Case Studies

Put all your cards on the table

The Haagsche’s openness reflects pride in its achievements

17th April 2015
Assessing progress
The 7th hole typifies the glorious dune landscape at The Haagsche.  

The Royal Haagsche Golf & Country Club (‘The Haagsche’) was founded in 1893, and is the oldest golf club in the Netherlands. In 1947, ‘The Haagsche’ moved to its current location in the dunes of the village of Wassenaar, north of The Hague. The original course was too heavily damaged to restore due to the German occupying forces during the Second World War. For nearly seventy years now, the Club’s members have been playing on the highly-undulating and varied course designed by Colt, Allison & Morrison. Several national and international championships were played here and many a top player found himself underestimating the undulating coastal dune course.

The Royal Haagsche has decided to pursue an active green policy and one of the driving forces behind this policy is Lout Mangelaar Meertens, a former Dutch international, an ex- member of the Committee of the Haagsche and of the Dutch Golf Federation and, from 1999 to 2006, a member of the Rules Committee and subsequently the Championship Committee of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

“The Haagsche has been GEO Certified since 2010”, says Mangelaar Meertens. “At the beginning, committee members were hesitant in starting the certification trajectory because they feared criticism from nature and environmental organisations. But talks with outside experts and representatives from Dunea, the Provincial Water Company, proved that coming forward with the green plans was, in fact, a very good idea. I fully agreed with that, because Golf Clubs should be clear in acknowledging their social responsibility.”

Lout Mngelaar Meertens

“Golf Clubs should be clear in acknowledging their social responsibility” Lout Mangelaar Meertens

When asked what is one of the most significant changes at the Haagsche, Mangelaar Meertens is clear in his response: “The original ‘open’ dune character has been restored, thanks to Golf Course architects such as Donald Steel and Kyle Phillips. They pointed out that The Haagsche was slowly turning into an inland course. On their recommendation, and led by Dutch Golf Course architect Frank Pont, rather rigorous changes were made.”

But 'green thinking’ was also shown through the responsible and restrictive use of water. “The Haagsche is situated in the middle of a water-collection area”, says Mangelaar Meertens. “We’re only allowed to use a maximum of 50,000 cubic metres of water. On average, we’re currently using 28,000 cubic metres. On a course like ours, the fairways needn’t always be green. In fact, they’re usually quite yellowish during the summer. We are, of course, also very careful and responsible with our waste water, and we’ve taken several energy-efficient measures for the clubhouse and the green keepers shed.”

Last year, the Committee of the Royal Haagsche invited a large number of representatives from surrounding Municipalities and the Province of South Holland to see the work they have achieved.  Mangelaar Meertens is eager to point out, however, ‘But, we also invited important people from nature and environmental organisations. And, after a guided tour, one of their prominent members expressed how impressed they were about what we’ve achieved and are going to achieve at The Haagsche. My advice to all the clubs is, therefore, to have your house in order and put all your cards on the table. This is so much better than being anxious, over-cautious and secretive.”