While at the PGA Show a few years ago I had the pleasure of spending some time talking to Larry Lambrecht the renowned golf photographer about his work shooting stunning golf landscapes all over the world. I asked him what is the next must visit golf destination that no one currently talks about. Without hesitation he replied “The links courses of the Netherlands”.
Have to admit I was astounded by that answer since I had never heard mention of any golf courses in the Netherlands. It is three years later and I finally stumbled on something to back up Larry’s assertion, a couple of pieces on the Golf Club Atlas website about Kennemer Golf and Country Club, site of this year’s KLM Open, and Royal Hague a three-shot par five from Amsterdam. I have to say it makes me feel like wooden shoes with Soft Spikes are in my future.
The Netherlands sits due east of Britain, just across the North Sea. Despite the fact that 20% of the country is below sea level, the Netherlands has an abundance of dunes land stretching the length of it’s western shoreline. In many areas the dune band is as much as 3 to 5 kilometers wide, far wider than the dune bands of eastern Scotland, and they are replete with the full variety of characteristics-big dunes, sandy soil, seaside flora and the like-needed for fine links golf courses.
Back in the Golden Age of Course Architecture Harry Colt, one of the prominent British architects of the time, ventured across the sea to build the first links course in the Netherlands at Kennemer in the mid 1920’s. He built the bulk of his unique courses in the Netherlands by the end of the decade. But his firm, Colt, Alison, and Morrison, was contracted in 1937 by Daniel Wolf a wealthy businessman to build an eighteen hole course on the other side of the ridge from Wolf’s estate about 25 kilometers from Amsterdam.
Since Colt was getting too old to travel by this time his associates Hugh Alison and John Morrison set off to meet with Wolf to survey the property. What they found when they got there was an incredible piece of seaside ground with dunes “large enough to create an heroic setting without being too big to hinder good golf, the dunes were perfect terrain, literally every architect’s dream.”
Having worked with closely with Colt over the years they followed his script of clever strategic routing and minimalist designer intrusion. There are only 18 bunkers on the entire course and a set of ingeneous green complexes many of which have crowned greens that will only honor the purest struck approach shot. They let the lands speak for itself and the result was a links course with grand vistas and strategic shot lines that require full concentration.
As you look at the vivid images in the attached Golf Club Atlas article you cannot help but be struck by the similarity of this look to what we see at Bandon Trails in Oregon. Given Crenshaw’s extensive study of the great designers I cannot believe he did not have The Hague in mind as they conjured their creation of Bandon Trails for Mike Keiser.
The course has recently undergone a significant restoration under the able hands of Frank Pont a local architect who used original architectural documentation and photographs to bring the Alison and Morrison feature back into a course that had been victim of many renovation design compromises over the last 70 years. There is an extensive interview with Pont within this article if you want the nitty gritty on the latest work.
Enjoy the attached article about The Hague. I think you will agree that your next trip to Amsterdam should include a diversion to take in one of the great links courses of Europe at Royal Hague.
Golf Club Atlas