Play or Pass - Episode 3 - Belgium

For Episode 3, we're heading to Belgium ...

Would you Play or Pass the following courses and alternatives ?

Royal Antwerp GC - Tom Simpson Course - GF €85 Week, €95 W'End

The RAGC, founded in 1888 and the 2nd oldest golf club on the continent, moved to its present environment in 1912 when Tom Simpson laid out the 18 hole course. Some recent redevelopment has brought the quality of the course up to withstand modern day play while restoring some of the features of the time when the original courses was designed. This is golf history and built on heathland turf, the course remains playable even during the most adverse of weather. Dogleg holes require position rather than power of the tee and with greens featuring optical illusions on your approach, a tricky lay out altogether. The atmosphere is old school which you either loath or love but this is a 'tick the box' experience. 

Would you Play or Pass ?

Alternative Next Door: Rinkven G&CC, €65 - €85

Rinkven was founded in the 60's and initially offered 27 holes designed by Belgian architect Paul Rolin (assoinfluenced by RTJ). More recently, the course has received an extensive upgrading and rerouting which brought it up to 36 holes and the building of a new clubhouse. Again, laid out on sandy soil, the courses are always in good condition. This courses is an oasis carved out from the pine forests North of Antwerp.

Royal Route Golf Club @  €110

Knokke started as a links course in 1899 and an offshoot of the Bruges Golf & Sport Club. The area and course suffered during the wars and after WWII Lt Col Allen drew up lans for two links courses, the current championship and executive course. The final designs were done by Harry Colt. Knokke has always been a high end club and hosted several Belgian Opens, the last one back in 2000 and won by Lee Westwood. Knokke has also produced its fair share of Belgian amateur and professional golfers. Although it started out as a links course and the course still has features that remind one of that, the current layouts are surrounded by houses and now play like a heathland course. Knokke always prides itself on the the conditioning although that can be hit and miss depending of the time of year. They always had the fastest greens in Belgium. It's definitely a course to play when you're in Belgium and the seaside resort of Knokke isn't too shabby neither. There is accommodation in the club house as well.

Alternative nearby: Damme G&CC @ €80

As golf grew in the 80's, people started building golf courses as there wasn't any room in the traditional clubs. Damme is a bit inland from Knokke and the historic town, a defence during the heydays of Bruges in the middle ages, is home to several excellent restaurants. The golf club designed by Paul Rolin is laid out on what was formerly agricultural land within the flat Flemish 'polders'. With a fair bit of water in play, this is not a push over course and combing Damme and Knokke makes for a great weekend away.

Which ones would you PLAY or PASS ? 

 

Play or Pass - Episode 2 - Portugal

For Episode 2, we're heading to the Algarve in Portugal ...

Would you Play or Pass the following courses and alternatives ?

Algarve - Monte Rei G&CC - €190 buggy included.

This Jack Nicklaus Signature Design meanders its way through the hills close to the Spanish border in the East of the Algarve. This is a US Styled Country Club with service to match. Valet parking, personal attendance, fully equipped grass driving range with proper golf balls and targets. Greens 10+ on the stimp and 15 min. tee times. This is an experience and a day out. Don't rush round Monte Rei ... that's not what it's there for ! Enjoy the round, play at a good pace without rushing ! Play or Pass ?

Alternative Next Door: Quinta De Cima, between €66 and €97

This Rocky Roquemore design is the bigger brother of the more scenic Ria course with full length holes, a challenging layout without the views.

Oceanico Victoria @  €140, buggy extra @ €40

Arnold Palmer opened the Victoria course back in 2004 and it has hosted several Portugal Masters. A modern design with plenty of water surrounded by flat marshland near Vilamoura. It's a big course for amateurs and has a Tivoli hotel on site.

Alternative nearby: San Lorenzo Golf Club @ €135 without buggy

One of the clubs in the Quinta Do Lago area between Vilamoura and Faro Airport. One of the more challenging courses in the Algarve with holes 5, 6 and 7 amongst the most scenic in Portugal. There have been issues with maintenance at times which is mostly 'around the edges' but with the playing areas in good shape, there aren't many better courses to play in the Algarve.

Which ones would you PLAY or PASS ? 

Play or Pass - Episode 1 - N. Ireland

A discussion about which courses, in a certain price bracket, to play or which courses to pass and not bother ! We work per country and each time, compare two courses and invite comments as to why you would play it or pass it. You can decide to play both or pass both, there are no rules.

Episode 1 - Northern Ireland

Royal County Down @ £185 to £200

The famous links which sits under the sweeping mountains of Mourne and which has hosted several championships is on any visiting golfer's must play list. It's a tough traditional links where the rough is penal and the bunkers are real hazards. It's a challenge to get on and a challenge to play and with a minimum price tag of £185 (€215) per round plus extra's, it doesn't come cheap. Would you play it or pass it ?

Alternative next door: Ardglass GC @ £60 to £85

Lovely cliff top course, redefined by Ulster-man David Jones, and as scenic as it gets with the bonus it has the oldest club house in the world !!! 

Royal Portrush GC @ £180

The only venue to have hosted a British Open and which will host the 2019 Open Championship, the revamped Dunluce Links is a quality golf course. On the North & West Coast links rota, it offers unrivalled views of the Atlantic Ocean, Dunluce Castle and not far from the Giants Causeway. Comparable to RCD price wise and with equal history and pedigree. Play it or Pass it.

Alternative next door: Portstewart GC @ £130

Next year's Irish Open venue with probably the most scenic opening hole in the whole of Ireland. From a high tee in front of the clubhouse to a meandering fairway below with the Atlantic Ocean and the beach dominating the right hand view. 

Let me know ... which ones would you play or pass and why ?