A former Dutch jeweler, once described as “a little Napoleon,” will soon break ground on a country club that will “achieve a level of quality” that “has not previously been realized” in the Netherlands, writes Robert Vasilak.
That’s how Sander van Gelder describes his Dutch piece de resistance, which will be built on 165 acres in s’Hertogenbosch, a city of 137,000 that’s 60 miles south of Amsterdam. S’Hertogenbosch is probably best-known as the birthplace of Hieronymus Bosch, the famous Dutch painter, but by the spring of 2012 it’s also expected to become the home of Cromvoirt Golf & Country Club.
Cromvoirt’s centerpiece will be an 18-hole, tournament-quality golf course designed by Kyle Phillips, a Granite Bay, California-based architect. The club will also feature what its marketing materials call “a prestigious clubhouse,” “training facilities at a professional level,” a business center, a wellness center and a restaurant operated by Johan Busio, a Dutch celebrity chef.
Van Gelder has made a small fortune by selling high-priced luxuries to people who can afford them. He built (and then sold) a chain of jewelry stores in Amsterdam, and in 1977 he made a splash in golf by purchasing Vale do Lobo, one of the premier golf properties on Portugal’s Algarve coast. He once called the 1,000-acre spread and its 36-hole golf complex “the envy of Europe,” but he soon grew frustrated by his inability to run the place to his liking.
He started rubbing a lot of people – local political officials, the golf club’s directors, and even the community’s residents – the wrong way. They took to calling him “a dictator” and “a megalomaniac,” and things pretty much went downhill from there. In 2003, van Gelder summed up his experience by telling the Portugal News, “You cannot please all the people all the time.”
Van Gelder sold Vale do Lobo in 2007, but he didn’t leave the golf business. Today he owns Moyland Castle Golf Resort & Country Club in Bedburg-Hau, Germany, and he has a minority stake in the Dutch, an emerging club in suburban Amsterdam. The Dutch’s Colin Montgomerie-designed course is expected to open this year, and it’ll eventually be joined by a Sam Torrance-designed track.
Van Gelder hopes to break ground on Cromvoirt’s golf course early this year. The track is expected to stretch past 7,300 yards.
This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to WorldEdition@aol.com.
World Edition of the Golf Course Report www.worldgolfreport.blogspot.com
Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design www.kylephillips.com