AT THE BELGACOM
ROYAL ZOUTE - KNOKKE-HEIST
Barber - Publisher, Golf
ever lucky enough to be invited to play in a Pro-Am before
a European Tour event, don’t refuse.
case it was the Pro-Am preceding the Belgacom Open being held
at Royal Zoute in Knokke-Heist.
was designed by Harry Colt and opened for play more than 100
years ago. The course does not look too tough, but it is a
tremendous challenge for anyone. La Zoute never tries to hide
any of its difficulties and it requires a well placed tee
shot to give an easier approach shot to fast and well contoured
greens that are cleverly and subtly defended. A classic course
and one that all golfers should know sooner or later. Recommended
by the Peugeot Golf Guide as one of the best links courses
in Continental Europe.
was in immaculate condition for the Belgacom Open and our
bonus was that the day was warm, sunny and calm and the 8.30
am start from the 10th tee hadn't attracted too
much attention from the residents of Knokke.
Our Pro, Angel Cabrera, currently lying 14th in the
European Tour Order of Merit, launched his first drive like
an exorcist missile. My partners, Olivier Randegs, a four handicap
member at Zoute and Jef Hellemans, a respected Belgium journalist
and myself, followed as best we could. Surprisingly, Angel who
has played the European Tour for 6 years has never won a European
Tour event, although he has had plenty of top 10 places and
filled the runner-up spot on a number of occasions. A charming
man with a ready smile, Angel shepherded us around the
A deft touch around the greens allowed to an ability to hit
a 7.5 degree driver immense distants from the tee and off at
the fairway, gave our team a solid base. With Olivier demonstrating
why he was a 4 handicap player and Jef and I having the occasional
spark of brilliance our team was pleased to finish with a score
of 65. We were not the worst but were no way near the team of
Tinning who won the morning Pro-Am with a net score of 58 equalled
in the afternoon by Gary Orr and his team.
The finale to
the Pro-Am was lunch in the clubhouse at Zoute. I was assured by
the locals that this was the normal standard, if so it’s a very
high one indeed.
by P&O Stena Line, Dover to Calais, but you can also travel
Sea France or for those who don’t want the ambiance of a min-cruise
in a state of the art ferry, you can whiz under the channel on ‘Le
Shuttle’ in slightly less than half the time.
The beauty is
that Knokke is less than 2 hours drive from Calais on excellent
is a lovely town with beautiful beaches, shops and restaurants.
Avoid August because fashionable Belgians descend on Knokke
as the place to visit.
want to experience a real gem of a golf course that makes
you stop and think then definitely put Royal Zoute on your
itinerary. If you’re in Belgium for a few days then travel
the short distance to Royal Antwerp and play another great
course carved amongst pine trees.
stayed courtesy of the Tourist Board at the Approach Hotel in
Knokke-Heist which I’d thoroughly recommend for its quality
and the courtesy of the staff. Knokke has many hotels most of
them close to the shops, the sea, the restaurant and the golf.
but friendly game of golf played in lovely surroundings – that sums
up my Pro-Am day – what more could you ask? Knokke-Heist and Royal
Zoute, thank you, I’ll be back.