Why golf in the Netherlands?
While the quaint windmills and gentle rolling countryside might strike the average American as more mini-golf than 18-hole, full-scale golf is actually the third biggest sport in all of the Netherlands! And since we all know that football is number one in pretty much every European country, that’s saying something!
There are over 200 golf courses in the Netherlands, played by nearly 400,000 registered golfers.
And these aren’t your average golf courses, either. According to Golf World’s recent survey of Europe’s best courses, Holland is home to the highest number of Top 100 courses per capita in Europe.
For a country that’s just around twice the size of New Jersey, that’s a lot of golf per square kilometer.
It’s everything you love about golf at home. The landscapes are perfectly maintained, and the weather is more stable than many parts of America. That makes for more stable conditions, and a reliably solid game.
Plus, the Dutch countryside is already perfectly suited to golf. So, when we’re all getting out our excavators to shape a good course back in the States, the Dutch just have to mow a lawn, and they’re good to go!
Everything’s close to the course. The Netherlands are a pretty small country, even in European terms. For Americans, it’s easiest to visualize as just over 2 New Jersey’s. That means your golfing adventure can easily tie in with a cultural attraction, or a visit to a historic site.
It’s also much easier for American businesspeople working abroad to plan in a trip. Just think about how much effort it would take, and how much time off you’d have to request, to play at half a dozen premiere courses. Most of us are lucky to find time and money for one or two! But in the Netherlands, they’re much easier to access, and much easier to afford, since you don’t have to pay for accommodations.
You can expect a higher standard of play and conduct. While many courses are open to the public, and it’s fairly straightforward to become a member of an exclusive course, even the most open course requires players to present a Golf Card. These are pretty nifty for keeping courses clear of troublemakers and novices, since they require players to have a basic level of skill, and to be knowledgeable of rules and regulations.
While Scotland has undisputedly held the title of golf’s birthplace for over a century, the Netherlands is the home to an ancestor of golf which you probably haven’t heard about. Scots won’t like this one bit, but it’s impossible to deny that this early forerunner is a very, very close cousin of golf.
The sport of “colf” (see? so close.) sprung up as early as the 1200s, and was basically a simplified version of golf. While the equipment and rules were slightly different, you’re definitely going to see the similarities.
“Colf” was a game in which two players had heavy clubs, like a croquet mallet or a heavier hockey stick. They’d also get a big wooden ball, like a “boule” ball from France. They’d pick a target, and set up a starting point. The goal was to get the ball to the target in as few strokes as possible (sound familiar?). However, the authorities eventually cracked down on the sport, since players would take it up inside narrow streets, putting out windows and putting passersby at serious risks. That’s why they moved it out into the countryside, where they started the first version of the golf course.
Now, while this is obviously a big point of pride for the Dutch, it’s important to recognize that the Scots made some pretty important changes to the format, They shrunk the ball down, and made groomed greens commonplace. So, while we have the Dutch to thank for the basic idea of golf, we have the Scots to thank for making it a real sport that we can all enjoy!
Top Three Courses to Visit:
Koninklijke Haagsche Golf & Country Club (open since 1893!)
This is one of the oldest golf courses in the world, and it’s the oldest in all of the Netherlands. It’s very easy to get to, as well, and is just a hop skip and a jump from the Hague. It’s great for getting a sense of Dutch golf history as you play.
In our humble opinion, Kennemer is the ultimate destination for getting the full Netherlands experience. It’s a challenging golf course in its own right, and it’s also one of the best-integrated with the landscape. So, while it fits all our American standards for excellence in design and playability, it also just feels unmistakably Dutch.
3. Utrecht de Pan
This one’s a must-play for the most experienced, skilled golfers. While it doesn’t have huge historical significance, it’s been used for all sorts of tournaments and opens, including multiple Dutch Opens. It gives the pros a run for their money, so we think you’ll be more than challenged by it.
Find more courses at http://golfinholland.org/top-10-courses/
Don’t forget to pack!
-Sunscreen (deceptive cloud cover in Europe can mean lots of burns if you’re not careful!)
-Golf membership passes from home (these will help you get into Dutch courses, and show you’re actually a well-regarded player)
-A rangefinder (these are musts for any new course. Since you’ll be trying lots of places in the Netherlands for the first time, make sure you’re equipped to scope them out. If you don’t have one already, learn more about them and find some good buys at bestgolfrangefinder.reviews).
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