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Koksijde – Saint-André Golf Course. (1924 - 1930) 

1924 – 1930

Today very few people in Belgium, even among the golfers, know that there was once another beautiful links course at Saint-André-sur-Mer, Koksijde, implanted into the dunes of Doornpanne close to the North Sea.

The 1928 Plumon Guide states that the course of 18-holes is 5.969 yards long and Mr. Burrows is the club professional.

 “The course was designed in 1921 by Mr. H.-S. Colt; 18-holes are finished but there is only a temporary Club House. Two valleys surrounded by dunes form the course, the holes are varied and interesting. Short thick grass grows naturally in the sandy soil. Several well-known experts, including MM. Mackenzie, Alison, Abercrombie and Major Campbell, think that in the future this will become one of the best and most beautiful of the seaside courses.”

 

Koksijde - Saint-André Golf Course. Layout of the golf course.

Layout of the golf course at Saint-André-sur-Mer.

 

Koksijde - Saint-André Golf Course. On the golf course.

On the Saint-André golf course.

 

Initially the St. André S.A. bought a plot of dunes of about 100 ha between Koksijde and Oostduinkerke around 1922 to establish a golf course. As the project was not profitable, the British company who started the project was forced to sell the land to a group of Flemish industrialists in 1928. This new group quickly realized the costs of maintaining a golf course and after a few years proceeded with its liquidation. The land was again put up for sale to establish a neighbourhood of villas. With the exception of two hotels (Normandy and Peniche) this project has never seen the light of day.

The following is an extract of an article called “Golf – Courses in Belgium” by an unknown author, from The Times dating 17. September 1923:

“…The history, so far, is as follows:— In 1919 ColoneI F.T. Bacon, one of the golfing pioneers of the Littoral, started on a walking tour to spy out the land for some suitable site to make good the loss of Lombartzyde, and on which in time a colony of British players might be able to enjoy the best golf at a cost within such means as the income-tax should have left them. With him a fellow spy went, Mr. G.G. Scott, R.A., the architect of Liverpool Cathedral, his task being to advise on the building development if this site might he discovered. Together they ranged the whole coast from the Dutch frontier to La Panne, and at length, when near to despair, they found it. With a final effort they scaled a high dune between Oostduinkerke and Coxyde, and there at their feet lay the promised land.

THE PROMISED LAND. 

Imagine two broad valleys bounded on the north by the dunes through which the Route Royale runs along the coast, on the south by more dunes and the cultivated lands, and separated one from the other by a bisecting range of high sandhills, and you will have a picture of the "terrain". The valleys themselves, blessed with a depth of black earth exceptional to such localities, are traversed by minor ranges of hills enclosing long, narrow straths of turf starred, in their season, with cowslips, wild violas, violets, a wide variety of orchids, and a fascinating creamy-pedalled flower, very like a celandine in appearance, that grows in thousands of little clumps. These straths are separated by low braes, covered to a large extent, at present, with stunted sea-willow and bent, which before long will have made way for acrostics and fescue – the basis of fine golfing turf.

Colonel Bacon and Mr. Scott realized at a glance that they had found that for which they had been seeking. The range of sandhills intersecting the two valleys presented the only difficulty, and accordingly summoned Mr. Colt to their assistance. Mr. Colt came, Mr. Harris followed, the difficulty disappeared, and the links as they now stand, full of youth and promise, came into being. Work was started in 1920 and proceeded apace, but the draught of 1921 caused a temporary set-back. One of the straths already referred to had been used during the war as horse standings, well concealed from all but the scouting aeroplane, and here accordingly the grass was the joy of Burroughs (Henry Burrows that is, the English golf professional earlier attached to Doornsche Golf Club (1910-1919) and Royal Antwerp Golf Club (1920-1924)), the green-keeper, once a caddie at Sunningdale.

The drought brought a prairie fire in miniature and the grass disappeared in a night. Now, however, it is growing again all the better for its purging, and in time it may become another Elysian Fields as fine ad that of its name-father in Fife. All that remains to be done is to secure a water supply that will give a good head of pressure; to start “nurseries”, where a judicious use of acrostics vulgaris, acrostics canina, and red fescue will provide the turf that green committees pray for; and to establish frequent dumps of good compost and manure for mulching. When that has been accomplished, and already the work has been begun, Captain Cyril Dunn, the secretary, Burroughs (Burrows), his foreman Smith, and the indigenous green-men in blue overalls and sabots will have an enviable occupation.

They will be able to see their work growing under their eyes, and, in its result, a links that even St Andrews golfers will admit as possessing virtues worthy of the Old Course. I have seen no other golfing country and certainly no other links, either made or in preparation, of which so much may be said. (…..)

There remains, however, St. André, and by the season of 1924 the links should be in good enough order for a championship…..” 

It is believed that the course was closed around 1930. Today one can still see traces of the course among the dunes, and it seems a great pity that three most beautiful courses on the Belgian coast, including Lekkerbek and Lombartzyde, are lost forever.

Christoph Meister

November 2017.

The Google Map below shows the location of the former course.