A new 18-hole championship course – designed by Michiel van der Vaart – at Golfbaan de Kroonprins in Vianen, Netherlands, opened for play in August 2018. The golf course architect has also been working on a new par three layout, which is expected to open in spring 2019.
“The main objective was to create a fun track for members and green fee players,” said van der Vaart of the championship course. “The members must never be bored and should learn how to crack the course in playing it more often. The visitor should be surprised and think the course is beautiful and not too difficult. It’s not sheer length but finesse that has to lead to the best score.
“We created a so called ‘Dutch-polder-Links’,” said van der Vaart. “There are wide fairways, connecting more than one hole and as little trees as possible within the course, and very large green complexes – on average 650 metres square – with its biggest on hole one being 900 metres square!
“We used the beautiful natural backdrop whenever possible and blocked the bad views if necessary. The home-hole is something special with its 100-metre-wide fairway and an embanked burn [a narrow and comparatively camouflaged stream] running diagonally through the area of the drive and the second shot on this rather short three-shotter. If one dares to take on the longer carry to the left of the hole, across the burn, one gets a great angle to the well-guarded green complex.
“A lot of holes at Kroonprins were inspired by my visit to North Berwick during the EIGCA conference in 2015. It was the most fun track I have ever played! Funnily enough the fifteenth at Kroonprins is inspired by the fifteenth at North Berwick – the Redan. Although the philosophy of the hole at Kroonprins is reversed, with the green severely sloping from front left to back right. l designed my version of the Biarritz green on the eighth hole, which has become a really fun green to play.
“The third hole is a testing par five ending with a punchbowl green that collects all balls from the left side. The right side however is pretty penal with a water hazard near the edge and an old-fashioned hillock [small hill/mound] in front – a feature that I had seen on the second hole on the Old course at St Andrews.”
Van der Vaart first made routing sketches in 2005, but getting the permits was a long and difficult process as the land was well protected by regional and national laws. “We managed to create a masterplan that incorporated all necessary elements, including robust ecological zones that connects the different areas adjacent to the project area and over 16 hectares of ‘new’ nature,” said van der Vaart.
“During the economic crisis of 2008-2010, the initiator did not have the resources needed to push forward. In 2014, the land was purchased by the current owners – the Kool family. They have experience in developing, building and managing multiple golf courses. They have their own contracting firm, so things moved very fast from then onwards.”
Lorries and excavators moved in during autumn 2014 – dirt was brought in during the first phase – with the course being built on a peaty/clay soil.
“The Kool family has seen me as part of their family the last couple of years,” said van der Vaart. “I often could inspire them, and, in the end, I was involved in all decisions that had something to do with the golf experience in general.”
The main clubhouse opened in August 2018 along with the 18-hole course, with the Lingewaelsche Golf Club using the layout as their home course.