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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 respectable score.

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

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