Master of the links
TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS © MASTERGOLF INTERNATIONAL
To golf players, their beloved course is sacred ground. The design of it should, therefore, be developed by expert hands. As a former national and international golf player, architect Bruno Steensels knows like no other what makes a course stand out. With Mastergolf International, he creates some of the world’s finest links.
“A great golf course rests on three pillars,” explains Steensels. “First, you need an interesting location to settle your club. Secondly, you need to design a course which perfectly fits this setting as well as the needs of its future users. And finally, you must make maintenance your priority to retain this good reputation.” As an architect’s office, Mastergolf International is mainly involved in the exquisite handling of the second pillar. To assure their designs respond to the players’ needs, they often collaborate with golfing royalty like Ian Woosnam. “Players on this level are so experienced that they are a valuable source of information to us. Some clients even contract a golf pro themselves to actively help with the design of the course and link his or her name to the club.”
Throughout the years, Mastergolf International has designed many renowned links in Belgium and abroad. Only a stone’s throw from Brussels Airport, they established a tranquil oasis called The National. In Amsterdam, they designed The International, the greens on which the prestigious KLM Open will be played in September. “We also operate in more exotic countries like Brazil or Saudi Arabia. For those projects, we consult with local specialists on which vegetation to use. The soil and climate are very different in these parts, making it impossible to use the same grass and trees as we use here. We always look for the most natural and sustainable option without losing quality.”
When an existing course is due for an upgrade, Mastergolf International performs its magic just as well. By means of a few changes and restorations, they adjust any course to meet tomorrow’s standards. “Although golf is a century-old game, it keeps innovating and changing. Modern sets of clubs, for example, allow golfers to hit their balls further than before. Therefore, the obstacles on the course are not in the right place anymore, undermining the challenge of the game. Golf courses have to anticipate on evolutions like these. If they do, they can last for centuries to come.”