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Golf in Germany

 

Bad Kissingen in Bavaria
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Golf course development in Germany increased by around 70 percent during the 1990s.  There are now over 600 courses and around half a million players. Bavaria has the greatest proliferation of golfing facilities and is possibly the golf capital of Germany, particularly for tourists drawn by the beautiful countryside and quaint mountain villages.


There is a strict handicap system for domestic players and tee times have to be booked in advance. Even for tourists, a handicap card from a home club is usually a requirement. Although many clubs are private, advance arrangements can often be made for visitors and there are many resorts with golfing facilities attached to hotels.


The first golf course to be built in Germany was at Wannsee in 1895. Since then the spa towns of Bavaria and Brandenburg have added golf to their luxurious vacation offerings. For example, Beuerberg in the Bavarian Alps has a par 74, 18-hole course, built on a 300-acre site in the shadow of the mountains.


One of the best German courses is at Sporting Club Berlin which encompasses 63 holes. The most famous 18 of these were designed by Nick Faldo. It is a difficult course with handicap restrictions in place - 24 for women and 28 for men. Bordering Lake Scharmutzel in Bad Saarow, the 11th has been dubbed the most beautiful par 3 in Germany.


In the Alsace region, Baden-Baden added golf to its spa facilities back in 1901. Now golfers can choose between eight courses in the area, along the Rhine, near the Black Forest, or among the foothills of the Kraichgau.


Another early golf club was established near Bremen in 1905. Club zur Vahr has since expanded to include a 9 hole course in Bremen and 18 hole course 20 minutes away in Garlstedt. Now named Garlstedter Heide, it was renovated in 2004 and includes facilities for hockey, tennis, skeet-shooting and golf.


Famous German clubs include Hamburger Falkenstein - which was originally the Hamburg Golf Club - where the German Open was first played in 1911 at its Flottbek location. Since then the course has been rebuilt at nearby Falkenstein and re-named. Gut Larchenhof Golf Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus, has been the home of the German Masters since 1998. Frankfurter Golf Course, which re-opened in 2007 with renovated greens, was a former favorite venue for the German Open.