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Scott Warren

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Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« on: April 12, 2009, 02:42:09 PM »
I just got home from a fantastic long weekend in Bruges. One of the highlights, if not the highlight, was a trip 20 minutes north to Knokke (pronounced k-nok-eh) to play at Royal Zoute.

I enjoyed the round immensely: undulating greens that ran true and quick, engaging risk-reward holes, great conditioning and rough that was playable but uneven enough to wreak havoc with distance. I seem to enjoy courses that let you find your errant ball (within reason), but then make it a really tough assignment to do something useful with it.

The land had plenty of movement that led to blind shots on five holes (three tee shots, the second on the par five 17th and the approach to the par four 13th) and the 6th, 14th, 17th and 18th greens had false fronts. The 18th was one of the best greens I’ve ever seen (pics below).

On the 5th, 10th, 12th and 14th, large dunes eating into the fairway (the first three on the left, the last on the right) provide the lion’s share of the strategy: fly the dune and get a much easier, more open and visible approach, bail out to the safe side and your approach will have to carry mounds, ditches and/or bunkers, and in the case of the 14th, you’ll be coming at the green across the false front.

On that hole, a 330m par four, the false front was combined really well, I thought, with a bunker behind the green. I’m not usually a big fan of bunkers behind the green, but with an approach from inside 80m (I had the wind behind me and had 50m for my second) the fear of leaving the second short and watching it roll back means that bunker is more likely to be in play, or at least play on the golfer’s mind. I didn’t actually see it until I was on the green, so I guess that only really applies for those playing the hole the second time onwards.

Some would say that at 435m, the 5th is too short to be a par five, but the par four 13th played 408m back into the wind. Despite the distance difference I hit driver/5i into the former and driver/hybrid/wedge into the latter. Those two holes, along with the par five 12th, are as good an argument as I have seen that we should just forget about par and build fun golf holes of any and every distance.

As you can see from the pics, 1-7 and 15-18 are a more parkland style, and 8-14 had a lingering link to the original links style of the course. I couldn’t say which style suits the site more, but the combination of styles that existed on the 9th were probably my least favourite aspect of the course (see pics). As well as that, it suffered a bit from bunker-left-and-right syndrome at the greens.

The course was very lush. If it was dryer and mown tighter, the slopes and angles around the green would have come into play a lot more for running approaches.

It’s well worth a visit, and considering it’s 20 minutes from one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and Royal Oostend is just 15km west along the coastline, it’s a course it would be very easy to include in a romantic weekend with your partner.

The first hole, a gentle introductory par four, flanked down the right by a series of bunkers.


The par four second, with bunkers left guarding the green.


Approach to the second.


The par three 3rd. Lovely pushup, two-tiered green.


The 3rd green from the left.


The blind 4th from 200ish out. Take 10 paces forward, and you’re faced with this…


… such is the steepness of the terrain.


The 5th from the tee. Carry the left dune and bunker for an easier second shot.


If you don’t get right down off the dune, the lay-up area is obscured and the short bunker is more prominent.


But from the right, the options are much more visible.


The 6th green, with its false front.


Arriving on the 8th tee, the land begins to look linksier.


The par three 8th. From a 190m hole, the neck for a running approach is surprisingly narrow.


The 9th from the tee. The flag is just visible behind the dune on the left.


9th fairway – linksy…


9th green – how different is that bunkering?!


10th tee. Carrying the left dune (which is about 40m long and houses two bunkers) afford you a much better look at the flag.


If you carry the left, you get this second...


... but if you take the safe route to the right this view awaits.


Looking back up the 10th towards the dogleg.


View from the tee of the par three 11th.


11th greensite from short and right. A large "pimple" in the right of the green isn't really visable.


The second shot at the par five 12th. The bunker you can see is well short. Greenside traps short left and short right are so tight;y recessed you don't see them until you're 50-60m short of the green.


The blind second shot to the 408m par four 13th.


The 329m 14th played downwind. The green is between the two houses, right of centre, beyong the bunkers and dune.


Second shot at the 14th. Note the steep false front.


Looking back down the 14th.


Par five 15th, which bends to about 11 o'clock after the drive.


The approach to the 15th, one of many greens with greenside undulations that provide areas to tuck pins so the green surface isn't visable.


The iconic 16th has lost some of its visual appeal (compare this to pics taken a few years ago...) through trees encroaching.


Here's the full view of the green. And yes...


... the right bunker is as deep as it looks!


Par five 17th from the tee.


Looking back up the 17th to the dune that must be carried with the second shot.


The 17th green from the left.


Looking down the 18th from the tee, a string of bunkers down the right.


Approach to the 18th. The flat terrain gives no hint of what the green holds.


The 18th green from the front right edge.


The 18th green from the left side, shows the steepness of the front left.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 06:50:38 PM by Scott Warren »

Andrew Summerell

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Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2009, 02:17:12 AM »
Thanks for the pics, Scott.

Now when I go to Belgium for my chocolate holiday, I know that I have somewhere to work it off. ;D

RJ_Daley

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Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2009, 02:47:48 PM »
Here is a bonus description of Royal Zoute, with a timely mention of a certain recent major winner.

http://www.go-golf.net/reviews/europe/zoute.html
No actual golf rounds were ruined or delayed, nor golf rules broken, in the taking of any photographs that may be displayed by the above forum user.

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2009, 02:04:26 AM »
itís a course it would be very easy to include in a romantic weekend with your partner.



What a great girlfriend you must have!


Nice report.  I will make it there one day.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2009, 02:33:24 AM »
Tony, with the ferry going to Oostende from Ramsgate, it's not inconceivable that you could fit Royal Zoute or Royal Oostende into a weekend trip to Deal. The crossing is about 90-120 minutes, I think.

Andrew Mitchell

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Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2009, 08:52:00 AM »
itís a course it would be very easy to include in a romantic weekend with your partner.



What a great girlfriend you must have!


Nice report.  I will make it there one day.

I don't think me playing golf fits into my wife's idea of a romantic weekend ;D

Looks a great course though - thanks for the photos Scott.

Have you played any of the London heathland courses yet Scott?  If so how does Royal Zoute compare?

2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2009, 09:13:24 AM »
My girlfriend is extremely generous where golf is concerned. I guess I'm pretty lucky! She even suggested we go to Portugal rather than Sardinia for a summer break this year because Portugal has better golf courses!

As far as London heathland, I have no basis for comparison. The Addington is the only decent London track that I've played so far. Zoute didn't have the drama of The Addington, but in a 10 round split I'd probably go with Zoute 6-4.

Andrew Mitchell

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Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2009, 10:44:44 AM »
Whereabouts in Portugal are you going/playing?

I've been to the Algarve a couple of times in recent years and am back there again next month.
2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

Scott Warren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added)
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2009, 12:10:23 PM »
Probably the Algarve, Andrew. The only track I know of in Portugal is Praia d'el Ray, but being that it's up past Lisbon, probably not there. Which courses do you recommend around the Algarve?

I have read good things in golf mags about the new Faldo track, but how often do you read anything less than positive about a golf course in a golf mag? Even the stinkers seem to get good press!

Scott Warren

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Re: Royal Zoute - lots of pics (back nine added) New
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2009, 04:21:42 PM »

Looks a great course though - thanks for the photos Scott.

Have you played any of the London heathland courses yet Scott?  If so how does Royal Zoute compare?



Now that I have played quite a few heathland tracks, I would say Zoute is clearly better than all I have played bar Walton Heath (Old), which it is on par with, IMO.

Obviously Zoute is not a "heathland" course, but given that comparison, that's what I would say.

In fact the more great golf courses I see, the more I appreciate Royal Zoute:
the movement on 4-7 and 13-17,
the greens on 3, 14, 15, 17 and 18,
the strategy of the dunes on 5, 7, 10, 12, it's just awesome.

The one shotters are a great set, and so varied. 3 is a short iron to a small two-tiered push-up green, 8 is quite linksy, 11 is a great long par three with some clever blindness and 16 is one of a kind with its encircling deep bunkers.

If you are in the region, go out of your way and cash in brownie points to play it.

I believe Tom Doak saw it for the first time recently. If you're having a look in here, Tom, what did you think?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2009, 04:24:20 PM by Scott Warren »

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