Operating some of the finest courses on the island: Arabella Golf Mallorca

imageFor those who don’t know Arabella Golf Mallorca so far, here is a quick reference.

The Arabella brand was founded by the German billionaire family Schörghuber. The empire was built on construction and beer—two things which not only go well together but apparently are very lucrative, if you do it right. The Bavarian Paulaner beer might be something you are aware of in that sense (and taste).

But they also ventured into hotels and golf, two things that also fit quite nicely. Under the Arabella brand there are hotel resorts and golf courses across Europe; predominantly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain.

For Mallorca in particular, there is a subsidiary bearing the name of the famous island in the brand itself: Arabella Golf Mallorca. They operate several courses in the Palma region and are respected as some of the best on Mallorca, if not Spain altogether.

Continue reading Operating some of the finest courses on the island: Arabella Golf Mallorca

Mallorca Press Cup 2019

The year 2019 ended well for me. After I basically stowed away all my clubs for the winter break – yes, you heard right, I don’t play in snow – just then I received the invitation to take part in the 2019 Mallorca Press Cup.

The cup itself is an annual gathering of European golf and golf travel writers of all sorts of media, to group them together in beautiful Mallorca and have them experience the great golf and great amenities available.

Playing hole 13 at Son Vida Golf, Palma de Mallorca

No question, I was all in for it, packed my stuff and off I went on a cold dark December morning to be greeted two hours later by Mediterranean sunshine, cosy temperatures, and last but not least by the chauffeur and his black S-Class Mercedes who was about to take me to my hotel.

Continue reading Mallorca Press Cup 2019

When Mauritius is on your mind

It’s been some years ago that I went to Mauritius for our honeymoon. The island, the hotels, the golf, the whole trip turned out to be quite exceptional—and not just because it was such a special occasion.

Mauritius is Africa’s second largest economy and indeed rich in beautiful beaches and golf courses. Being on the island, I was fortunate enough to play the “The Links” and “The Legend” courses at Belle Mare Plage, and also the Le Touessrok as it was known back then, today referred as the Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club. And I enjoyed them all.

Yes it was my honeymoon and I may have been in an emotional high anyway, but by all means, the setting, the quality and the general attractiveness of the courses is superb.

I left the country/island after two weeks, knowing I will be back some day. First because one of the hotels we stayed in was absolutely the best you could ask for, and second because there are still some golf treasures to be lifted.

For my second trip I have two courses definitely on my list:

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Tee boxes for all abilities | © heritagegolfclub.mu

Both courses look just fantastic on pictures. Both are situated on the south coast of Mauritius and Anahita is actually placed adjacent to the Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club; not on an island but on a beautiful peninsula, formerly belonging to the Four Seasons hotel group.

The Anahita is a fully fledged Ernie Els design 18-hole course, while the Heritage is a Peter Matkovich design 18-hole plus 9-hole pitch and putt. They are not far from each other, so just perfect to fit in one trip—as getting from A to B in Mauritius is not as easy (and quick) as it sounds.

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Playing with the elements | © heritagegolfclub.mu

I just can’t wait to plan my next trip to Mauritius to check out the courses, maybe the related hotels and to tell you guys everything about it afterwards.

For now, it’s all just in my mind—unfortunately.

Longing for Adare Manor

Truth be told, I never had the chance to play golf in Ireland. I’ve been there couple of times, mostly for business, but never was able to squeeze in some golf. I know… shame on me.

When I think about golf in Ireland I’m dreaming about lush green fairways, typical British hospitality and a great experience eventually. What I do however picture (for some reason) are links courses such as the typical suspects Old Head, Tralee, Lahinch, Waterville, Doonbeg, Ballybunion, just to name a few.

Obviously with that I don’t do justice to all the great courses which are indeed inland courses. The famous K Club comes to mind, and not to forget, Adare Manor.

While Adare might have been a tad more under the radar than others, this is absolutely about to change very soon, if not already happened recently. Adare Manor was officially chosen to stage the 2026 Ryder Cup! And what an event to start with.

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The majestic 18th at Adare Manor | © adaremanor.com
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Strategic No. 7 at Adare Manor | © adaremanor.com

The venue, golf course and hotel complex, was opulently renovated in 2017. It’s an original Robert Trent Jones Snr. design and was reconstructed and renovated by Tom Fazio and is since then equipped with all the modern aspects and technology golf has to offer. While the setting by the 18th century manor house and the park-style routing suggests something else, the course boasts state-of-the-art technology, for example SubAir systems, the first ever course in Irland to use that.

Fazio commented: “Most golfers will never have seen anything like this course. It looks and plays like no other course in Ireland. This will be a stand out course in Europe and, with the Adare Manor house and estate as its setting, will be one of the finest stay and play venues ever created.”

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Stunning views over the 11th | © adaremanor.com
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Picturesque approach over water at the 18th towards the manor house | © adaremanor.com

Looking at the pictures taken from the Adare website, don’t tell me you’re not falling in love with this place. I am most definitely. I seriously can’t wait to play there and review everything one day, hopefully before the Ryder Cup is foreshadowed in a couple of years.

So I’m waiting for that invitation—just saying! :)

For more information, go check out Adare Manor’s website.

2019 is not over yet

Just when you slowly but surely come to year’s end and golf is not in focus anymore (at least here where temperatures now hit 0°C) there’s a treat that presents itself out of the blue and promises to really reboot 2019 again.

And why shouldn’t it! Life is too short to sit around and wait for spring time for your next round of golf.

There’s something around the corner I’m really looking forward to and you need to remain curious to see what it is soon.

Just this as a hint:

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More to come. You bet I’ll keep you posted.

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.

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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.

Sweden golf, Ekerum Resort Öland

During the preparation for our holidays in Sweden I researched so much on golf courses and was literally stunned by the sheer amount of top notch courses they have.

I wanted to play them all. As that’s not really possible when you travel with your family I narrowed it down to a bit more than a handful. Still a lot of golf. And then our itinerary required some severe adjustments so that we cut most of our journey through south Sweden and ended up in Stockholm and Öland.

No hard feelings, but I managed to play one round and one round only on Öland.

I played the Långe Jan course at the Ekerum Resort just outside of Borgholm, Öland. The resort features two courses, one named by the lighthouse in the very south of the island, the other named by the lighthouse in the very north. Both of them are supposed to be very nice, the Långe Erik being more kind of a “normal” course, and Långe Jan featuring a modern re-fit with wasteland areas and some tweaks you don’t find at every other course.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course, even with my round taking donkeys with some slow people all over the place. I got in traffic, joined a couple’s group which happened to be members and they told me they never experienced such traffic on the course yet. Well, bad luck for me.

Sweden has great courses to offer, and a big shoutout to the Exilgolfer and Sweden Golf, I got some great recommendations which courses to play. I will take my notes out again next time Sweden is back on my list. I can’t wait to play Bro Hof, Barsebäck, PGA of Sweden, Hills, Sand, Falsterbo, and so many more.

For this time it was just Ekerum. Very good course though. Would definitely recommend you play if you are on the island.

More information: Ekerum Resort Golf