Michiel van der Vaart progresses renovation work at Amelisweerd

  • Amelisweerd
    Spogard & VanderVaart

    Michiel van der Vaart has introduced a rougher and more natural bunker style at Amelisweerd GC in the Netherlands

  • Amelisweerd
    Spogard & VanderVaart

    Work began in 2020 and half of the planned bunker work has now been completed

  • Amelisweerd
    Spogard & VanderVaart

    Van der Vaart’s work is designed to enhance the natural environment

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Golf course architect Michiel van der Vaart is in progress with a renovation project at Amelisweerd Golf Club in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The club tasked the Spogard & VanderVaart design firm with evaluating the course, originally designed by Gerard Jol in 1997, and develop a renovation plan to improve course aesthetics and make the most of the landscape.

Work began in 2020 and will continue over the coming years. Over half of the planned bunker work has already been completed.

“The challenging greens will remain where they are, but some bunkers will be closed or moved, and the size and style of all bunkers will be changed,” said van der Vaart. “The new bunker style is rougher and more natural. Modifications to the size – and reshaping of the bunker entrances and environments – make the bunkers more visible. The eyes of the course, as I often describe bunkers, have been opened again.

“For average golfers, who play from the correct tee, there is always a way to get past the bunkers, there is always a route past all obstacles. But the better players have to think carefully about which bunkers to carry, which clubs to use and which lines to choose in order to achieve the best score.”

New bunker sand will help prevent balls from embedding and prevent erosion during heavy rainfall.

The mowing policy has also been changed. “Wide fairways offer options to every type of player, but a little further away from the fairways the grass is no longer short as in a manicured park,” said van der Vaart. “Here, nature is given space and nature is also enhanced.

“Around the greens, players generally get more options, too, as many slopes are again managed as short-cut run offs. That makes it possible to putt the ball or hit a low chip. Furthermore, the banks and wooded areas are being modified. These elements will also be managed more naturally and lose their parkland look. In the areas that change, drainage will be improved at the same time.”

Van der Vaart’s plan also includes some relocation of teeing areas and potentially changing a par three into a short par four.

“The facelift makes Amelisweerd more robust and beautiful, but also more nature-friendly than it already was,” said van der Vaart. “The course is located next to the Nature Reserve Amelisweerd and the club treats the landscape responsibly, which is underlined by its sustainability certificate awarded by GEO Foundation in 2018. The nature reserve is home to animals such as badgers, martens and birds of prey, as well as many rare orchids. Those rare orchids and special animal and plant species are also present on the golf course.

“Thanks to the course adjustments and the modified management, the golf course will become even more attractive as a ‘stepping stone’ for the large variety of animals and plants.”

This article is based on a piece that first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.