Sustainable principles drive Black Forest project

  • Oeschberghof

    Staedler’s project at Oeschberghof includes a new nine for the East course

  • Oeschberghof

    The resort now has five loops of nine that all return to the clubhouse

  • Oeschberghof

    The project was underpinned by six pillars of sustainability

  • Oeschberghof

    The seventeenth on the East course plays over a lake

  • Oeschberghof

    The new nine-hole West course offers birdie opportunities

  • Oeschberghof

    The Old course (fourteenth hole pictured) has also been renovated

Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

Golf Resort Oeschberghof, on the outskirts of Donaueschingen in Germany’s Black Forest, has reopened following a massive project to overhaul its existing 27 holes and add 18 new holes, overseen by golf course architect Christoph Staedler of Staedler Golf Courses.

With the new holes, Oeschberghof becomes one of Germany’s biggest golf complexes, and the only facility in the country that has five loops of nine holes that all return to the clubhouse.

Staedler employed a sustainability-first approach to the design process. “Sustainability is really in my heart,” he said. “There has been comprehensive implementation of features from all six pillars of the sustainability matrix: nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution prevention, and community.” Established in 1974 by the co-founder of supermarket chain Aldi, Karl Albrecht, the development originally comprised a private villa, hotel, and 18-hole golf course designed by Karl Grohs. Nine holes were added later.

The resort’s popularity – particularly driven by visitors from close neighbours Switzerland, for whom it represents good value for money, thanks to currency differences – led to the decision in 2014 to increase the capacity of the hotel from 75 to 130 rooms and expand the golf by another 18 holes. Staedler, assisted by his design partner Dirk Decker, created a masterplan and won the contract to extend the third nine to an 18-hole East course, add a new nine-hole West course, renovate the existing 18-hole Old course and upgrade the practice range and short game facilities.

The resulting courses have differing characteristics. The East is open, with long vistas of the Black Forest backdrop, and is bisected by the Pfohrbach stream with a rich biotope buffer that runs to a lake that dominates the back-to-back par three sixteenth and seventeenth hole.

The renovated Old course, the most challenging at the complex, is more parkland in style, flanked by mature trees and on flatter terrain that is easy to walk.

The new nine-hole West course is a fun, par-34 mix of open and parkland holes, with many opportunities and some surprising design features. For example, the middle of the sixth fairway features two circular prehistorical burial mounds which were left untouched during course construction.

Among the highlights of the sustainable approach to design, all existing valuable landscape structures, the biotopes along the Pfohrbach and all existing hedges, trees and bushes, were preserved and integrated into the design.

During construction, all earth movements were carried out using GPS-controlled bulldozers and excavators, “almost to the centimetre according to the height plans,” said Staedler. “Almost no earth had to be moved twice to achieve the intended modelling.

“Probably the most remarkable achievement in terms of sustainability is that so much rainwater is collected through a sophisticated system of drainage, connecting pipes and storage ponds that the use of groundwater, as is the case on most golf courses, can be completely relinquished.”

Read more: PDF case study by Christoph Stadler on the sustainable design approach at Golf Resort Oeschbergof

Asked what he considers to be the highlights of the design, Staedler said: “I wouldn’t pick out signature holes. The highlight is the beautiful landscape, which is aesthetically very pleasing.” Referencing playability, he said: “The courses should be fair and very playable, primarily offering joy and fun instead of toughness and resistance to scoring. Our aim is to entice its guests to come back over and over again.”

The reopening took place in June, and was a “great success,” according to Staedler. “Resort guests and members are really very happy about it.”