Information about golfing in the Netherlands: the Dutch golf federation, requirements to play (handicap system, medical certificates), club membership requirements and Holland golf courses…
Golf in the Netherlands is not new; in fact the game ‘het kolven’ (first recorded in the 14th century) required a ball to be hit with a stick – not unlike a golf club or hockey stick – towards a target.
The first modern-day golf clubs in the country were created at the turn of the 20th century. The Dutch Golf Federation (Nederlandse Golf Federatie or NGF) was created in 1914, the Amateur Championship was first played in 1898, Ladies Amateur in 1906 and the first Open in 1912.
Holland’s flat land means course designers have a challenge to make golf courses interesting. Some of the preferred courses use sand dunes and coastline for a dramatic effect. As much of the land lies at or just below sea level, many holes have a water hazard. The wind which comes in from North Sea also also plays an important factor.
Requirements to Play
A medical certificate is not required to play golf in the Netherlands.
Most golf courses are either privately owned clubs or commercial clubs; it is usually possible to play for the day on payment of a fee without having a club membership. Some clubs accept players without a golf handicap.
Golfers holding an official handicap from another country should refer to their local golf course to see how this might be assessed. European Golf Association (EGA) handicaps are valid in the Netherlands.
Learning to play golf begins with lessons from a golf professional. Almost all golf instructors speak English. Once the golf pro determines you have enough basic skills, you will receive a NGF Golf Course Pass. The pass will have your name and the golf course where you can play. You learn the rules of golf through the club, the golf professional and self-study. Before or after receiving your NGF Golf Course Pass, you can take the golf proficiency exam. You need this before getting your handicap.
Golf Proficiency Exam (GVB): The exam is made up of three parts – theory, golf technique and proof of ability.
- The theory exam is a one hour written test with multiple choice questions
- The golf technique section tests a player’s tee shots, approaches, bunker shots and putting
- The proof of ability assesses the player’s form over four selected holes
- If the golfer fails any of the above sections, they may retry that specific section within four weeks of the original exam.
The handicap authority (Handicap Autoriteit) issues information on where and when the examination can be taken.
Getting a Handicap
Once you have an NGF Golf Course Pass and have passed the GVB golf exam, you can play a qualifying round on the golf course that issued the NGF Pass. You then play ‘handicap 54’ with a marker that has a registered handicap. When you reach 36 stableford points at 18 holes (or 18 points at 9 holes), you get handicap 54 or lower. You will receive a NGF pass that states your handicap. D
Certain rules apply to a qualifying round.
- Must be an 18-hole round on a Dutch, NGF approved course
- The game must be played according to those set by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the local rules of the club
- Must use the Stableford system