A storied centurion that was founded much closer to the sea, the Royal Zoute Golf Club boasts two modest links courses that are now landlocked and set around 1km from the Belgian shoreline. Harry Colt is said to have designed both courses here, but neither resembles the layouts he surely left the club as this is now mostly a woodland setting, and over the years the contours have been largely flattened, either by man or mother-nature.
The exterior or long course is the superior track here, but some changes made over the years, like the removal and reshaping of key bunkers, the tiered green on the 3rd, the shortening and lengthening of the 1st and 18th holes and the realignment of the 6th green have not been well handled. Even restored this is only moderately interesting by comparison to Colt's best elsewhere. Flattish and often dull from the tee, there are a handful of decent greens and a couple of good par threes, such as the short 3rd and the 16th. There are also lots of small ripples within the fairways that can make for awkward stances and challenging shotmaking. The greens are well guarded by bunkers and chipping areas, when quick and firm they provide a sound test of approach and recovery play. Thankfully the grass here seems keener than in Holland, it's more of a genuine links grass but still too green and lush for really springy, links-like play.
Royal Zoute is a lovely old club, and a fun layout to play that only lacks genuine top-shelf holes to be regarded among the finest tracks in Europe.