Every UK-based golf tour operator I tried returned with the same message: no dates or packages available. I found this strange. How can a country that boasts several of Europe’s top golf clubs have no tours/holidays ready to go with a few clicks of a mouse? Portugal and Spain have been an absolute breeze in the past, and I wrongly assumed the same would be the case for The Netherlands. Traditional routes were drawing a blank; I would have to do this myself.
Getting in and around The Netherlands is a piece of cake. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is a well-designed monster of an airport with links to the entire globe; catching a flight from a regional airport (in my case Bristol) was easy with multiple airlines linking them. The Netherlands have an excellent transportation network, but a rental car was a must due to golf equipment. The country’s size played in our favour as well, we could base ourselves in any major city, and no journey should take longer than 2/3 hours. We chose an apartment in Rotterdam due to its proximity to and the reason for our trip, The Dutch. The Netherlands has a similar climate to the southern part of the UK, with mild winters and warm summers, so we chose the end of the high golfing season, September.
With accommodation, flights and a rental car all booked up, the tricky part came with choosing the courses. UK-based review sites tended to point to the same courses but didn’t explain why, so I reached out to a few contacts on Instagram of all places and started asking questions. This is where my connection with Leading Courses began, and I have to thank Leading Courses' Leonard, who was instrumental in some of the course choices I made when organising this trip.
I love Links and Heathland Golf, so I settled on two links courses, Koninklijke Haagsche (Royal Hague) and Noordwijkse, and two heathland courses, Hilversumsche and Rosendaelsche. Coupled with the Dutch, we had a stellar week of golf on paper.
For those of you used to booking online via a golf club’s webpage or 3rd party provider, this is where the experience becomes very different. Not one of the courses we chose is available to book online, only via email/telephone. So I fired off my requests and waited. Within the hour, three of the courses responded, and we had tee times secured, with payment due on arrival. The last one “took a bit longer”, and we really had to play around with when we could book; Royal Hague only allowed visitors on a Monday. It’s also worth noting that quite a few Dutch courses only allowed visitors in 3-balls. For context, we booked in March for our September trip.
I learned later that the Rosendaelsche actually is bookable on Leading Courses. That's great and it would have saved me some time and money if I would've known back then.
The courses blew us away; the quality was superb. Rosendaelsche and Hilversumsche would have happily sat next door to Sunningdale, Swinley Forest, and The Berkshire and not felt intimated.
The greens were electric, and the fairways felt like carpet. If your ball did venture off into the trees, you could find it easily as with only large logs and pine needles to worry about; your ball was easy to find. Your next shot isn’t going to be easy, but you won’t lose a ball. Another great aspect we loved was the feeling of being the only golfers on the course during the week, which added to the premium feel.
The Links courses were also breathtakingly good, no two holes were the same at Royal Hague, and I will always remember its finishing par five 18th leading you back to its impressive clubhouse. Expensive but worth it. Noordwijkse was a links golfers dream, with some of the friendliest members I have ever met and continue to speak to today. These courses would easily break into the UK’s top 100.
The Dutch are fantastic hosts. Every golf club we visited greeted us by name and seemed genuinely delighted that we had made an effort to visit. We either received a branded sleeve of balls, marker or pitch repairer at each club. I can not put into words how special this makes the round feel. At 3 of the courses, the head pro came and found us in the bar to enquire how our round went. A great touch and again makes the round feel special.
Facilities at the courses were also fantastic; all had good quaility driving ranges and separate chipping/putting greens which helped us warm up properly.
Driving around Rotterdam and the motorways to the courses was easy. If you are familiar with the twisting rough motorways of the UK, you will love how direct and fast you will get to your destinations in the Netherlands.
There is only one thing I can fault about golfing in the Netherlands, green fees. Visitors, especially overseas visitors, really have to pay a premium to play here. One club charged €50 for a member’s guest, €150 for a visiting dutch golfer and €190 for Overseas golfers. Such an overcharge can be hard to swallow, and indeed most of the staff looked uncomfortable when asking for the green fee.
Very simply, yes! Due to limitations on group sizes and cost, this wouldn’t suit your average lads abroad golf trip. If you love your golf, hospitality and something a little bit different, then I can not more highly recommend the Netherlands for a golf trip. With such amazing courses left to play, such as Kennemer, De Pan, Bernardus, plus many more, a return visit is definitely on the cards.
Below are links to all my reviews of the courses I played in The Netherlands. If you want to know more about my trip, add me as a buddy via my profile page.
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