Golfing in Germany: An Overview and the Best Golf Courses

Germany has more than 750 golf courses and many are part of various pro golf tours, e.g., the “European Tour” (highest level), the “Challenge Tour” (second level), and the “Pro Golf Tour” (third level).

German clubs have produced some top professional golfers, e.g., Martin Kaymer, currently on the PGA tour and was ranked #1 at one time, and certainly Bernhard Langer, who was a great PGA Tour player when he was younger. 

Langer is clearly one of the top Champions Tour players and a justifiably favorite son of many German golfers.

Germany is truly a golfing nation, with over 700 golf clubs and over 600,000 people playing golf.

Golf’s Magic: The Struggle

Many casual onlookers scratch their heads in bewilderment when they see colorfully dressed golfers in electric carts or walking 6,000 meters, on average, over a 60-hectare patch of land linking 18 holes and trying to hit a small white ball (a 42.7mm-diameter dimpled golf ball) into a large blue-green ball (the 12,742km-diameter Earth) in as few strokes as possible.

One or more of the three elements that has driven mankind since the dawn of time drives every dedicated golfer, i.e., the struggle of man against man, the struggle of man against nature, and the struggle of man against himself.

Each of those internal contests plays a role in every golfer’s urge to return to the links. It should be no wonder that German golf courses need to be part of every good golfer’s experience.

There is, of course, an umbrella of experiences and aspects that shelter every golfer’s internal struggles. Regular rounds of golf (1) provide practice; (2) surround one with well-maintained, beautiful nature; (3) furnish good company with fellow golfers; and (4) are ideal ways to get healthy exercise.

When one adds the experience that is Germany to that umbrella of experiences and aspects, the endeavor expands geometrically, for it brings out the common ground of all golfers: it sharpens competitive instincts to play with and against unknown quantities, it tests skills to deal with a natural environment that is possibly quite different from one’s usual experience, and it enables each golfer to summon inner strengths to excel.

It’s more than the game, it’s the playing of the game.

Must See German Golf Courses

Here are some of the German courses that will meet the needs of any golfer, from a par-three duffer to a scratch golfer, whose goal it is to improve all aspects of his/her game.

Golfing in Germany

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Hamburger Golf-Club e.V. Falkenstein 

Hamburger Golf-Club e.V. Falkenstein. This par 71, 5,763-meter/5092-meter (men’s/women’s), 18-hole heath-land course was designed by Henry Colt and it will soon celebrate its 110th birthday. Greens fees are €80 on weekdays. The address is In de Bargen 59, D-22587 Hamburg, Germany; telephone 49 40 812177.

Reviews praise its beauty, particularly in the fall when the heather is in bloom, course playability, its rolling landscape, and its technical challenges.

The closest commercial airport is Hamburg. Nearby hotels include Golf Hotel Haus Rissen Gästehaus and Golf hotel Hotel Süllberg Karlheinz Hauser. 

Golf & Country Club Hohwachter Bucht 

Golf & Country Club Hohwachter Bucht. This is a par 72, 5,946-meter/5,217-meter (men’s/women’s), 18-hole course. There is also an adjacent 9-hole course. Greens fees are €44 on weekdays and €54 on weekends. The address is Eichenalle, D-24321 Hohwacht/Ostsee, Germany; telephone 49 4381 9690.

Reviews comment positively on the well-maintained, diversified course, the wide fairways, delightful playability, excellent lake view, excellent service, and fast greens. All-in-all, a “classy operation.”

The closest commercial airport is Lübeck Airport. Nearby hotels include Golf hotel Apartments Golden Tüffel and Golf hotel Das Hotel Ostseeblick. 

Golfclub Bodensee Weißensberg e.V.

Golfclub Bodensee Weißensberg e.V. This is a par 71, 5,848-meter/5,185-meter (men’s/women’s), 18-hole heath-land course. Greens fees are €65 on weekdays and €80 on weekends. The address is Lampertsweiler 51, D-88138 Weißensberg, Germany; telephone 49 8389 89190.

Reviewers describe the course as fastidious, well-maintained, and prestigious, and the accommodations are top-notch with a superb restaurant. “One of the most beautiful spots in Germany!”

The closest commercial airport is St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport, just across the border in Switzerland. Nearby hotels include Golf hotel Humboldt-Haus and Golf hotel Haus Sonne.

Golf Club Lauterhofen e.V.

Golf Club Lauterhofen e.V. This is a par 72, 5,960-meter/5,291-meter (men’s/women’s), 18-hole course. Greens fees are €50 on weekdays and €60 on weekends. The address is Ruppertslohe 18, D-92283 Lauterhofen, Germany; telephone 49 9186 1574.

Reviewers include fast greens, with many interesting fairways; a truly praiseworthy course; a challenging varied course; breathtaking architecture.

The closest commercial airport is Nuremberg Airport. Nearby hotels include Golf hotel Hotel-Gasthof Anni and Golf hotel Gasthof-Pension Brauner Hirsch in Alfeld – Mittelfranken.

Golf Club St. Leon-Rot

Golf Club St. Leon-Rot. This is a par 72, 6,047-meter/5,329-meter (men’s/women’s), Hannes Schreiner-designed 18-hole parkland course.

Greens fees are €85 on weekdays and €120 on weekends. There is a second 18-hole course and a 9-hole course adjacent to the main course described above. The address is Opelstraße 30, D-68789 St. Leon-Rot, Germany; telephone 49 6227 86080.

Reviewers mention that it is a magnificent course; with provocative fairways and greens; superb amenities; one of Germany’s “top 5” courses; unparalleled quality.

The closest commercial airport is Baden Airpark. Nearby hotels include Golf Hotel Fairway Hotel and Golf hotel Flairhotel & Restaurant Erck. 

Golfclub Rickenbach e.V.

Golfclub Rickenbach e.V. This is a par 70, 5,290-meter/4,680-meter (men’s/women’s), 18-hole course. Greens fees are €80 on weekdays and €95 on weekends. The address is Hennematt 20, D-79736 Rickenbach, Germany; telephone 49 7765 777.

Reviewers note the course’s splendid challenges and daunting, hilly landscape; well-maintained; ideal golf holiday venue; wonderful amenities.

The closest commercial airport is Zurich Airport, just across the Swiss border. Nearby hotels include Golf hotel Schwarzwald and Golf hotel Pension Sonne. 

An example of a golfer’s devotion to the sport

Many readers might not appreciate how devoted to the sport some players are. Here is a true story; judge for yourself.

On a crisp Saturday morning in mid-September, four golfers who regularly played together made the turn from the ninth hole to the tenth tee on the outer edge of the course.

A nearby road led to the local cemetery. Just as the men approached the tenth tee, a funeral cortege slowly made its way to the cemetery. One of the men stopped in his tracks, pulled off his golfing cap, bowed his head, and stood respectfully in reverent silence as the cortege passed.

Afterward, when the man donned his cap and rejoined the group, one of his colleagues turned to him. “I’ve never been so impressed by anything you’ve ever done. You’re the most competitive golfer I know, yet you stopped to show your respect as that funeral cortege passed. That was extraordinary and quite moving.”

“It’s the least I could do,” said the man. “We would have been married 34 years in December.”

The “Platzreife” License: A Gateway to the Golf Course

To play golf in Germany, aspiring golfers must obtain a license called “Platzreife.” This requirement, established over 40 years ago, sets Germany apart from its European counterparts. Unlike other countries in Europe that emphasize a specific handicap, Germany demands that players complete an 18-hole course with a maximum of 108 strokes to qualify for the license.

Acquiring the coveted “Platzreife” is not for the faint of heart. Golfers are required to undergo a comprehensive five-day course, which includes several hours of training each day. This training regimen comes with a price tag of at least $300, which most golfers find to be too high.

The “Platzreife” process consists of two challenging parts: a written test in German and a hands-on test. The hands-on test assesses a player’s practical skills on the golf course, covering driving, putting, and chipping skills.

Additionally, golfers must complete 18 holes with a maximum of 108 strokes, accompanied by a professional. The rule is set by the German Golf association and all golf courses are members.

Getting license requires a considerable sum to pay when you add up the training fees, equipment, and hotel costs. Critics claim that the strict system, with its associated costs and green fee, serves as a method to preserve golf for the elite, rather than nurturing widespread interest and participation.

German golfing associations, however, say such a license is necessary to prevent unskilled players from holding up the games of others.

Navigating the System: Challenges and Alternatives

Foreign visitors eager to golf in Germany face additional hurdles. German courses often require a handicap card from the player’s home club, and some golfers have found themselves turned away if they don’t bring proof of their skill level.

In response to the strict “Platzreife” system that no other country in Europe requires, some Germans and foreign golfers opt for golf holidays in neighboring countries like Italy, Austria, or Switzerland.

These destinations often have more lenient testing procedures, with training courses allowing amateur golfers to obtain their “Platzreife” without the same level of rigor required in Germany. This practice, however, is something that German golf associations abhor.

FAQs: Playing Golf in Germany

In this section, I provide answers to questions that people ask about being able to play golf in Germany.

Can I play golf in Germany as a tourist?

Yes, you can play golf in Germany as a tourist. Most golf clubs welcome tourists but you need a license called a “Platzreife.”

Can you play golf in Berlin?

Yes, you can play golf in Berlin. The city and its surrounding areas offer several courses that cater to different skill levels. Like in other parts of Germany, it’s a good idea to check the specific club’s rules and booking requirements.

Summing Up: Golfing in Germany

Golfing is a blend of tradition, challenges, and scenic courses. The stringent “Platzreife” system in Germany, while controversial, reflects a commitment to maintaining golf’s integrity.

As golfers tee off against nature, fellow players, and their own abilities, Germany stands as a golfing nation with a distinctive allure for those seeking a challenging and rewarding golfing journey.

If you’d like more insights into German culture, check out SmarterGerman!