Golf in the Netherlands

Information for the golfer on golfing in the Netherlands: the Golf Federation, the requirements to play (the handicap system, medical certificates) with information on who to contact locally...

Golf in the Netherlands is not new; in fact the game het kolven (first recorded in the 14th century) required a ball to be hit with a stick - not unlike a golf club or hockey stick - towards a target.

The first golf clubs in the country were created at the turn of the 20th century. The Dutch Golf Federation (Nederlandse Golf Federatie or NGF) was created in 1914; the Amateur Championship was first played in 1898, Ladies Amateur in 1906 and the Open in 1912.

The flatness of the land means course designers have a challenge to make golf courses interesting. Some of the preferred courses use sand dunes and coastline for a dramatic effect. As much of the land lies at or just below sea level, many holes have a water hazard. The wind which comes in from North Sea also plays an important factor.

The Golf Federation of the Netherlands

Requirements to Play

A medical certificate is not required to play golf in the Netherlands.

Most golf courses are either privately owned clubs or commercial clubs; it is usually possible to play for the day on payment of a fee without having club membership. Some clubs accept players without a golf handicap.

Golfers holding an official handicap from another country should refer to their local golf course to see how this might be assessed locally. European Golf Association (EGA) handicaps are valid in the Netherlands.

Getting a Handicap

Any golfer may apply for a Dutch handicap; membership of a club is not a requirement.

The process is as follows:

Apply for a handicap. The form (in Dutch) can be downloaded:

  • Application for a Handicap: Click here (PDF in Dutch)
  • Fill it in and post it with proof of identity and a self-addressed envelope to:
    Stichting Golfsport

    At: Postbus 547, 6500 AM Nijmegen
    Tel: 0800 024 8888 (Monday to Friday 09:00-12:30)

Once the application and payment for a year's membership has been made, the applicant is registered.

Before a handicap is issued the applicant must pass a golf proficiency test on NGF rules to qualify for the Golfvaardigheidsbewijs (or GVB) and hand in three qualifying scores.

Golf Proficiency Pass - GVB: The handicap authority (Handicap Autoriteit) issues information on where and when the examination can be taken. The exam is made up of three parts: theory, golf technique and proof of ability.

  • The theory exam is a one hour written test with multiple choice questions
  • The golf technique section tests a player's tee shots, approaches, bunker shots and putting
  • The proof of ability assesses the player's form over four selected holes

If the golfer fails any of the above sections, they may retry that specific section within four weeks of the original exam.

Following the exam, the applicant has 12 months in which to play three rounds and card one Stableford score of 36 or more. The rounds must be played with a pro or registered player and must be marked with an NGF sticker as qualifying (Qualifying Kaart). Certain rules apply to a qualifying round.

Rules are as follows:

  • Must be an 18-hole round on a Dutch, NGF approved course
  • The game must be played according to those set by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the local rules of the club
  • Must use the Stableford system

Once completed, the qualifying cards and proof of exam results must be sent to the Stichting Golfsport. A European Golf Association (EGA) handicap will be issued.

  • For information on the EGA handicap system: Click here

Golf Facilities

There are nearly 80 golf courses in the Netherlands.

The Golf Europe website provides an exhaustive listing of the golf courses in the Netherlands.

Further Information

  • For a list of clubs associated with