Chris Bertram takes a trip to Munich and, as well as enjoying the city's world-famous attractions, also relishes the varied courses it offers
Think about Munich and a lot of instantly appealing aspects will spring to mind… the legendary beerhalls (and specifically world-famous Oktoberfest), Bayern Munich, a vibrant yet historic city centre.
Golf probably isn’t one of them and indeed golf breaks in Germany as a whole aren’t really on the radar of most British golfers.
So I think the vast majority of you would be surprised, as I was, at the breadth and quality of the courses in the Bavarian capital.
I was helped in getting to the best courses by Lindsay Gomer, a British ex-pat living in the city. After relocating to Munich in 2009 and with a passion for golf, he started playing the courses in Bavaria. Impressed with what he saw, in 2013 set up ‘bavaria4golf’, as an exclusively inbound golf tour operator.
“Having experienced golf tours throughout Europe, the US and Asia, I saw no reason why Bavaria could not compete in offering the discerning golf tourist a world-class golf break option,” he says.
“With its inspiring courses, fantastic after-golf options and a first-world city as its hub, I think it is ready to lose its undiscovered destination tag.”
Golf in Munich: Eichenried
The home of the BMW International Open, this is probably Germany’s best-known course.
The first BMW was held here shortly after it opened in 1989 and it has hosted the European Tour over 20 times since, attracting the likes of Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, John Daly and Padraig Harrington.
“Everyone wants to play where the pros play, especially if it’s a key European Tour stop in the BMW International Open,” says bavaria4golf’s Gomer. “The friendly, open-policy from the club, as well as its proximity to the airport, makes Eichenried a feature on most tour itineraries.”
Architect Kurt Rossknecht created three nine-hole loops, all finishing at the clubhouse and all of a similar calibre.
Laid out on flat, easy-walking land, it is a long modern course as befits a Tour venue.
Now-mature trees, nearly 90 bunkers, water hazards in the form of streams and ponds, and drystone walls provide definition to a course that is in impeccable condition thanks to the work of long-standing course manager Andrew Kelly, who hails from Lancashire.
Two half-island greens are two of the highlights but in fact this is a course whose strength is its consistency.
Golf in Munich: Olching
Probably our favourite of a high-calibre bunch, Olching has a very British feel in every respect.
The clubhouse is without pretension and is clearly a golfers’ golf club. And the course is effortlessly charming and so obviously oozes pedigree… oh not wait, it was created in 1981.
Well, it might be under four decades old but it certainly doesn’t feel like that, and that is to the credit of original designer Dudok van Hee. It was updated in 2012/13 by Thomas Himmel but retains an old world appeal.
That is evident right from the start, the 1st playing along an undulating fairway to a cool green with almost four sections to it like a proper links green shape to it.
Ridges, pimples and folds in the greens are a common theme here, as are beautifully, classy par 3s with the targets sitting perfectly in the land like a cradle. You have lots of fun putting here as well as in the long game.
“A complete modernisation of the course six years ago has fully bedded-in and made Olching’s tight layout even more challenging! A fabulous track, not to be missed but not one for the faint-hearted,” says Gomer, who likes it so much he is a member here.
Routed between indigenous greens and water hazards, the variety of holes and the kind of interesting terrain modern courses would all kill for make this a consistently interesting examination.
Golf in Munich: Golf Valley
It is very easy to explain what to expect at Golf Valley; a modern course of a high quality that was built with a view to hosting the Ryder Cup.
So, think about the likes of Golf National. Or Celtic Manor. David Krause’s design also has echoes of The Centurion Club, The Shire and St Mellion.
You probably don’t therefore need to be told these 27 holes comprise lots of water, lots of sand, lots of mounding down the side of fairways and lots of good solid hitting – witness the 693-yard 6th in the B loop.
The island green on C7 is another stand-out while the par-4 A9 is just 320 yards but is a terrific risk-reward hole with water before the green.
It opened in 2009 and is a popular members’ club with an excellent clubhouse and terrace serving the three loops.
“Valley abounds with quality,” says Gomer. “Built to a Ryder Cup-hosting spec, its 27 holes test you every step of the way.
“It’s always available to guests with its flexible configuration, Valley is an ideal weekend golf break host. It’s Mediterranean-style restaurant terrace is also a great spot for those post-round refreshments.”
Golf in Munich: Gut Hausern
Bernhard Langer, Sergio Garcia and Seve Ballesteros are among those who have played among the trees, sand and water of expansive championship course Gut Hausern.
It stretches over 7,300 yards off the tips but there are five other tees to choose from so even beginners will find pleasure here.
It was designed by Peter Harradine, a Middle East expert but who also has European courses in his portfolio.
“With Gut Häusern, I was able to plan a golf landscape that will be a ‘pinnacle’ in my long career as a golf architect. A task one can only dream of.”
Gut Hausern, which hosted the Ladies German Open from 2008 to 2013, features two striking closing holes to the main nines.
“Deep in the Bavarian countryside, this modern design is well worth the trip,” says Gomer.
Not had enough to convince you? Our golf in Munich guide continues on the next page…