversumsche Up 2
7 Rosendealsche No change
8 The Dutch Down 2
9 Lage Vuursche Up 1
10 Noord-Brabantsche - Toxandria Down 1
11 Stippelberg (Championship) NEW
12 International Amsterdam NEW
13 Hoge Kleij Down 2
14 Swinkelsche NEW
15 Wouwse Plantage NEW
16 Broekpolder Down 3
17 Goyer (North) Down 5
18 Houtrak NEW
19 Herkenbosch Down 5
20 Geijsteren NEW

Click the link to see our latest Netherlands Top 20 in detail.

2014 Belgium Move
1 Royal Zoute No change
2 Royal Belgium (Old) Up 1
3 Limburg Up 2
4 Royal Waterloo (La Marache) Up 2
5 Royal Antwerp (Main) Down 1
6 Royal Fagnes Down 4
7 Royal Ostend Up 2
8 Royal Sart-Tilman No change
9 Royal Hainaut (Bruyere & Quesnoy) down 2
10 Millennium Championship) NEW
11 Hulencourt (Le Vallon) NEW
12 Royal Latem Down 2
13 Bercuit NEW
14 Rinkven (Championship) NEW
15 Château Royal d’Ardenne NEW

Click the link to see our latest Belgian Top 15 in detail.

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