- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Hulencourt: Discover the school for Belgium's budding golf champions
At the idyllic, pristine Hulencourt golf course, just a few kilometres south of the Waterloo battlefield, a new generation of players is being nurtured. The Hulencourt Golf Academy, which opened last year, is aimed squarely at young golfers, giving them tailored training sessions, teaching them every aspect of the game, and offering them a unique opportunity to test their skills on one of Europe’s most beautiful courses.
“We want to give students the best golfing education possible,” says Jérôme Theunis, the head coach of Hulencourt Golf Academy. “We set this up so that it would be open to young people, whatever their ability, so they could take advantage of the best resources available. If they want to achieve higher levels, we can help them.”
The Hulencourt Golf Academy offers young players high quality, multilingual teaching with the best coaches in Belgium. The team is led by Theunis himself, a former Belgian Junior Champion, who started playing golf when he was 12. He is supported by Hulencourt’s physical therapist Emmanuel Spies, whose career has taken in basketball, hockey, tennis (working with former number one Justine Henin) and combat sports.
Theunis describes the Academy as a blend of performance and psychology. It includes an ultra-modern gym, treatment room, conference centre, and indoor short game centre. It includes the state-of-the-art TrackMan simulator, which lets players practice on famous courses in HD, and uses a dual-radar system to track everything the club does before, during, and after impact.
The indoor centre includes a variety of synthetic grasses to help understand how they affect the shots. It allows players to train throughout the year, ensuring their game does not decline in the winter months. “If there is snow or rain, it doesn’t matter: you can still train here, and you train with the best systems available,” says Theunis.
There are special training areas for approaches and small range play, and for getting out of the sand bunker. The set-up is designed to be the most accurate simulation of any golfing challenge, offering students the chance to practice the most difficult and unlikely holes they could ever expect.
The young players can, of course, use Hulencourt’s nine-hole course Le Verger course to test their training in a real setting, and the Le Vallon Championship course. And there are evening classes, as well as guest speakers, to provide members with a different perspective.
Theunis, who coaches stars like Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Pieters, also works with schools, including the St John’s International School, which has developed a successful young team. And for young people looking to take their talent to university, the Academy can help find them find scholarships in the US and the UK (one graduate is heading to Sterling University in Scotland, which has a golf programmes).
Among the Academy’s graduates are budding talents Adrien Dumont de Chassart, Jean de Wouters and Lucas Becht, who are heading for the Junior World Championships this September in Ireland. And, in the case of de Wouters, the Juniors Olympics in Buenos Aires in October.
Theunis says that a year on from the Academy’s opening, the response has been brilliant. “It is lovely, and I can feel a real sense of achievement,” he says. “Seeing kids going to the Olympics, university, going on tour, is so very fulfilling.”