Golf plans for 2020 in full swing

The 2019 is coming to an end slowly but surely. The days are getting shorter, it’s getting much nastier outside than it used to be weeks ago. As I’m writing this, it’s raining cats and dogs outside and nobody would get me on a golf course right now.

Unless fall is showing up again with a lovely October or we spontaneously decide to leave for a break to the southern hemisphere, the proper rounds I’m going to play are coming to phase out for this year (unfortunately).

Perfect timing to plan for next year!

As some of you might know, throughout the year I’m playing a Deutsche Bank tournament series which brings me to lovely courses here in the region, including:

  • Frankfurt
  • Main-Taunus
  • Lich
  • Hanau-Wilhelmsbad
  • Hofheim

…and many others.

For recreational golf, without any tournament pressure, I created a list of German golf courses which I plan to play in 2020:

  • München Eichenried
  • München Aschheim
  • Gut Kaden
  • Weimarer Land
  • St. Leon-Rot
  • Winnerod
  • Mannheim-Viernheim
  • Stuttgart Solitude
  • Köln
  • Ulm
  • Hardenberg

As you see, these are spread all over Germany. Some in the north, some in the south-east, some in the south-west, in the west, in the east—so pretty much all over the country. And even though this means a lot of driving, I can’t wait for some to play (some for the first time).

Excellent round of golf at one of Germany’s top destinations – Golf Club St. Leon-Rot

When it comes to famous German golf courses, admittedly, there might only be a handful. Munich-Eichenried comes to mind, so does Lärchenhof due to the BMW tourneys. More recently the European Tour teed off at Green Eagle near Hamburg and both Frankfurt and Gut Kaden have already staged pro events in the past.

So did St. Leon-Rot, one of Germany’s top courses and host to numerous Deutsche Bank SAP Open tournaments as well as the Solheim Cup.

The course is located 90 minutes from where I live so I decided to give it a go, a couple of weeks ago. On a Monday morning, in beautiful sunshine, I went down there and had a pure blast. But first things first:

Continue reading Excellent round of golf at one of Germany’s top destinations – Golf Club St. Leon-Rot

The 50 most beautiful golf courses in the world you can play

According to Golf Advisor, this is the list of the world’s most beautiful courses which are open to play for the mortals. So you’ll find Pebble Beach, which sets you back 500 dollars, but you wouldn’t find Cypress Point which clearly, as the direct neighbor, is equally beautiful but is a private member’s club, one of the stricter ones even.

You can believe what you want in terms of rankings, this has its US-focus as well and only lists 5 Continental European courses after all. Not fair, you might argue. Well I have very little comparison I’m afraid to judge if the US-courses indeed are of such perfect beauty that courses of other regions are under-represented to a certain extent.

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Unbeatable coastal golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links | (c) pebblebeach.com

From those 50 courses, I’m fortunate enough to have played 2 at least. The rest is a working target. Will keep you posted on the outcome, as always.

So this is the list with more details:

Continue reading The 50 most beautiful golf courses in the world you can play

The 2026 Ryder Cup at Adare Manor will be absolutely mind blowing

Very recently it was announced that the 2026 Ryder Cup (and yes that’s a long way to go) will be staged at Adare Manor in west Ireland. Despite the fact that I’ve been to Ireland a couple of times already, I’ve never played golf there. It was mostly work and one buddy trip from London, but golf was never an option.

I remember that I’ve seen all these lads with golf travel cases at Dublin airport and said to myself “I want that, too!”. So golf in Ireland has been on my bucket list for quite a while, especially the south-west is something that I’d like to tick off that list rather sooner than later. Apart from these legendary courses such as Ballybunion, Waterville, Lahinch, Tralee, Doonbeg, Old Head etc. there are others in other parts of the island, like Portmarnock, European Club, the K Club and alike that I had on my list.

I did not have Adare Manor on it, and truth be told, I have no idea why not. The property (hotel and course) was fully renovated in 2017, so I reckon it has to do with the fact that the golf course changed quite dramatically in the recent past. But I wasn’t prepared to see such beauty when somebody told me Adare Manor will host the Ryder Cup.

I investigated quite a bit since then and can officially agree that it’s one of the worthiest places to host the pan-Atlantic tournament everybody is so much longing for.

But see for yourself.

I hope to play here before 2026 in order to give you a more personal view rather than just showing you a professionally produced resort video, which I have to admit is pretty cool indeed.

Fell in love all over again. Damn.

Preparing for St. Leon-Rot, tee time booked

Just in case you are not familiar with St. Leon-Rot, this course is situated pretty much in the heart of Germany. It was ranked “Best Golf Course in Germany” for some years in a row but you will likely know it from professional golf tournaments such as the Deutsche Bank SAP Open or the Solheim Cup.

Speaking of SAP, the company’s headquarters are just a stone’s throw from the course and one of the SAP founders, Dietmar Hopp, opened the club in the mid-90s and since then takes good care that the club improves, maintains quality, and retains its good reputation as top notch European Tour destination and golf elite training center. He also acts as president of the club.

Living in the Frankfurt area, a one hour drive from St. Leon-Rot, I have to admit I’ve never been there. And this is exactly what I will change.

I just booked a tee time in roughly three weeks and can’t wait to tee off here. The club offers two championship courses, the St. Leon and the Rot. From what I’ve seen two courses with fairly different characteristics. The St. Leon being a bit more open, with more water, compared to Rot, a bit more classic tree-lined, more parkland style. But as said, that’s currently just assumption only and I will check if that’s a fair assessment after I visited the club.

Have I mentioned that I’m looking forward to it…? Can’t wait really!

Links Golf: Long awaited visit at Golf Club Föhr

aaaI can’t recall exactly but I might have been to Föhr a dozen times. Föhr, the neighboring island to Sylt in north Germany, was one of my parents’ usual family summer holiday destinations and as a kid I remember spending quite some time on the island. I didn’t appreciate the beauty of it back then and when I reached a certain age, I just stopped going without hesitation. Needless to say I wasn’t golfing in my teens and never visited the golf course—until just recently. I had to become 40 years of age and the course needed some severe renovations in order to be mentioned in golf articles and to earn a spot on my bucket list.

I was born and raised in the north of Germany and therefore beaches, islands and the North or Baltic Sea are quite normal go-to places for me. I’d say I feel comfortable on remote islands, appreciate the Frisian landscape, the way of life and also enjoy the nature more and more.

In 2019 I thought it’s about time to go visit the island of Föhr again, spend some time with my parents in our old holiday hideaway, bring my own little family and wallow in reminiscences. Clearly I packed my golf clubs as well, because in the past years the local golf club, which is around since 1925, underwent quite some drastic changes to the course layout and architecture and all I’ve heard and seen so far sounded amazing. So I just had to go.

Continue reading Links Golf: Long awaited visit at Golf Club Föhr

Quick visit to Gut Kaden Golf und Land Club

gutkaden-1In June, on our way to Föhr, where two rounds of links golf were planned, we made a very short detour and stopped for one of the most beautiful golf resorts in north Germany.

Gut Kaden Golf und Land Club is a 27-hole resort 30 minutes north of Hamburg, Germany. It sits remotely in the picturesque Holsteinian countryside on grounds what used to be a manor back in the days. The gorgeous manor house, also represented in the country club’s logo, was built in the 18th century while the whole grounds as aristocratic estate date back to the 14th century even.

Today you’ll find in such magnificent surroundings a modern hotel, an exquisite restaurant, three 9-hole golf loops and everything you need to enjoy a great golf getaway.

These two chairs are placed behind hole B9 and overlook some parts of the golf estate from the manor house’s perspective. When I posted this picture on Instagram, I titled it “Could sit here all day”. And that’s no exaggeration: Bring good food, good coffee, good wine and I’d spend the day here watching some golf.

Of course, I’d rather play myself, but you know what I mean. This is a fine place for golf. Period.

The region of Hamburg is truly blessed with top courses of all sorts of style. And even when Kaden is not equally good or famous as Falkenstein or Hittfeld, it is definitely a club worth having in mind when you’re after great golf, amenities and hospitality.

If Hamburg was chosen to host the Olympics in 2024, Gut Kaden would have been the venue for the golf events as they have quite some experience staging professional golf tournaments. The 2019 German Team Championships (“Final Four”) will be held at Gut Kaden later this year, too.

My course review yet to come. Stay tuned.

For the best idea how Gut Kaden looks (and plays) like, you should watch this neat 3D flyover video.

Our round at Weimarer Land on video

You will have read here, that Golficiency had quite some weekend at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land a couple of weeks ago. We had a camera with us and rolled it here and there, and this is the outcome.

What you see is three terrible weekend golfers on the Goethe course at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land—having much fun nonetheless!

Long golf weekend in Weimar

On our quest to play the best courses and see the best resorts in Germany, you’ll find yourself from time to time to look out for new jewels. A good starting point has always been the commonly known ‘best-of’ rankings in golf magazines for the various countries you’re interested in. And although one should be a tad skeptical about these lists in general, there are indeed some courses which find themselves in top 5, top 10 or top 20 ranks over and over again. So there must be some truth in it.

We heard so much positive about Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land for quite a while that it was no real question if we’d like to tee off here and check for ourselves—it was more a question of when.

Being on and off the agenda for some time, we took a shot this June and finally made it to Weimar, and more precisely to Blankenhain, in the deep Thuringia countryside. The resort offers two courses so it was decided amongst a group of three to stay for a long weekend to enjoy golf to the fullest. Due to some family issues on my end we unfortunately missed most of the planned Friday activities, but everything what came on Saturday and Sunday did not at all fell short of expectations.

Insta Post Weimar

The resort has so much to offer that it would be a shame not to mention all the nice amenities on the property.

First things first

The resort is located on grounds which were farm land back in the days. Where cattle was once fed, there is a fairway now, where fish was bred, there is a water hazard now. Members of the Grafe family years ago decided to invest in that land and start a hotel and golf complex. And it turned out a good idea to use the basis of the ex farm houses and neatly transform them into what now looks like purpose-built high-class hotel and golf facilities with a rustic feel.

Being placed in the countryside, half an hour from Weimar, it is a tranquil place to play golf indeed. There is nothing that would interfere in your game, nothing that would take the concentration from you, unless you really want to.

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The approach of the resort (or the management for that matter) seems to be delivering top services and then grow, increase and expand to the next level. A good example are the golf courses themselves. Currently there are two of them: The Goethe course and the Feininger course. Goethe opened in 2010 and Feininger followed in 2012. You can also play a course named after Bobby Jones which is a collection of different holes as a combination of the two existing courses. It’s made up of 1 to 5 and 15 to 18 of the Goethe course plus the 10 to 18 of the Feininger course. That makes it a better spectator’s course as it’s looping 9 out and 9 in from the club house.

There are plans to build another course as well and also to overhaul the resort’s par-3 course with additional holes. Something that’s not necessary to redo is the practice facilities. Here you find everything you need including a range equipped with Trackman devices, Flightscope and a box dedicated to Logical Golf (basically a TechnoGym kinesis golf fitness wall)

Christoph Städler and his team were responsible for the complete design of golf facilities and course architecture. They created a resort which quickly became famous domestically and was awarded ‘Best New Course in Germany 2013’ by Golf Magazin. Meanwhile it is selected member of ‘World of Leading Golf‘.

The courses

Going into a bit more detail, the courses for me are typical resort courses. Fair for most players, but challenging enough for the better players. If you are able to strike the ball well and have decent length, you are confronted with hazards and bunkers which are out of play for the shorter (or smarter) players.

‘Hard par, easy bogey’ has been the philosophy designing the courses, according to Städler but it has to be said that while these are great courses for all sorts of players, those better and longer ball strikers who manage to find the fairway more often, will miss one or the other challenge throughout the course, especially because there is no additional tee box. It’s just yellow and red and a scratch player plays from the same tees as a senior, with all due respect.

The Goethe plays approximately 6’000 meters for the gents (CR 72.2, slope 134) and looks like an old parkland course (despite being so young) due to the surrounding woods. The holes feature undulating fairways and interesting routing.

The third hole is a beautiful par-3 with water in front and to the left and is just a very pretty golf hole.

Hole 5 is laid out on an interesting plateau for the second shot, number 6 rewards a brave approach shot, 4 and 7 are tricky par-5s.

The 12th is the absolute signature hole in my opinion. It’s played downhill towards a pond that splits the fairway in two parts. So what’s necessary is either a short straight lay-up and a second over water, or a full shot to the right hand side, but then still a second shot over water, a bit shorter from that angle though. Beautiful hole, course management tactics required.

The 15th features a split fairway with an approach shot through a tree corridor, over a bridge into a rather small green.

These are a couple of examples of interesting holes on the Goethe course, but all others not mentioned are far from boring. And the distances from green to next tee are so short that even Reisegolfer would approve.

One thing I might mention as critique is the fact that there are quite some blind holes, meaning you don’t see the flag from the tee box and have to involve guess work from time to time. A fact that can clearly be lifted with some experience or when you play the course for the second or third time.

The Feininger course is the younger brother on the property. It is more open plan, less trees or tree-lined fairways, but more water—at least on the front nine. It’s par-71 with 5’700 meters (CR 70.6, slope 126). Fairways are undulated and in general the course follows heathland characteristics to some degree, I’d say.

Hole 1 starts with not less than two water hazards, followed by no. 2, again with loads of water towards a double green. I haven’t seen that for quite a while but holes 2 and 12 share the same green complex. Very interesting.

The 3rd is a tricky par-5 around water, followed by a short par-3 and a beautiful dogleg par-4.

While the front 9 seem to be played around a lot of water, the back nine are more situated to the north-east towards a hilly part of the property. There is less water involved, actually only on 18, and the course characteristics appear to be a bit different.

The amenities

Some words on the hotel and the facilities. That part I’ve seen really made a very good impression. The staff was overly nice and friendly, the breakfast was excellent, the restaurants cater for every wish or need and so does the bar. We stayed there on the US Open weekend and you can imagine that a cosy bar, live golf and some drinks in good company is hard to beat really!

Golf is a seasonal game in central Europe, so it’s clear that resorts like this are trying to attract guests not only for golf, but also for wellness, fitness and culinary pleasures of life. In my opinion that’s totally accomplished here. Even when your spouse has no interest whatsoever to play golf, you can definitely spend a good long weekend or even longer here without being bored or sluggish. Things like the pools, the massages, the fitness area and all sorts of well-being facilities will create a good mood and atmosphere.

I will definitely be back soon. Matthias Grafe and Thomas Mönch, the golf manager, created a little golf paradise in the middle of the Thuringia countryside, just where Goethe used to enjoy horse riding and hiking. He’d appreciate golf as well if he could, I’m sure.

Disclaimer: Golficiency was offered a reduced media rate.

Top 5 at Nahetal

The title of this post sounds better than it actually was. Yes I was 5th in my last tournament, but with 14 gross points only. There you have it. All the others must have been rubbish, too.

Truth been told, I played some lousy round of golf. Really embarrassing.

The course was great, Golf Club Nahetal, an hour south-west of Frankfurt, Germany. The weather was superb, conditions have been excellent, all set for a fantastic round of golf. The warm-up on range was fine, then we were told there was a 30 minutes delay, so I chatted along with some people before I headed off.

I realized right from the start, the positive image of my current golf game, which I had from the last training session and the warm-up wasn’t really transitioning onto the course. I had some great iron shots, short game and putting was OK, but the long game, oh my gosh, just wasn’t there.

After many embarrassing tee shots, one of my playing partners said on the 17th hole something along the lines of “I can’t believe you still use that club to tee off!” He was right, I wasn’t quitting, I knew I can play metal woods and I proved it often, it’s just that it seems gone now. But I wasn’t giving up, I always took out the hybrid, the 5-wood or sometimes even the 3-wood to tee off. The driver I left at home in the garage, that thing isn’t working at all nowadays.

Anyway, the course is a beauty and I would recommend to play it if you are in the area. It’s tree-lined throughout, there’s water on quite some holes but fair to most golfers. As said, the conditions have been excellent and I actually have no idea what caused my fallout. Those balls in the water, those thinned shots, that lady, all those lost balls… a disgrace.

There is no excuse, it’s just me to blame—or my clubs, which I did.

Just kidding of course, but I will try out some new stuff with my old (long) irons, in order to keep the ball in play more often. Not saying this will bring down my handicap or will make me happier in the long run, but it will hopefully calm the waves a bit, and my nerves. That’s useful and frankly necessary since yesterday.

You can imagine I was quite astonished when I saw I ended up 5th place in the gross Stableford list. Nothing to be proud of unfortunately.