Belgium is a country renowned for its delicious rich hand made chocolates, unique beer, medieval towns, magnificent architecture, and not least that its Capital, Brussels is home to the EU headquarters and Nato. More recently it has become a popular golf destination for golfers from other European countries and further afield.
Our golf journey was to Dutch – speaking Flanders in the northwest part of the country.
“Golf In Flanders” a new initiative that was developed between The Flemish Golf Federation and the Flemish Tourist Board to promote the region as one of Europe’s top golfing destinations.
There are over 50 magnificent golf courses in the region all with in easy reach of each other and the many wonderful visitor attractions including the historic memorials of The Great War.
The first stop on our tour was the Martin’s Brussels EU hotel. This trendy up market hotel is just a few minutes walk to the EU building, its location is ideal for exploring the city. Rooms are modern with wifi and luxuriously comfortable, as is the cosy bar and restaurant. Martin’s Brussels EU hotel is ideal for a weekend break or business meetings.
Belgium’s newest golf course, The National is a short drive from the city. Unfortunately we did not have time to play the course but by all accounts it is already ranked as being up there with some of Belgium’s top Championship courses.
The magnificent clubhouse terrace overlooks a lake, and part of the course. After a short walk on the course we enjoyed some great local dishes in the club’s Brasserie restaurant and of course no meal in Belgium is complete with out sampling some of Belgium’s famous beer.
The first of Flanders courses on the programme was Damme G&C.C. an hour and half drive from Brussels and a short distance from Bruges. Damme has an 18 hole Championship course, as well as “The President’s Nine” and a short nine hole course which is superb for beginners and great for practicing the short game.
There are many natural obstacles through out the course, from water hazards to blind doglegs. The first hole is a par 4 and is somewhat daunting as the tee box is right in-front of quite a large pond, the ladies tee is a little different as the tee box is a bit further on and cuts off some of the length of the hazard.
The club is owned by two Flemish families, they bought the club in 1994 and have brought it to the high standard it is today. The clubhouse, including bar and restaurant is housed in the Stockman’s Farm.
From The Brussels EU Hotel to the four – star Marriott, Ghent. The Marriott is situated in the heart of the city over looking the river and within walking distance of shops, restaurants and museums. This 18th century building has every modern amenity, wf-fi, meeting rooms and excellent restaurant. I would thoroughly recommend a night or two here whether it be business or pleasure or both.
A most enjoyable and fun way of seeing the city is by riverboat, you can even have a beer or a glass or two of prosecco.
I was so impressed by the amazing early Flemish architecture and Gothic sites. I would really love to go back and just spend more time exploring these beautiful cities.
After a wonderful meal and good nights rest at the fabulous Marriott we were off early the next morning to Cleydael Golf & Country Club. Cleydael is located in a wooded area around the magnificent medieval Cleydael Castle in the south of Antwerp. The unique parkland course was designed by Paul Rolin in the early eighties.
One of the most spectacular holes in golf has to be the 18th at Cleydael the castle majestically stands overlooking the green, one could be forgiven for thinking you were in Disney World. Rolin created a course in a magical setting that is both challenging and exciting for golfers of all abilities. What ever your handicap
I guarantee that you will have a truly wonderful golf experience.
On the road again and to Mechelen, a small historic Flemish city located between the seaport of Antwerp and the Capital, Brussels. The city is a centre famous for its art, architecture and love of beer. Mechelen made a name for itself with the elite back in the 16th century. Charles the V was said to enjoy a tipple of the golden liquid. In his own words was to have said “The daughter of the grain is superior to the blood of the grape”. I am sure one could have a great debate over the grape and the grain. There are plenty of fabulous restaurants and bars in the famous town square “The Grote Markt”, serving seasonal Flemish specialities.
I have stayed in many amazing hotels but the Martin’s Patershof, Mechelen has to be the most unique and quirkiest of all.
Once a Friar Minor Church that dates back to the 1200s is now an amazing four- star boutique hotel.This unique building which is situated in the centre of the city has to be seen to be believed.
The high arched ceilings, imposing pillars and beautiful stained – glass windows, many with religious detail. The rooms are beautifully furnished with big comfy beds, wi-fi, and fluffy robes.
If you want luxury, combined with charm and uniqueness then Martin’s Patershof has all of that.
The Millennium Golf Club, as the name suggests opened in 2000, and was built in the late nineties situated around the beautiful lake Paalse Plas near Paal, just an hours drive from Brussels and Antwerp. As well as the 18 hole Championship Course there is a nine hole and a small children’s course called the Bambini course. The small course has artificial grass fairways. There is a great family – friendly atmosphere around the whole complex.
The landscape is flat so no need for buggy, a walk in the park. There are some beautiful oak, beech and rhododendron trees through out the course, and as you would expect with a large lake there are a lot of water hazards. At times when the breeze is blowing you do need to take into account that this wind turns the course into a real ‘inland links’ bringing with it the same challenges.
Spiegelven Golf Club, Genk. An 18 holes hole Championship course with an additional nine hole course.
The heath landscape is very picturesque, the fairways are laid out on rolling terrain with lots of trees and plenty of water hazards. The course is a interesting challenge for any golfer
but the lower handicapper can take risks with big bold drives and cutting corners.
After 18 holes walking this beautiful Flemish golf course you can be sure you will just want to sit back with a Belgian beer or two.
Winge Golf & Country Club which is located in the heart of Hageland. The golf and Country Club is set in beautiful undulating landscape in the charming village of Sint-Joris-Winge, near Leuven.
This region is not only known for its delicious white beer but also for producing wine, quite unique in Flanders.
Winge golf course is a typical parkland course designed by British golfer Pete Townsend in 1888.
Townsend made excellent use of all the beautiful and natural obstacles in the landscape such as the winding brook and hilly terrain. Also with the many mature trees and shrubs that come into play throughout the course make an extremely challenging and enjoyable round of golf.
The new Clubhouse at Winge is superb, there is a great restaurant and bar and pro shop including practice facilities that are state of the art.
Martin’s Klooster Hotel in the university city of Leuven was our next stop. The hotel is idyllically situated at the end of a an ancient cobbled street in the middle of Leuven’s historical centre. A two-minute walk from the hotel takes you right to the ‘Oude Markt’or the botanical garden.
Martin’s Klooster was originally build in 1531 to accommodate Charles V’s secretary, then it became an Augustinian monastery and later was converted in to this unique hotel.
The rooms are elegant, cosy and modern yet they maintain all the character of the original building. The Monastery bar and orangery are elegantly designed in keeping with character of the unique building.
The outdoor cafés and beautifully laid-out gardens are fabulous for chilling and soaking up the relaxed atmosphere of surroundings. The hotel ideal location to explore the city and the historical sites and culture. if your are thinking of somewhere for a conference, business meeting, seeing the sites or simply a few days away from it all, then this hotel ticks all the boxes.
For information on Flanders golf courses and unique hotels visit: golfinflanders.com
The “Martin’s Golf Pass” offers a golfer an excellent all-inclusive package for info. visit: www.martinsgolfpass.com
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