Golf course architect Bruno Steensels of Mastergolf International has completed a bunker renovation project at Royal Limburg Golf in the north east of Belgium, the first major work on the course since it opened in 1966.
Steensels referred to Fred Hawtree’s original hole sketches to inform his work, restoring bunker shaping that was evident in those illustrations but had been lost on the course itself.
“Over time the bunkers had become generally rounded,” said Steensels. “But Fred Hawtree’s drawings reveal more intricate shaping, which we have tried to bring back.”
The purpose of the project was to improve bunker visibility, aesthetics and performance, and to restore the strategic values of the course. To achieve this, Steensels has renovated 65 bunkers, some of which have also been moved and extended. He has removed others, leaving grassy hollows that provide a different challenge.
Some tees have been expanded and the seventh green has been rebuilt to modern standards, while remaining in keeping with the style of the course. The greens on the thirteenth and eighteenth holes have also been expanded.
Royal Limburg is regarded as one of Belgium’s best courses, known for its large expanses of heather and holes that weave through woodland. Steensels has altered and expanded some of the heather areas to have more impact on the strategy of the holes.
The project was particularly noteworthy for Steensels, because he has been a member of the club since childhood. “I was about unsure about taking on the project, because everyone at the club knows me as a member and golfer, rather than a golf course architect,” he explained. “But I spoke to my wife and she said: ‘if you don’t do the project, someone else will, and I’m not sure you would like that’!”