Städler delivers links experience at Föhr


Städler delivers links experience at Föhr
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Golf Club Föhr, located on the German island of the same name, is being extended to 27 holes by design firm Städler Golf Courses.

The island has a long golfing tradition: Bernhard von Limburger designed its original nine holes in 1927. This course was later abandoned, and in 1970 a new nine hole course, designed by Frank Pennink, was opened for play on a new site and in 1990, was extended to 18 holes by Donald Harradine.

Städler's design proposal for the extension included the re-routing of several holes creating three loops of nines.

The combination of Pennink's nine with new holes will form the main course.

Städler project architect Christian Althaus said: "In contrast to the existing parkland course, the purpose of the new design was to create a links style look. The sandy soil on the whole site strongly favoured this idea.

"Golfers should feel that they are on an island, where windy conditions have an impact on play. Additionally we laid a strong emphasis on the shaping of the extension site to give the course a strong character right from the start, and to separate holes from one another. At the same time we tried to combine this with the charm of a heathland course in the transition zones to the old course."

Earthworks began in May 2008. Irish contractor European Golf Services was hired to build the course. Althaus said: "We avoided shaping holes through canyons with symmetric mounding.

"Instead we tried to shape landforms such as ravines, diagonal tiers or low-lying waste areas that cross several parallel fairways, creating a diversified landscape with strategic elements."

According to Althaus the greens are gently contoured but have run-offs feeding balls away from the green.

Great emphasis was laid on the irrigation design of the green complexes to ensure firm, springy turf. Giles Wardle from Irriplan, who designed the system, specified a horseshoe pattern in the green surrounds with small sprinklers positioned at the edge of the rough throwing inwards to the edge of the green and green sprinklers set to half circle only, throwing onto the green surface.

Althaus cites the short par four third as among his favourite holes. The fairway is wide in the landing area but split by a diagonal ridge, creating two levels with a bunker in the middle of the fairway. The low-lying left side offers a wider landing area, but a partially blind second from a tough angle since the green is bunkered on the left and slopes from front left to back right. A more aggressive play is a long faded drive over the bunker to the upper plateau leaving a short pitch to an open green. Yet the margin of error is much tighter with bordering waste areas and heather. The course will open in summer 2009.

This article first appeared in issue 15 of Golf Course Architecture, published in January 2009.