To non-golfers, the game can seem like an endless depth of rules, etiquette and lingo that often frightens them from joining. But the game, whether you hit it straight into the hole or right into the river, has some obvious bonuses.
Past US president Bill Clinton said golf was a perfect way for presidents to escape the White House and renew mind and body. Because if you boil it down, some main points of golf are about being in a quiet atmosphere, enjoying the weather and nature, and getting to relax.
And that’s why Hulencourt’s annual Expat Golf Trophy has proved so popular. Every year, the beautiful 17th century building opens the doors to its golf club and welcomes the expat community. “We are happy to take these steps to help strengthen the bonds between expats and the locals” says Salvatore Orlando, Head of Expatriates at BNP Paribas Fortis.
Located in Vieux-Genappe just 30 minutes away from Brussels, the club prides itself on maintaining the highest level of Anglo-Scottish golfing tradition: from the club etiquette right down to the stately home decor.
This club has more than 400 members with a considerable percentage of expats. “Hulencourt has always focused on attracting international members.” A member of Hulencourt’s sporting committee said. “We want to welcome them to the kind of elegance our club offers, one that they may not have yet experienced since arriving in Belgium.” The club’s focus on elegance and traditional truths could liken it to a Belgian St Andrews, thus making it the obvious place for such an international host of players to compete.
Players stroll around an 18-hole course, edging putts, driving shots and even mastering water and sand in order to get the lowest score to be crowned champion of the tournament. This year, there was a bonus for less experienced players to practice their putts under the guidance of teachers and learn the fundamentals before taking to the course.
Previously, expat communities would organise their own golf competitions, but three years ago, Hulencourt gave the opportunity to combine them into one and provided extra steps to create a welcoming feeling and ensure that it isn’t just the pros who get a good chance on the green.
This year’s Expat Golf Trophy, sponsored by BNP Paribas Fortis, in collaboration with partners such as BNP Paribas Fortis, gained leverage through the participation of the British, Dutch, French, and Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
Guests were treated to a gourmet buffet to acquaint themselves with other players and a brief introduction to the game to ascertain their ability. Then, after all strokes were finished and the last ball sunk, an award ceremony was given where the winners received their prizes, and of course, celebratory free drinks in Hulencourt’s member’s bar.
Diego Tasso, organiser of the Expats Golf Trophy, said “Since the first time we’ve run this competition, the number of people attending the Expat Golf Trophy has greatly increased each year. They come once, and they’re impressed by either the course or the club, and then next year they bring their friends.”
Glenn Vaughan, director of British Chamber of Commerce, said “many of our members who aren’t even golf players relish the chance to come to this event. Some of them are, of course, well versed in the game, but it’s surprising how many who have never played take up the challenge to learn about the game.”
This year’s winner was awarded the glass trophy But with growing numbers each year, it’s a victory that can’t be sat on too long as there is sure to be even more newcomers along next year looking to take the title.