Top 100 Golf Courses revises its Benelux rankings 2020

31 January 2020 Respond to this article

Top 100 Golf Courses revises its Benelux rankings 2020

We’ve been ranking courses in the three Benelux countries of Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands since 2008 so this is the 6th biennial revision of those listings. Of course, golf has been played in these countries for many years, indeed, some argue it was the Dutch who invented the game when kolf was played in the country during the 13th century, though the first organised golf club in the region didn’t happen until the formation of Royal Antwerp in 1888.

It didn’t take the Dutch long to catch up. Koninklijke Haagsche was established just five years later in 1893. Since then, more than 250 courses have opened across The Netherlands, which is more than three times the number now operating in neighbouring Belgium. Also, better late than never, little Luxembourg brought its first course into play in 1935 and the 18-hole Grand Ducal de Luxembourg remains one of only a handful of layouts currently in use within the country.


Belgium

Belgian golf was positively enhanced in the early 1900s when King Leopold II made the astute move to bestow royal patronage on clubs in an effort to bolster their prestige and hopefully boost the economy. Such support from the monarchy still exists today, but some might reasonably think the “Royal” prefix is employed a little too freely in the modern era as clubs automatically gain this title when they’ve been operating for fifty years.

With all this regal embellishment, it should be no shock whatsoever to learn that the leading eight courses in our newly extended Top 25 for Belgium are all now of the Royal variety, headed by the Championship course at Royal Zoute, which is still the national No. 1. The layout was redesigned by Harry Colt back in 1907 and, although it was reworked after both World Wars, the course in play today is ostensibly the one envisioned over a hundred years ago. Eight editions of the Belgian Open have been held here, with the last event won by Lee Westwood in 2000.

Royal Zoute Golf Club

Royal Zoute

Two courses make significant upward moves near the top of the new standings. The first of these is the 18-hole layout comprising the Tom Simpson course at Royal Antwerp (up six to #2), where a sympathetic renovation from local architect Dimitri Van Hauwaert is reinvigorating the architectural intent of Tom Simpson’s 1930 redesign. Our well-travelled International Correspondent David Davies thinks it’s “the single best renovation and turnaround I’ve ever seen in Europe.”

Royal Antwerp Golf Club

Royal Antwerp

The second layout to come charging up the new Belgian table is the Langeleede course at Koksijde Golf ter Hille (up seven to #10), which French-based architect Jeremy Pern designed with the stated aim of offering players a golf experience similar to that found on an inland links layout. With sandy-soiled fairways laid out less than 2.5 kilometres from the coast, this is exactly what’s been created in the polder stretching out between Nieuwpoort and De Panne.

Koksijde Golf ter Hille

Koksijde Golf ter Hille

The highest of the five new entries is the 18-hole championship-standard course at Naxhelet and this new course is part of a 30-hole golf complex designed by Martin Hawtree on the heights of Huy, overlooking the Meuse and Mehaigne valleys. There’s also a comfortable 28-room hotel on site, tastefully finished with local materials such as Hainaut marble and Ardennes oak, to make stay and play an enticing option when visiting that part of the country.

Naxhelet Golf

Naxhelet


Rank/ Course Move
1 Royal Zoute (Championship) No change
2 Royal Antwerp (Tom Simpson) Up 6
3 Royal Belgium (Old) No change
4 Royal Sart-Tilman Up 1
5 Royal Ostend Up 2
6 Royal Waterloo (La Marache) No change
7 Royal Limburg Down 5
8 Royal Fagnes Down 4
9 The National Golf Brussels (Championship) Up 1
10 Koksijde Golf ter Hille (Langeleede) Up 7
11 Hulencourt (Le Vallon) Down 2
12 Royal Hainaut (Bruyere & Quesnoy) Down 1
13 Rinkven (South) Up 2
14 Royal Latem No change
15 Millennium (Championship) Down 3
16 Château Royal d’Ardenne Up 3
17 Royal Bercuit Down 4
18 Damme (Championship) No change
19 Chateau de la Tournette (American) Down 3
20 Naxhelet New entry
21 Cleydael Down 1
22 Royal Waterloo (Le Lion) New entry
23 Ternesse (A & B) New entry
24 Oudenaarde (Kasteel) New entry
25 L'Empereur New entry


To view the complete detailed list of the Top 25 Golf Courses of Belgium click the link.


Luxembourg

The course at Golf de Luxembourg in the Domaine de Belenhaff retains its #1 status in Luxembourg. Located close to the capital, within a 400-acre estate in the hilly, forested Grevenmachar district, the club opened for business in the mid-1990s, with holes routed around the beautiful 18th-century Belenhaff chateau. The last review for the course sums things up rather well: “everything about the course and the club makes it a pleasant experience – sort of like Luxembourg as a whole really.”

Golf de Luxembourg

Golf de Luxembourg


Rank/ Course Move
1 Luxembourg No change
2 Grand Ducal de Luxembourg Up 1
3 Kikuoka Down 1


To view the complete detailed list of the Top 3 Golf Courses of Luxembourg click the link.


The Netherlands

In our revised and extended listings for the Netherlands, 6 courses remain in the same place, 4 courses move up and 5 enter for the first time. One of the half dozen non-movers is our national No. 1, Koninklijke Haagsche Golf & Country Club, which is one of several old Dutch masters that were rebuilt, upgraded or extended during the 1920s and ‘30s by the design firm of Colt Alison and Morrison Ltd.

Koninklijke Haagsche Golf & Country Club

Koninklijke Haagsche Golf & Country Club

The course also occupies positions in both our Continental Europe Top 100 (at #2) and World Top 100 (at #80) and its appearance in these elite charts is fully justified if recent review comments are anything to go by: ”I am a big fan of Harry Colt influenced courses in The Netherlands and Royal Hague is one of the best… I have been lucky to play Shinnecock and I am not afraid to say this one has a very similar feeling in many of the golf holes.”

Rising one place to No. 4, the course at Eindhovensche Golf is another Harry Colt masterpiece that winds its way through a dense woodland estate to the south of the city. Our International Correspondent David Davis returned here to see how the club’s maintenance strategy plan was progressing and his verdict was: “the club has been really busy removing many trees to reclaim lost width, open up vistas and improve turf and greens. They have also changed watering procedures to improve the turf and firm everything up... Great work by all involved so far.”

Eindhovensche Golf

Eindhovensche Golf

Further down the rankings, another three courses make small gains on the rest of the pack: the Championship course at Golfbaan Stippelberg near Eindhoven is a Michiel van der Vaart and Philip Spogárd co-design, built in association with local architect Gerard Jol (up two to #10); the Bruno Steensels-designed North course at Goyer Golf & Country Club near Hilversum (up 1 to #14); and the Airborne & Sandr nines at Golfclub Hellsum in Arnhem (up 1 to #16), where Steve Marnock has spent the best part of a decade promoting the heathland characteristics of the site.

Stippelberg

Stippelberg

Bernardus is the first of five new entries in this chart revision, hurtling into the reckoning at No.5. We’ve kept a close eye on this exciting new development since first visiting during construction in the summer of 2017 then returning the following year to see the finished product. It’s of absolutely no surprise to us to learn that it’s now scheduled to host the next three editions of the KLM Open as this is one of the best new golf facilities to open anywhere in Europe since the start of the new millennium.

Bernardus Golf

Bernardus


Rank/ Course Move
1 Koninklijke Haagsche No change
2 Utrecht de Pan No change
3 Kennemer (Colt & Van Hengel) No change
4 Eindhoven Up 1
5 Bernardus New entry
6 Noordwijkse Down 2
7 Hilversumsche Down 1
8 Rosendaelsche Down 1
9 Lage Vuursche Down 1
10 Stippelberg (Championship) Up 2
11 Hoge Kleij No change
12 The Dutch Down 3
13 Noord-Brabantsche - Toxandria No change
14 Goyer (North) Up 1
15 International Amsterdam Down 5
16 Heelsumse (Airborne & Sandr) Up 1
17 Swinkelsche (Championship) Down 3
18 Wouwse Plantage Down 2
19 Het Rijk Nunspeet (North & East) No change
20 De Texelse New entry
21 Houtrak Down 3
22 Geijsteren Down 1
23 Gelpenberg New entry
24 Herkenbosch Down 1
25 Lochemse Down 1
26 Links Valley New entry
27 Lauswolt Down 2
28 Broekpolder Down 8
29 Domburgsche Down 7
30 Anderstein (B & C) New entry


To view the complete detailed list of the Top 30 Golf Courses of The Netherlands click the link.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses