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Ran Morrissett

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Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« on: May 14, 2011, 02:39:51 PM »
Here it is: A profile on my favorite course in continental Europe.

Others might vote for Kennemer (and for very good reasons), some for Morfontaine (the coolest of the cool might even say Morfontaine's nine hole Valliere course  8)), turf lovers would put forth Valderrama, Colt lover's might contend Falkenstein or De Pan, a few perhaps for Royal Zoute or El Saler, yet Haagsche is mine. The reasons why are in the profile with no need to repeat them here. One neat sentiment that has been expressed in various ways by visitors to the Netherlands is that if they had only one more round to play they would pick Royal Hague. For a day in, day out course, they would pick the stylish De Pan, about a one hour drive inland. That speaks largely as to the pleasant walk at De Pan versus the roller coaster adventure that one sets out on from the first tee and that continues all the way through to the last fairway at Haagsche. In trying to capture both its thrilling nature as well as its challenge, Gene Sarazen went so far as to call Haagsche "the Pine Valley of Europe"  :o when he covered Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match from here in 1963.

Relative to the best links found in the UK and Ireland, Haagsche's topography offers up both the excitement/unpredictable nature of Lahinch as well as the diversity of challenge of St. Enodoc. Just as the greens at Deal and Ballybunion place both links highly, so too here.  As perfected at Ballybunion, short grass much more so than long grass is a primary challenge around Haagsche's greens, a huge design plus in my book. More so than sheer length, this set of mostly elevated greens make it both handsome and sometimes 'County Down' hard. Just look at the Shell game with Byron Nelson on the GolfClubAtlas Facebook page. Despite a seemingly effortless birdie at the fourth, the legend wore down by the eighteenth where he lost a ball and carded an 80.

Like any truly great links, Haagsche was something for everyone. Quirky moments like at the 3rd and 7th highlight the rambunctious topography while nothing but stout hitting will suffice from the 13th thru the 15th. Recovering to greens like the 6th and 14th can lead to profanity after vexation leaves town when your second chip returns to your feet  :P  :'(.

Word is out on the transformation that Haagsche has - and is - going through, largely under the direction of Netherland based golf architect Frank Pont. Much has changed since young Tom Doak's modest review in 1983 and it's nice to see it on the GOLF Magazine ballot for consideration as a world top 100 course. Personally speaking, I have yet to see fifty courses that I would rather play than here.

See what you think but Sarazen might be a lot closer to being right than most people realize!

Cheers,

Jud_T

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2011, 03:58:20 PM »
Ran,

Great job in highlighting this course, it looks fantastic.  As a Kingsley member, even I had to do a doubletake at the topography of some of those photos.  I really need to visit my old U of C pub crawl buddy Frank one of these days.  I can't really think of a much more fun and educational trip than touring these courses with Frank and doing some sightseeing in Amsterdam.  Good work putting a spotlight on the entire area which flies a bit under the radar here as most of us sit staring at our navels in our own little corner of the globe...
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 04:00:21 PM by Jud Tigerman »
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2011, 04:52:17 PM »
I really can't decide whether I think Royal Hague or Morfontaine is the best course in Europe (I haven't seen El Saler yet). But I really loved RH. It's a stiff test for sure, but the number of out and out fun shots is so high. It's a don't miss
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

John Mayhugh

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2011, 05:29:04 PM »
Excellent course profile, Ran.  Many thanks for this.

Morfontaine is still the continental course I most want to see, but I think second place has changed!

Jim Nugent

Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2011, 01:19:37 AM »
Looks spectacular, and another excellent profile.  One question.  #4 is now 220 yards long.  The caption of the old picture of this hole calls it 230 meters, or around 253 yards.  Back in the 1930s did it play as a par 3, or a par 4?  The bunkers would seem to make it a hell of a carry back then, if it really was 253 yards long, and was supposed to be a one-shot hole. 

Patrick Kiser

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2011, 02:17:21 AM »
Not much to say except ... Wow! 

Does look tremendous and quite the walk it appears.

Thanks for sharing.
“One natural hazard, however, which is more
or less of a nuisance, is water. Water hazards
absolutely prohibit the recovery shot, perhaps
the best shot in the game.” —William Flynn, golf
course architect

Mike_Clayton

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2011, 07:25:52 AM »
Ran,
The Hague is a tremendous course. I first played there in 1980 and we were back last year for a Senior Tour event.
We play there again this year - and not surprisingly some of the pros hated what was happening at 14 with decent shots coming off the green and all the way back down the hill.
It may be the wildest course I have ever played and every hole is distinctive and unique.
And, the clubhouse is one of the best in golf.
It is so different from Morfontaine - but both are extraordinary and well worth the effort.

Sean_A

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2011, 11:39:59 AM »
Ran

Thanks for the profile.  The course looks unbelievable, but managable because the greens don't look excessive.  THe course looks awfully narrow in many places especially given the wild terrain.  Is that a trick of photography or could the course stand to be wider?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Mark Bourgeois

Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2011, 06:00:26 PM »
Thanks for the writeup, Ranardo.

Trees on a links!
Trees on a links!
Looking like a miss
With trees on a links!

Noel Freeman

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2011, 06:56:28 AM »
Excellent course profile, Ran.  Many thanks for this.

Morfontaine is still the continental course I most want to see, but I think second place has changed!

John, if this statement is true, you need to re-arrange your priorities.  Mortfontaine cannot compete with Royal Hague.

Frank Pont

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2011, 03:16:52 PM »
Jud, send me some dates and we're in business (again)

Sean,, interestingly the course doesn't feel that narrow, even for a wild erratic long hitting type like me. A lot of the landing areas are quite wide and steer balls towards the middle of the fairway. Examples of this are holes 1 3,5,6,7,13,14,15. Other holes are quite wide but have (severe) side slopes such as holes 2,9,10,11,16. Hole 18 is basically flat. Keep in mind that when the course openend there was no rough, everything outside the fairways was sand (like Pinehurst seems to have gone back to). Let me know if and when you come over to Holland, would love to spend some time discussing Colt whilst playing on his creations in our Low Countries.

Mark, we are working on the trees, there are already a whole lot less than when I arrived....

Jud_T

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2011, 03:46:06 PM »
Frank,

Done! but probably not in the near future unfortunately.  FYI we've got some interesting Colt tracks over here I may be able to sleaze us onto should you decide to slum it back in Chitown one of these days...Great to have your input here, keep it up...
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

John Mayhugh

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2011, 08:25:39 AM »
Excellent course profile, Ran.  Many thanks for this.

Morfontaine is still the continental course I most want to see, but I think second place has changed!

John, if this statement is true, you need to re-arrange your priorities.  Mortfontaine cannot compete with Royal Hague.

Noel,
All my statements are true - at least as far as I know!  I do hope to find out for myself in the next couple of years. 

Matthew Mollica

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Re: Royal Hague profile is posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2011, 07:36:45 AM »
Such a cool course. Thanks for this review Ran. I'd never have thought golf and Holland could go so well together.

MM
"The truth about golf courses has a slightly different expression for every golfer. Which of them, one might ask, is without the most definitive convictions concerning the merits or deficiencies of the links he plays over? Freedom of criticism is one of the last privileges he is likely to forgo."

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