Easily accessible via Eurostar, the Belgium capital is one of Europe’s favourite city destinations.
And with a wide selection of fine golf clubs within striking distance, it’s a great place to stay and play
Brussels is quickly becoming a trendy spot for golf
weekends and holidays, and it’s easy to see why. The
Belgium capital is, of course, famous for its chocolates
and beers, 90 or so museums, beautiful parks and chic
restaurants and bars. Less well known is the fact that
within easy access of the city centre are several mighty
fine golf clubs – most notably around the Brabant
Wallonia region to the south. The prospect of a long
weekend suddenly takes on a new dimension.
Close to the battlefield of Waterloo are several outstanding
courses in the rolling Wallonia countryside. Golf
De Pierpont, along with Golf Club d’Hulencourt and Golf
de l’Empereur, being among the very best.
Pierpont's openness gives it the feel of a seaside links,
complete with fast-running fairways and excellent greens.
The strategic bunkering means you’ll be tested throughout
your round, while a stimulating mix of short holes
such as the challenging 9th, played downhill to a waterguarded
green, are liable to blot your card at any time.
Hulencourt, meanwhile, is to be discovered in a hilly
area surrounding an historic estate. The excellent layout
offers 18 strong golf holes, several featuring water, and
lots of bunkers. Several holes skirt a system of small
lakes – and they’re put to good use, especially in defending
the par-threes. If the wind blows, this is one of
Belgium’s toughest tests of golf. And the same could be
said of Golf de l’Empereur, a scenic but challenging course
stretching to around 7,400 yards from the back tees. That
the layout here demands long and accurate drives hardly
needs to be said, while the large and undulating greens
require that a power game is backed up with touch and
feel with the short stick if you’re to notch up a
Located close to these three gems is Golf La Bruyere,
laid out around the Chateau de la Ferme de la Bruyère.
The Chateau is now home to the clubhouse and provides
a stylish watering hole after a round. The course features
lightly bunkered fairways leading to tricky, subtly sloping
greens. Literally, just up the road from La Bruyere, is Golf
De Rigenee, a well-designed, open and undulating golf
course that again enjoys its run through some attractive
countryside. The water comes dangerously into play at
two of the four excellent par threes – most uncomfortably
at the 18th, played directly in front of the clubhouse terrace,
providing a final test of your nerve!
Move a little closer to Brussels and you come to Royal
Waterloo, the wonderful Sept Fontaines and, a little to the
east, Golf du Chateau de la Bawette. Royal Waterloo is
arguably the country’s most historic golf club. Laid out by
Fred Hawtree in 1923 (and updated by his son Martin in
2003), the La Marache course has some testing woodland
holes. Although the fairways look generous, wayward tee
shots will usually find clinging semi-rough. The undulating
greens are guarded by deep bunkers, something you’ll
also find at its excellent sister course, Le Lion. This was
built in 1985, and it complements the original layout perfectly,
being a tad more forgiving and with glorious views
of the Butte de Lion (the lion-topped monument that commemorates
the Battle of Waterloo).
Sept Fontaines also has two courses, but they are not so
evenly matched, with Le Chateau clearly bigger and better
than the La Foret course. Le Chateau is heavily tree-lined
in places and many tight drives await you, with the 18th
being a terrific risk-reward hole, demanding a carry over
water to the green.
Chateau De La Bawette, meanwhile, also provides a mix of tight tree-lined fairways, combined
with penal bunkering and small greens.
The clubhouse is, unfortunately, a modern
construction, rather than being in
the Chateau, but don’t let that put you
off visiting a very entertaining course.
When you’re golfed out, Brussels has
plenty of attractions to distract you. The
excellent hotels around Waterloo, such as Martin’s Grand
Hotel or Martins Lodge, or Martins Central Park in the city
centre, are all within easy reach of Brussels’ world famous
Old Town, with its beer halls and chocolate shops, and
landmarks such as the Manneken Pis and the Atomium.
All in all, the capital is a superb golfing location but if
you do want to venture further afield, try Mons. It has a
number of very nice hotels, including the Infotel, Ibis and
Mercure establishments in the centre of town, which all
serve as convenient bases for golf at the best courses in
the area – namely, Mont Garni, a tree-lined favourite of
many Belgian golfers, and Royal Golf Club Du Hainaut
with its 27-holes of challenging golf set in a wonderfully
peaceful woodland setting.
Around Spa and Liege there’s yet another cluster of
superb tracks, with Royal Golf Club Des Fagnes, one of
Belgium’s oldest and most prestigious courses, close by,
along with Royal Golf Club Du Sart Tilman and Mergelhof
Hotel and Golf Resort out towards the German border.
Head to the southern region around the town of
Marche-En-Famenne and the pace slows down a bit – perfect
for a more relaxing break. Stay at the stylish Quartier
Latin Hotel and you’ll be in the heart of the quaint town,
while nearby are the superb, Gary Player-designed, Five
Nations Club and the excellent Golf De Durbuy.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine