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Newsletter


From mid-October we will have full information on membership and green fees. Until then, this newsletter, the website and Facebook will provide a unique behind-the-scenes look.

You will get to experience how our wonderful golf course with driving range, pro store and matching club building are all progressing!

 

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About


De Uller

Words & pictures by Frank Pont

I have been involved in The Links Valley project since 2004, when a handful of Waller family descendants – who still own the De Ullerberg estate – approached me to help them set up a new golf course on their nearly-one-century-old estate near to Ermelo, in the Veluwe area.

 

 

The first time I went around De Uller (the pet name for the estate), I was simply blown away by what I saw: a 9-holes golf course, including fairways of clipped heather and tees surrounded by electrical wire, as protection from the wild boars, where the family had lovingly played golf since the early 1900s. The new golf course however was to be on a different part of the land, where there had formerly been a sand excavation and, in more recent times, a landfill. The area, measuring some 26 hectares, lies bang in the middle of a fly-fir tree wood on unadulterated sandy soil, a very un-Dutch undulating landscape of heather, with height differences up to 20 metres (60 feet).

 

“There was never any doubt in my mind, this was immediately an exceptional spot.”

 

Just picture a blend of De Pan, De Rosendaelsche and England’s Walton Heath, and you will have a fairly good idea of what it is like here. There was never any doubt in my mind, this was immediately an exceptional spot, where any golf course that we were permitted to build would surely become one of the Netherlands top courses. By working closely with ecologists, the Province of Gelderland, the local council and nature conservation organisations, it would subsequently be 15 years before we had the proper planning permission to build the course. Besides, the Waller family had a change of heart as the project progressed and they decided to hand over the development and construction of the course to another party. Since 2015, the project has been in the capable hands of two expert families(Woltering and Rozendaal), who are wild with excitement for the development and who, incidentally, have a stellar track record in the Dutch business world, within the golfing scene and without. The year 2017 was off to a fabulous start: the project could finally get underway with actual construction.

Reversible course

The terrain that we had before us did not allow for an 18-hole course, which meant we opted – early on, in fact – to build a 9-hole course. By chance, in the early stages of the design process, I happened to reread The Architectural Side of Golf, written by reputable classical golf course architect Tom Simpson in 1930. Simpson had been a flamboyant eccentric English golf architect, a true genius from rich aristocracy, with a boldly experimental bent in golf course design, truly pushing the envelope with his ideas. He designed Morfontaine, widely heralded as the number-one European golf course, near to Paris. Closer to home, he worked on courses including Royal Spa, Ravenstein and Royal Antwerp. In an appendix to the book – with the title The Reversible Course – Simpson expands on all the reasons why making a 3-6-9-holes course reversible is nothing short of brilliant.

 

“The golf course ought to be good,
whichever direction one plays it from.”

 

In his piece, Simpson clarifies the abundant advantages of a reversible golf course: the divots are spread out over the fairway, as is the traffic around the greens. The wind effect on the game is more varied. In fact, you have two golf courses instead of just the one. More variety as to direction, length and type of approach shots to the greens further add to its appeal. He does offer words of warning on the downsides, though: for a reversible course to succeed, one requires a site that has relatively understated countryside, nothing too outspoken. Furthermore, it is easier to build a reversible course from scratch, than to convert an existing one, later on. Most importantly however, it is extremely challenging for an architect to design a really good reversible course, which is in effect a design for two good golf courses. Or, to quote Simpson’s own words: “the golf course ought to be good, whichever direction one plays it from.”

Photo dated May 22nd 2017

 

At first in Europe

After I had reread Simpson’s piece, I was persuaded that designing a reversible course for “De Uller” was the way forward, partly because there was no future option of converting it into an 18-hole course. The terrain is well-matched to a reversible course, besides. Even though there are great variations in elevation, the holes have a gentle descent and ascent. As a result, The Links Valley is set to become the very first reversible golf course in Europe.

 

“I am convinced that The Links Valley will instantly become one of the top Classic courses the very minute it opens”

 

In which direction the course will be played, is yet to be determined. Most likely, the direction will be alternated on a daily or weekly basis, with the clockwise course being made up by the North Course, and the counter-clockwise consisting of the South Course. There will also be frequent opportunities to play the North and South courses on the same day, which effectively means playing 18 holes consecutively.

 

Top Dutch course

I am absolutely convinced that The Links Valley will instantly become one of the top Classic courses the very minute it opens. Its un-Dutch undulating elevation, the unique concept of a reversible golf course, the softness of the sandy soil, the heather gently beginning to appear, it all offers unprecedented appeal. So too does the strategic design of the golf course and the work of top shapers including Irish Conor Walsh and Dutchman Lowie Bussemakers. Courses like De Pan, De Hoge Klei, De Haagsche and De Eindhovensche will now have this astonishing course joining their exalted ranks. Right now, the great thing is you can easily become a member at The Links Valley – you’d better be quick about it though, that’s my advice! ∞

Contact


From mid-October we will have full information on membership and green fees. Until then, this newsletter, the website and Facebook will provide a unique behind-the-scenes look.

You will get to experience how our wonderful golf course with driving range, pro store and matching club building are all progressing!