Apart from giving the golfing world Augusta (which is a different story) ... there is plenty of golf in Belgium in general and in the northern part, or Flanders, in particular.
I bet you didn't know that the 2nd oldest golf club in Continental Europe is situated in Antwerp with the Royal Antwerp Golf Club founded in 1888. But apart from that and around Antwerp, which is one of Europe's most characterful cities, there are several golf clubs all within half an hour of the city centre. So hunker down in Antwerp where there is plenty of nightlife and go play Cleydael Golf Club and its 14th-century moated castle or venture to Rinkven and its 36 hole complex. There is golf on the other side of the river as well and in the new port with Beveren, a 9-hole links style golf course. One of the coolest hotels to stay in is the Martin's Patershof in Mechelen, the converted Franciscan church is within walking distance of the bars and restaurants along the river in Mechelen but there are also plenty of hotels in Antwerp to choose from. While you're there, get a tee time on Royal Antwerp and step back in time. Restored to its original features, the Royal Antwerp Golf Club is one of Belgium's top golf courses.
Head West towards Ghent, Lonely Planet's favourite and coolest Belgian city where the Marriott Ghent Hotel has been erected inside three historic Guild Houses along the river Leie where once the majority of the world's grain trade was conducted. Walk outside and history sweeps you off your feet with 12th century houses, church towers, a Belfry and medieval squares. Within less than an hour's drive, there are several golf courses to be enjoyed. Damme Golf nearer the coast is a 27 hole parkland course which is easy to walk. Oudenaarde Golf, with 36 holes again designed around a historic manor house / clubhouse and Royal Latem Golf, one of Belgium's historic golf courses are within 30 minutes of the city centre.
On the Eastern side of the region and around Belgium's oldest university town (1245) and the capital of Stella, Leuven, there is also plenty of golf. Head to Spiegelven, the pinetree-lined Ron Kirby design or take in Royal Limburg, the heather filled golf layout. There's Millennium Golf where Thomas Pieters practices and plays which is a modern lay out with plenty of bunkers and water hazards. It's in a mixed recreation area so you will see cyclists, walkers, sailors and paddle boarders mixing with golfers. Nearer to Leuven, the undulating golf course at Winge Golf is technical and requires all your shot making skills.
Fly into Brussels Airport and pick up your rental car, you are maximum 1 hour away from all these iconic and historic cities. If you never thought of Belgium to go golfing, think again. With great food and the best beers in the world, this is not only a super destination for a lads trip but bring the misses. Shopping is out of this world in Ghent, Antwerp, Knokke and Leuven.
The Martin's Hotel Group have hotels in virtually every city in Flanders but they are not just' hotels. They have converted old buildings and have given them a new lease of life. In Mechelen, the Franciscan church is now Martin's Patershof and in Leuven, the old nunnery and hospital is now the Martin's Klooster. All of them with full bar and restaurant facilities. Before flying out, the Martin's EU in the shadow of the fabulous building housing the EU parliament is conveniently located near the airport. In Ghent, the Marriott brand has converted three of the old 'guild' houses into a modern hotel and with the resident 'Midtown Grill' but also within walking distance of all the hot bars and restaurants, a hotel to be reckoned with.
If you've never been, these itineraries are all worthwhile. The golf is honest, it provides value for money but the 'apres golf' activities are second to none. All cities have a vibrant bar and restaurant scene and are all steeped in history. Hence the old buildings, all carefully restored to provide you with that medieval feel.
On the website GolfinFlanders.com, you can find all the information you need about the golf clubs and special packages available.
Written by Jo Maes, President of the EGTMA, Europe's largest media association.