Nine-hole reversible course opens in the Netherlands

  • Links Valley

    The Links Valley has opened for play on the site of a former sand quarry

  • Links Valley

    Frank Pont has created a reversible design for the nine hole course

  • Links Valley

    The direction of play will be switched on a daily basis

  • Links Valley

    The North routing…

  • Links Valley

    …and the South

Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

The Links Valley, a nine-hole reversible course designed by Frank Pont, has opened in the Dutch town of Ermelo.

Members played the course for the first time in a soft opening on 16 March, and it is now open to the public. A grand opening will take place in September once the clubhouse is complete.

Co-owner Mike Woltering, a golf professional, has been pleased with the initial reaction: “Our members love the golf and the views,” he said. “The greens have nice movement and there is a 20-metre elevation change on the site.”

“It’s quite an extreme landscape for the Netherlands,” added Pont, who had initially suggested greens with even more undulation. “Most of Holland is fairly flat so when golfers come here they are excited to be seeing something really different.”

Woltering explained that the direction of play will be switched on a daily basis, alternating between the North and South routing. “We can do it in 20 minutes,” he said. “We just move the tee markers and it’s ready to go.”

One of the highlights of the course, according to Woltering, is the par-five opening hole on the North (the closing hole of the South) routing. The course also has two par threes, making it a par-35 that plays in excess of 3,300 yards from the back tees.

Pont’s design, which he first proposed in 2010, was inspired by Tom Simpson’s The Architectural Side of Golf“After reading Simpson’s book, I realised that the reversible course concept could be perfect for this site, which was only ever going to be big enough for nine holes,” he said.

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Pont explained that the course comprises two distinct areas. “It is very exposed and windy on the higher ground, whereas four holes are in a valley that is more tranquil and peaceful. This gives the course great variety.”

The golf course is built on land which had been quarried and subsequently used as a waste dump, before being capped and converted for golf. This presented some challenges on the higher ground, formerly the dump, where drainage and ventilation pipes, and beacons for measuring settlement, had to be negotiated.

But the sandy landscape gave shaper Conor Walsh freedom, particularly in the valley area, where “it was sand as deep as you could go”. Pont said: “Conor has created a fantastic landscape in the valley. I’ve been really impressed with his work since I first saw it at the Castle course in St Andrews.”

The sandy soil also means the course is free draining and playable throughout the year. “My dreams have come true,” said Woltering.