Within the next few years, however, it is possible that golf will overtake all of these as the thing for which the Netherlands is most famous.
The country has a rich golfing heritage, with an early version of the sport called ‘Kolf’ reckoned to have been there since the 13th century. Today, the Netherlands is home to over 230 courses – within a two-and-a-half hour drive of one another – with over 350,000 registered golf club members.
Great Dutch courses roll off the tongue and many of them are to found on the North Sea coast. The pick of the bunch is perhaps Noordwijkse, a stunning Frank Pennink-designed links layout which has hosted the Dutch Open on no fewer than nine occasions. Playing it, you will feel as though you are back in Scotland – that’s how good a links it is. Its near-neighbours Kennemer and Haagsche are also firmly in the ‘not-to-be-missed’ category.
There are plenty more treats to be unwrapped further inland. Eindhovensche Golf Club has a course that meanders through a dense forest which is located just to the south of Eindhoven, the world’s ‘Most Intelligent Community’ according to a 2011 report. The Dutch, meanwhile, was designed by Colin Montgomerie with a view to hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup, the Netherlands’ bid to stage only the second edition of the match played on Continental Europe coming up just short. This invigorating inland links opened for play in 2011 and is a solid test of golf.
Today, the Netherlands is home to over 230 courses, with over 350,000 registered golf club members.
Then, of course, there is Hilversumsche. Located in the north of the country, it is one of the most exclusive clubs in the Netherlands. However, some tee times are available and, if you can get on the course, we strongly recommend you do. It’s a great challenge for all players.
The quality of the courses is only part of the Netherlands’ appeal. Indeed, it is not for nothing than over 12 million tourists visit the country every year.
It is easily accessible with four major international airports, whilst there is something to suit every budget in terms of accommodation. The country also has a temperate sea climate, with little rain and warmer temperatures than most of the UK and Scandinavia making golf a year-round sport. It is also very good value for money.
Off the course, the Dutch culture is famous the whole world over, with some special events scheduled for 2013. Indeed, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, established in the wake of Napoleon’s defeat in the Battle of Leipzig, which saw the country regain its freedom. The famous canal ring in Amsterdam, meanwhile, will celebrate 400 years in 2013, with the 125th anniversary of the city’s Royal Concert Building and 175th anniversary of the famous Artis Zoo also due to be marked before the year is out.
The internationall-acclaimed Riksmuseum, also in Amsterdam, re-opened in April of this year, too, and is well worth a visit.
Both on the course and off it, the Netherlands quite clearly has much to offer. Isn’t it about time you paid it a visit?
• FOR MORE INFORMATION
To find out more about golf in Holland, or to check great packages in major tourism hubs such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Maastricht or Eindhoven, log-on www.golfinholland.org or email [email protected]