Hendrik Hilgert and Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design have created a reversible course for Golfanlage Patting Hochriesblick in Riedering, Germany.
It is the design firm’s second reversible course, following the May opening of The Links Valley in the Netherlands.
Golfanlage Patting Hochriesblick was established in the early 1990s with a driving range, and six short holes followed a few years later. Three further holes were added in 2000, resulting in a par-32 nine-hole course. In 2015, the opportunity arose for the club’s owner, Marie Bauhuber, to double the land available for golf.
Bauhuber, her husband Georg and head greenkeeper Sepp Schwaiger attended a seminar held by Infinite Variety Golf Design in spring 2016. Hilgert said: “Frank and I presented the concept of a reversible golf course, and Marie and the others immediately loved the concept.
“A nine-hole reversible only requires the plot size, investment and greenkeeping budget of a conventional nine-hole course, but it offers double the variety. Second, at the time no reversible golf course existed across Europe and Marie immediately understood that the reversible concept would be an attractive way to market the course and differentiate it from the competition.”
As a result, Hilgert and Pont were hired to replace the club’s existing nine holes with a nine-hole reversible course, plus an additional nine-hole par three course.
“Marie was keen to also offer a shorter course to her members and her guests as she is aware that time constraints are the major reason why people do not take up golf or lose interest,” said Hilgert. “Hence, she was very keen to offer two nine-hole courses, with one offering quicker play given the shorter length and the other being a full-length course for those players that want to devote the required time.”
Minimal earthwork was required from the design. On both nines, the architects designed classic strategic greens with gentle undulations, asymmetrical green defence and large green surrounds. The greens offer many pin positions to challenge all standards of golfers.
“The key challenge in the design phase clearly was the reversible concept,” said Hilgert. “If you want a reversible course to become a success it is obviously important that not just one loop is excellent but both loops have to be excellent and have to offer similar quality, otherwise members will quickly become critical of at least one of the loops.
“As a result, Frank and I spent a lot of time fine-tuning the general routing, making sure that we achieve a good balance and variety in terms of hole lengths and hole types. And when we went into the detailed design process the key focus was to build greens that are suitable for the two different angles from which they will be approached.
“Designing a reversible course thus creates significantly more design challenges but we loved that challenge and we are very happy with the result. I don’t think we had to make major compromises to make the reversible concept work at Patting. Clearly, you cannot build a reversible course on any site. If the topography is too extreme it may become impossible to build two loops that are even close to the quality of an optimised conventional layout on the same site. But at Patting, we were fortunate that the site was quite suitable for a reversible course.
“We suspect that hole six of the Wendelstein loop will be the most talked-about hole,” said Hilgert. “It is a 213-yard par three from the men’s tees, slightly downhill, with a 2,000 square-metre pond in the carry, to a green that is crowned and well defended by a bunker front-left. The hole is still in grow-in and will become a very photogenic hole, given the Alps in the background.
Construction of the course was challenging due to extremely wet weather from April to September 2017. “As we were not building in sand but in fairly loamy conditions, we had a lot of standstill during construction,” said Hilgert. “Also, Marie was keen to ensure continued play on the old course for as long as possible. As a result, we ended up only building 13 holes in 2017, with the remaining five holes having been built in 2018.”
Members were able to play all nine old holes until December 2017. From January 2018 to April six old holes were still in operation and between May and July the new executive course was open to members. From August 2018 to spring 2019, the executive course plus four reversible holes will be open, and all 18 new holes will be open for play by spring 2019.
“Marie is a young mother of three who inherited the course from her father around 10 years ago,” said Hilgert. “Her father had the idea to convert his farmland into a golf course although he did not play golf. However, he thought this was a good idea, so he pursued it. Marie’s father passed away way too early, so Marie became owner of the golf course at a very young age, she was around 20 at the time. Her father did not use a golf architect, so the layout, the design and the construction were fairly basic.
“However, the golf course did well for two reasons: first, the site is wonderful: it is a hilltop that is surrounded by forest, with beautiful views to the Alps. Second, the whole atmosphere is very down-to-earth and friendly. While there are still many golf courses in Germany that do not feel too friendly towards outsiders or new members, Patting has a very welcoming and cosy atmosphere, also because Marie is very approachable and quite present every day on the golf course.
“Member feedback on the executive course is excellent so far. Players love the greens which are pure bent greens and already offer excellent putting conditions. Players also appreciate that the course is no pushover despite the short length. Some of the par three greens are very well defended and quite hard to hit, nevertheless there are no forced carries or other obstacles that would make play unduly difficult for weaker players. The look of the course is bit linksy: while the course is surrounded with forest, there are few trees inside the golf course which provides great views across the course and towards the Alps.”