It’s actually been a while now that I played the NRW Tour 2016 with Carsten, with whom I originally wanted to play in St Andrews. And although the trip to Cologne and Düsseldorf was absolutely worth it, the weather had been utterly horrible. But it seems 2016 is the year of rain here in Europe, so I guess it’s fair to say we played in “fairly normal” conditions.
St Andrews has been on our list for longer and was anchored in our calendars. When we finally got the information that we cannot get a tee time during that week, we were pretty smashed – quite obvious for serious golf fans I reckon. But instead of getting depressed we found ourselves a very good alternative. We thought we have some very good courses here on our own. Maybe not as nice and historical as the home of golf, but still more than decent clubs to visit.
A word and a blow, we penciled out an itinerary that included four of the very best courses Germany has to offer. And we couldn’t wait to start the week.
First on the list was Golf- und Land-Club Köln, or translated, Golf & Country Club Cologne. This venue is beautifully placed in the neighbourhood of Refrath outside of Cologne. It’s a classic parkland course, designed by Berhand von Limburger. “Refrath”, as many call the club, is one of the oldest in the whole of Germany.
At 8am I entered the property through the huge automatic gates with the embedded club logo. I’ve seen these kind of entrances in English clubs, but that was the first time I saw that on the continent. So the welcoming couldn’t be better for that day. I was the first guest and waited for my three playing partners Carsten (my golf buddy for the week), Zoltan (a member of the club) and Moritz (playing tour pro) to arrive.
Refrath is a classic members club. It’s impossible to get a tee time on the weekend if you’re a guest and on the course there are no signs where to go to the next hole or how to play from the tee. It’s just assumed that you are either a member who know the course inside out or you are accompanied by a member who could help out here and there.
The course itself is beautiful. The weather was cold and windy on the first 9 and on the second we also had rain showers, so obviously the overall atmosphere could have been better, but generally the club is an absolute stunner. The condition was impeccable, even after long periods of rain, the layout is classic Limburger-style and extremely eye-pleasing. We really enjoyed playing. For the most part the routing meanders through a forest, only on very few holes you had the tee box or the fairway in proximity to a public road.
The course has been venue to the German Open quite a number of times. Local hero Bernhard Langer won here, Severiano Ballesteros held the course record and the European Seniors Tour comes by from time to time as well. So you see, it’s one of the nicer venues you can think of.
The club house sits right by a small lake, offering nice views for those golfers who want to have a rest on the terrace after a round. We were soaked and chilled, so we went inside and enjoyed the atmosphere in the “Berenberg Lounge”. All in all a very nice start to a full golfing week.
Golficiency Rating: 7/10