City break: Brussels, Belgium
Where to play on your Brussels golf break:
Royal Belgium: Lots of Belgian clubs have regal titles but this one deserves it right up to this era. It’s the sort of place where a prince will leap out from behind a bush while playing in the group in front. Tough to get on but Tom Simpson’s classic old design is a joy – and ‘Ravenstein’ is very playable.
Royal Bercuit: Sneakily good former European Tour host that was designed by Trent Jones Sr.
The National: This is the new modern course on the agenda, a Bruno Steensels design on land that used to be used for the country’s biggest horse racing circuit. Naturally the land was flat, so Steensels shaped mounds and added small lakes to add visual and strategic interest to the layout. Sits close to Ravenstein in Tervuren.
Royal Waterloo (La Marache): Designed by Fred Hawtree in 1960 but the greens were completely renovated by his son Martin in 2005. A championship-status course that winds between mature trees over undulating land.
Royal Waterloo (Le Lion): Built in 1980, next to the battlefield of Waterloo, the famous Lion’s Mound overlooks several of the holes. The 7,000-yard course has hosted an Open Laurent Perrier and was entirely remodelled by Martin Hawtree in 2014.
Hulencourt: Sits half an hour’s drive south of the city centre in a grand old estate. There are 27 holes here by Jean-Emmanuel Rossie, although Le Verger is very much the ‘third’ loop. Al three nines are routed over gently undulating terrain in the Brabant district.
What to do
A day in Bruges: Worth a trip as one of the most characterful cities in Europe. And once you’ve had enough of amazing architecture take a tour of one of the many distilleries…
The Grand Museum: Considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe, the ornate Grand Place is the centre of Brussels, where many historic buildings dating from the 17th century are located.
Mini Europe: Stroll about the continent at the Miniature Model Park of Europe. You can explore some of the most beautiful cities of the Old Continent – and even hear the unmistakable chimes of Big Ben as you visit London! Venice’s waterways and the canals of Amsterdam are also a highlight.
Where to stay
Metropole Hotel: We stayed here and it was terrific value if lacking in any kind of atmosphere. Which was in stark contrast to our next accommodation…
Martin’s Klooster Hotel: This hotel was in nearby Leuven and it was magnificent, oozing character decorous with the setting of the medieval town in which it sits. Klooster did however also boast modern style and service – and a superb yet unfussy breakfast from which many big-name hotel groups could learn. Just make sure you have a map and GPS handy as this medieval town is full of dead ends and one-ways. Martin’s Hotels also offer a terrific-value Golf Pass taking in lots of second-tier courses.