Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Golf in Belgium

Golf, Belgium - two concepts that may not have occurred to you as obvious partners, but after spotting some lovely photos in the Golf Breaks brochure, I decided to give it a try and dragged the rest of the party with me. It has to be said that, despite some dodgy weather, on purely golfing terms it was pretty good.
We were booked in at the Chateau du Lac in Genval, and after many dusty hours on the motorway it was a great relief to arrive at such a gorgeous place. The rooms were lovely and the hotel staff very helpful. They had booked us four rounds on local courses (Golf Pass Brabant Wallon) and issued us with detailed fact sheets for each course including directions from the hotel. Needless to say we still got lost a couple of times, but that added to the fun (well, in retrospect, anyway!)
I could easily write a whole Belgium golf blog, but will confine myself for now to a brief report for each course. By the way we did have two non-golfing days and managed a trip to Bruges and spent the last day, when the sun miraculously returned, lounging on the hotel roof garden and treating ourselves to a gourmet meal in the restaurant – nothing like a good finish!

Day 1: Golf Club D’Hulencourt
Lovely open course, maintained by a small army of green keepers. Downpour on last few holes compensated by great hospitality from the club’s (Welsh) Hon Sec who treats us all to shots of the local Genfer – vive la Rhondda!

Day 2: L’Empereur
Not only is this called 'the golf course at the end of the world', but the entrance road is closed for tree felling! We get completely lost and return to hotel who issue new directions. Tee off 3 hours late but bolstered by a substantial lunch. Good weather, steep terrain – buggies definitely a good idea.

Day 4: Chateau de la Tournette
Rain and more rain. We eventually tee off at mid-day and give up after 9 holes. What a shame, it looks a lovely course and my partner plays a blinder even in the downpour. Probably the most luxurious facilities here and the weather again allows us to sample the club’s great hospitality – possibly the best moules in the world?

Day 5: Sept Fontaines
We arrive in a gloomy atmosphere to play the appropriately named Foret course which is short but very challenging with narrow fairways and many hazards. A pity that the greens have just been hollow tined and treated with a strange white mousse. On the low-lying holes I fear my golf is being affected by chemical inhalation (or that could just be an excuse). Pity we didn’t have time to try the main Chateau course.

The acid test. Would we go back? Well, despite the charms of Bruges and Ghent, I still wouldn’t rate Belgium as a tourist destination, but Chateau du Lac is gorgeous and there are several fine courses near by. For a golf break with easy access from the channel tunnel and courses much quieter than in the Calais area, I’d say give it a go.

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