Golf Course Profiles

Knokke-Heist, Belgium

"Probably the first golf played in Belgium was played at the now well-known and popular watering-place Knocke, which at that time, however, was nothing more than a tiny fishing village, lost among the bleak windswept dunes of the Belgian coast. In the year 1899 a few English people residing at Bruges began to come to Knocke to practise golf among the sandhills; their course was primitive in the extreme: the holes consisting of “jam jars” sunk in the ground with the aid of the trowel, and a local peasant with a large pair of scissors being employed to cut the longer grasses within a foot or so of the hole, the clearing thus made doing duty as a green.

In 1901 a club was formed, a mowing-machine purchased and a few years later C. Warren was engaged as professional. From this point onwards clubs began to spring up all over Belgium.

In 1909 forced by the increasing number of visitors to Knocke and the need for building land the original links was moved to a more sheltered site farther inland. This soon became very popular and visitors flocked from all parts of England and Belgium to enjoy some of the best golf to be had on the Continent.

What was once a tiny fishing village had become one of the most flourishing watering-places on the Belgian coast with over one hundred hotels and boarding-houses built in one winter only to be filled with visitors the following summer.

By 1910 the course had become so overcrowded that the committee decided to make a second course and carry out radical improvements to the existing one. Harry S. Colt came across from England and laid out two 18-hole courses resulting in a links which was regarding as being second to none on the Continent.

The coast of Belgium, consisting as it does of sandhills, with intervals of short springy turf between them, is particularly well suited to the game of golf,” As yet there are comparatively few courses on the Belgian littoral: but given money and sufficient enterprise, there are golden opportunities and unbounded possibilities for the laying out of several more first-rated golf-links on what is at present the waste land of the district."

Extracts from Notes from Some Essays on Golf-Course Architecture by H.S.Colt and C.H. Alison

Golf in Belgium…by Lieut.-Colonel F.T. Bacon, Secretary of the Knocke-Sur-Mer Golf Club

PROJECT - 3 x 9 hole course

The second course for Knokke, Belgium for Steve Marnoch and Dimitri van Hauwaert

Following years of discussions the Knokke-Heist City Council have been studying the possibilities of the long awaited second golf course for the town and now plans are submitted for a massive new development on this famous piece of Belgian coastline.

After a presentation to the City Council, the Mayor of Knokke-Heist, Count Leopold Lippens personally selected Scottish golf Architect Steve Marnoch, Director of golfmarnoch Ltd working with local Belgian Architect Dimitri van Hauwaert of Diamond Golf Architects from the many other world class golf architects available to design the new golf facilities for Knokke-Heist.

Knokke-Heist, Belgium

As part of a major recreational development for Knokke-Heist the twenty-seven hole course is included within the overall improvements to the area which are substantial.

The master plan for the golf course complex and the improvements for Knokke-Heist are now being shown as part of a public exhibition in Knokke and featured in the book entitled Horizon 8300.

Second Golf Infrastructure Complex

The development of a second golf complex in Knokke-Heist is part of, and considered a top priority for, the further development of the tourist/recreational infrastructure.

As far as the municipal authority is concerned the implementation of the 3 x 9 hole course is vital. Golf is one of the fastest growing and most frequently played sports in the world and appeals to all ages. This rapid advance (which involves children as young as 5 and people at the age of 70 learning to play) means that there are an increasing number of players without the necessary experience and expertise to complete a difficult course successfully. Hence the proposal put forward by Steve Marnoch and Dimitri Van Hauwaert for a 3 x 9 hole course because it can facilitate many combinations depending upon the player’s experience. In this way the municipal authority of Knokke-Heist aims to continue the democratisation of golf in Flanders.

In order to sustain the development of its future reputation and status Knokke-Heist requires extra golf capacity for various reasons. The provision of a second golf complex supports hotel and congress activity in Knokke-Heist and acts as a spearhead for the further expansion of the tourist/recreational infrastructure of this famous seaside resort.

Following the Flemish government's approval of the second golf infrastructure complex, the Scottish golf architect Steve Marnoch and Dimitri van Hauwaert developed a master plan that would accommodate international tournaments as well as providing a variety of golfing experiences within the three x 9 hole loops with six tees per hole. Each course has been given an individual character with the eastern course focusing on the theme of water and will link with the existing 'Putten van Dujardin'. The central course is designed as an open, windswept links and the westerly course will be partly integrated into the proposed 35 ha public woodland on the outskirts of the city. The complex will also include practice area, driving range and new clubhouse and parking. A new congress hotel will be developed along Natienlaan to create a direct link to the new golf course.

The company Leisure Property Invest nv in cooperation with the community of Knokke-Heist will realise the project. The concept for the golf course presented to Count Lippens was wholeheartedly accepted and approved who wants a splendid golf course and has therefore appointed Steve Marnoch and Dimitri van Hauwaert to produce the designs. The over-riding character for the new complex will be in a natural rolling links style not so dissimilar to the current course at Royal Zoute but introducing new wetland and woodland features and incorporating existing ones. This mixture of pools and wetland dunes within a traditional links landscape is very characteristic of this area of coastal Belgium. As part of the overall Knokke-Heist improvements the Zeno Project in the Zwin Dunes and Polders will aim to protect endangered species and biotypes whilst the new golf project can create areas within the golf course for new habitat creation within former farmland.

Detailed designs shall commence during 2010 through to summer 2011 and construction work is due to commence on site in 2012.



Click on a publication below to read the article in full

Golf Course Architecture Golf Course Architecture, January 2010
Play Golf Play Golf, June 2010

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