The Links Valley, a new reversible course set in the Ullerberg estate near Ermelo in the Netherlands, is expected to open next summer.
Designed by Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design and built by Dutch contractor SBA Golf & Groen, the nine-hole course will be playable in both directions. Pont based the idea on a concept first proposed by English golf architect Tom Simpson some ninety years ago, which he wrote about in issue 46 of Golf Course Architecture.
Creating two different courses on the same piece of land means that the routing has to work both ways, something Pont said created a greater degree of complexity than designing a traditional course.
“It was not trivial given our relatively compact site with height differences of 20 metres,” he said. “Also, the green design has to take into account that the greens will be approached from two sides. We chose to build larger greens to compensate for that and in discussions with the client, decided to go for greens that were inspired by the mildly undulating greens at De Pan. Because the typography is quite severe in many places there was not a need for many bunkers. We used 17 in total, with only one fairway bunker. Finally, the hardest part in designing a reversible are the tee positions, something we kept tweaking until late in the building process. This is especially the case for the tees that are used for both routings.”
The course lies on a former sand quarry, which was partly filled with waste dump. “It meant that there were areas where we were working on top of the waste dump that had been capped with two metres of sandy soil and areas in the quarry valley where there was just pure sand,” said Pont. “In the quarry areas, Conor Walsh, who was doing the fairway shaping with a dozer, was able to create a lot of funky shapes. On top of the former waste dump we had to be somewhat more subdued, because we were not allowed to get too close to the liner capping the waste dump.”
Pont hopes that golfers will appreciate the course’s heathland feel, spectacular topography and plenty of short grass.
“There are four highlights for me,” he said. “First, the spectacular landscape in which the course lies with altitude differences of up to 20 metres. Second, the thrilling locations of some of the green sites. Third, the heathland character of the site surrounded by pine forests. And fourth, the large areas of exposed sand that come in play strategically on many of the holes. For me, The Links Valley is a mix between the landforms of Royal Hague, the greens of De Pan and the open heathland feel of Walton Heath.”
Construction of the clubhouse will begin later this year before the course officially opens in summer 2018.