A course doesn’t need to be old to be great: Jack Nicklaus’ Gut Lärchenhof Golf Club

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Second day of the NRW Tour 2016, second stellar course we played. Carsten and I went for Gut Lärchenhof, one of the poshest clubs in the region. It’s a Nicklaus Design and features a fantastic US-design golf course which really lacks nothing. Some will argue there’s very little atmosphere, but truth be told this club is the ultimate package: from the Titleist golf pyramids on the range to the tranquility on the course and the quality of all facilities – Lärchenhof is a modern classic and belongs to one of the top 50 courses in Europe.

Once you get passed the huge gates which secure the property in front of the beautiful club house, you enter a golf-dedicated society. Everything on the property smells quality, everything is very much cared for, everything tries to be perfect.

The only thing which wasn’t perfect was the weather – to be precise, it was the opposite of perfect. We arrived in the morning in drizzle and the forecast was horrendous. We paid the not-so-small green fee knowing there wouldn’t be any refund if we’d need to abort. We were lucky on the front nine, although the rain seemed to intensify. There was no other person on the course playing in these conditions! During the back nine the rain became torrential and we had to take shelter for at least 30 minutes. This was when we met the other two crazy people on the course that day – two pensioneers fighting out a matchplay event. We were impressed… and let them play through.

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So in short, we were extremely unlucky with the weather. It’s a fantastic venue and I love to come back in beautiful sunshine to really enjoy the course to the fullest some day. Because it deserves it! It’s a Jack Nicklaus design, features rolling fairways and an interesting architecture without being overly tricky, narrow or hilly. Lärchenhof hosted several German Masters, several Mercedes-Benz Championships and still is the alternating venue for the BMW International Open on the European Tour. If you ask me, that speaks for itself.

The quality of the course is without a doubt one of the best I’ve seen – and this must have been overly complicated given the fact that rain was omnipresent for the last months. I visited the club once before to attend the BMW International Open as a spectator and I would be surprised if the quality of the greens, fairways and tees had been much different back then. It’s just that we used other tee boxes…

From what we heard, to become a member of the club you have to pay an incredible amount of money but those who can afford, find themselves in golfer’s heaven: on a beautiful and quiet course, with incredible practice facilities, a spacious and luxurious club house and so many little things that make your day on the course as pleasant as possible. Oh, and they have a Porsche Panamera as airport shuttle, just in case you fancy to hop over for a quick round.

It doesn’t do justice to the holes to pick some which really stand out, because they are all stunning, but without a doubt the home stretch 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th is one of the best you can find. Just see for yourself!

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I think this video gives you a very good impression of what to expect for your money. Definitely worth it!

Golficiency Rating: 8/10

Photo credits: golf.de, gutlaerchenhof.de

Kingsbarns Golf Links soars to chart success

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Photo: linksgolfstandrews.com

Kingsbarns Golf Links has recorded an unprecedented leap in one of golf’s most respected course rankings. The significant move, which resulted in the renowned European Tour venue jumping 10 places and entering Golf World’s top 10, firmly establishes the North East Fife course as one of the UK’s must-play golfing venues.

Continue reading Kingsbarns Golf Links soars to chart success

The Old Course flyovers

To absolutely understand what’s so special about the Old Course at St Andrews you either play it yourself, or you watch the TV coverage of The Open from end to end or you search the internet for some good stuff. Problem being the Old Course has such a rich history, there are so many texts, explanations, videos and other information available that it’s almost impossible to get THE one good guide about the course.

If you leave aside all the history, the architecture, the iconic subjects like the Swilcan Bridge, the R&A etc. and just focus on what’s important for the player during the next 4 days, then you should watch this:

I wasn’t sure if I should like or hate the course. Of course it’s different, but different good, or different bad, that’s the question. Bernhard Langer said earlier in the week that he first hated the course. But after some rounds, some years and some tournaments he started to understand the course, to like the course, to consider it the best course in the world. Quite a drastic change in perception, don’t you think?

Everybody who would consider himself an avid golfer should experience this I believe. 2016 is my year. When is yours?

The extraordinary golf experience: Mainzer Golf Club

This course has been on my list for quite a while, it’s not far from where I live, it’s pretty new and made quite a buzz amongst golfers here in my region.

And that’s mainly because Mainzer Golf Club is not the usual course you would expect next door, it’s pretty different from anything I have so far experienced. It starts with the fact that it’s situated in an old stone quarry. This alone should create some pictures in your mind. Huge elevation changes, tall stone walls along the fairways, tee boxes high up with fairways and greens much below the hitting area. It looks like golf from another planet, at least for some of these fancy holes.

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The structure of the course is like this: you play two pretty normal golf holes, then one dogleg right with split fairways along the rim which offers great vistas over the next following holes as they are 30 to 50 metres below from where you are standing at that point. Next hole is a shot into the mine, two more holes at the same level, then a super tricky par-5 steeply uphill with an incredibly narrow fairway at two levels with a stone wall in the middle, and a literally breathtaking elevation change. Once your lungs found fresh air again, you play a par-3 downhill, all what you just came up. One more normal hole and you managed the front nine – and most likely you are out of breath by now already.

The 10 is an interesting tee shot into a split fairway and the 11 is again a par-5 dogleg right which goes up and up and up and up. 12 goes up again by the way. 13 is very short par-3 followed by a par-4 dogleg right with a blind tee shot. Tricky to find the right angle here if you haven’t played the course before. 15 goes up again and now you are more or less at the highest elevation of the entire course. The 16 is another par-5 dogleg with a blind tee shot. A pole marks an alignment point but being there for the very first time it’s difficult to judge for angles and distances. When you hit at the wrong side of the fairway, this hole gets unbelievably long. On paper it’s just 544m from yellow but I hit a 3-wood and a hybrid only to find myself at the 200m marker to hit another hybrid which didn’t reach the green eventually…

As you are very high up on the course, guess what happens next: exactly, you are standing and smashing a ball into the 17th fairway from at least 60 metres high. Believe me when I say a ball takes quite a while to land from that altitude. The 18 is a very pretty finishing hole after which you turn around and say to yourself something like “Yes! I made it, tackled it… ok I lost 20 balls, my legs are hurting, my score was abysmal but the experience was great.” This explains my mood at that time very well :)

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I played with a golf bud, the weather was very good and we had lots of fun. Yes we did lose a number of balls to the biotopes which happen to be found on most holes but we were happy that we finally managed to play the course at great weather conditions on a normal Monday afternoon. Golf definitely beats a day in the office big time!

After the round we sat together, counted scores, had a beer and summed up the day. What I personally didn’t like was the gravel parking lot and the “club house” which is more something you would expect at a down-to-earth football club or tennis court facility. Bit too basic for my liking.

All in all a very interesting course which I definitely will play once more, but it’s a tricky one, I wouldn’t recommend it to players with a 28+ handicap at least they should be aware that the golf performance on that day has to be absolutely secondary and that they have to bring lots of balls. Course management is key here. We very often took shorter clubs in order to play it safe, which was a good thing in the end.

I’m not sure if it will but I tried to take some pictures to illustrate the unusual setting of the golf course, at least for those that can be found in central Europe.

Check out Instagram for more pics.