Adamstal is one of the world's most beautiful golf courses and it's certainly one of Austria's very best. The Alpine mountain air is clean and crisp and the wooded, undulating valley setting is simply breathtaking.
Former Austrian rally driver Franz Wittmann brought Adamstal Golf Club to life in 1995 when a 9-hole course was laid out in the heart of Lower Austria. Canadian born Jeff Howes was commissioned to extend the course to 18 holes in 1998 – the same year he was asked to stiffen up Fota Island ahead of its first Irish Open. Howes has accumulated more than 25 years experience, working closely with the world's top architects, including Jack Nicklaus. The Adamstal layout follows the natural lie of the land and this amazing mountain course is one of his greatest achievements.
All the holes at Adamstal are named and each paints its own enchanting picture. Maintaining concentration in these surroundings is key to scoring well.
Panoramic views of the Unterberg summit are on offer at the 5th, where rock formations (discovered during construction of the fairway), are a prominent feature on this medium-length par four.
After refreshment at the excellent halfway house, the short par four 10th is the highest point on the course (named Unterbergrast or lower mountain) and from here you can enjoy (on a clear day) the drama of the 4,400-foot peak.
The 11th "Hausbergkante" (taken from the Streif in Kitzbühel) is also set at altitude and the view is spectacular. From the elevated tee, you can't help but reach for your driver on this 345-metre par four. The ground falls away in an alarming manner. Reaching the green in two is no problem, but the green also slopes from front to back, so staying on the putting surface is easier said than done.
The Championship course also features a settle-the-bet par three 19th hole which is located in a pretty valley where there's a mountain spring that's provided Adamstal with drinking water for more than a century.
The beautiful, restored late 19th century clubhouse offers excellent guest accommodation for golfers wishing to stay and absorb the delights of Adamstal beyond a single round of golf. Additionally there's also a 9-hole course called Wallerbach and it's well worth playing.
Some of the Wallerbach holes formed part of the original 18-hole Adamstal course, including the short par four 3rd "Bärenschlucht" or "Bear Ravine" in English. The ideal tee shot is down the right side of the fairway but the fairway slopes from right to left making positional play extremely difficult. Just before Adamstal opened for play back in 1998, a bear took a liking to the soft, newly-laid green and, to the greenkeeper's horror, left its paw prints all over the green – hence the hole's charming name.
You will struggle to find a more impressive golf course in the world!
As you arrive at the lovely clubhouse nestled in a valley it feels impossible that a proper golf course (let alone 28 holes!) could be built on such mountainous terrain. But with each hole you play, as you make your way up the mountain, the course gets more impressive and the views more breathtaking! Photos can never do the course justice as the sense of depth is lost in a 2d world.
My personal favorites are the double dogleg par 5 7th, the uphill par 5 15th and the beautiful and relatively short par 4 17th. The "bonus" par 3 19th hole is a real gem as it plays down hill with a spectacular view and it a pity that it doesnt feature in the actual 18.
For any golfers visiting Vienna, take another day to ensure you play this wonderful course. I promise you’ll thank me!
If you are planning to play golf in Austria, and especially if you are anywhere around Vienna, Adamstal is a must and will most probably be the highlight of your experience. It is definitely sitting at the very top tier of Austrian golf.
You will drive along a winding road into a narrow valley, almost a gorge between two sharp mountain ridges, and your GPS will insist that there is a golf course 3 kms ahead. How could one fit a golf course in such a location? In fact, just after I played the course I had the opportunity to meet Jeff Howes, the architect of the development of Adamstal. He took the initial track created by its president, Franz Wittmann (of European rally racing fame in the 1970’s), created 10 holes and redesigned the existing ones to produce a 19-hole wonder. He told me that he thought the exact same thing when he first drove there to meet with Mr. Wittmann: how will an 18-hole golf course fit here?
And then, you step on the first tee of the 18-hole course, just above the small driving range, and the magic is about to begin.
Adamstal is a mountain course, there is no doubt about that. The holes were carved out of the mostly abrupt hills towering above the clubhouse, which sits at the bottom of the narrow valley next to the small river. Although Franz Wittmann told me that two-thirds of the club’s 950 members prefer to walk the length of this course, I would recommend to hire a buggy, at least the first time, so you don’t spend too much energy climbing transition paths, and keep enthusiasm to enjoy the spectacular landscapes on offer from virtually everywhere you ball will land during your round… provided you land on fairways and greens of course, because due to the relief there are a lot of places out there where even looking for a ball is impossible, let alone find it.
Golf-wise, Adamstal is a very good test of golf. After the first hole, which one could rate as a warmer hole, things get quickly serious with the first really uphill 2nd, a short but narrow par-four where every meter on your drive will count to have a better chance of reaching the green at the top with a short enough iron so the ball stays there. A breather with the par-five 3rd, and uphill you go again with the par-four 4th where precision with the drive is needed to go for the green next. Then, the par-four 5th offers a different challenge: it is a dogleg right, and some 125 meters from the back tees there is a rocky formation on the right side (the abrupt mountain side) that hides the exact location and setting of the dogleg. Strategy and your par-saver book are essential here, because if you try and fly these rocks, you will probably end up in the next rocky outgrowth that defends the dogleg another 100 meters further… Better aim at the bunker straight ahead just outside the turn!
The par-three 6th hole offers a moment of relaxation and pure visual delight. It is a short, slightly downhill hole, at 115 meters from the tips, with a green tucked behind a small lake, but it is the signature hole of the course because of the magnificent view behind and around the green, over the valley and on to the next mountains. Now, you caught your breath, time to get ready for the “Green Monster” 7th. This par-five spans three hills and two glens with ravines on the left, it is a triple dogleg with a green that is really impossible (save for long, straight hitting pros I would think) to reach in two strokes. Another spectacular landscape awaits you on the green, and again on the fairway of the par-four 9th.
Need to recharge? A gem of a halfway house is waiting for you, complete with most helpful staff, a small terrace with a great view, and both liquid and solid regenerants. Then on to new adventures, and new wonders in terms of experience. I probably could go on describing each hole and the pleasure I took all along. My favorite hole in the back nine was probably the 13th, a straight enough par-four with elevated tees, with a trick: a 220-meter carry is needed from the back tees to clear the small ravine created by the brook crossing the fairway and feeding the pond next to the green, at the end of this narrow little valley. Of course you can decide to lay up before the ravine, but then you will have a 180-meter second shot to the not-so-wide green…
Some other unique features of this course? There is a 180 elevation change between the highest point on the course (on the 5th hole) and the lowest (the clubhouse), yet there are only three holes that are truly uphill: the 2nd, the 4th, and the 15th. The course looks and feel unbelievably natural, yet Jeff Howes caused 500,000 cubic meters of soil and rock to be moved or blasted to create only 10 holes when he added to the existing design. And, of course, one should not forget that when you leave the 18th green, you find a sign pointing to the 19th hole, and it is not the clubhouse, but an extra par-three hole, which is duly documented in the stroke book!
Adamstal is a rare gift. The magisterial location is matched by a sublime course. Even the non golfers will get this one. Hell, they might even want to start playing. The setting is unbelievable.
After a morning soaking up the extravagant opulence and bottomless excess of the imperial Vienna left to us by the kaisers, we climbed one hour west into the eastern edge of the Alps and found a an exquisite course befitting the jaw dropping finery of Vienna we marvel at today.
So, my first round in Austria then:
Whomever thought of building a golf course here? And indeed one of this quality, they should have a plinth all of their own outside the imperial palace . It is an experience which will cut even the most experienced golfer to the bone. Take three things with you though: A buggy, A decent camera and plenty of balls. You will need them all in equal measure. Routed improbably and spectacularly with terrific skill amongst the low mountains this course is adrenaline pumping at every turn. Care is required when attacking the few blind shots and a course plan is money well spent, to help with the sometimes stark changes in elevation that are such a potent and alluring feature of this excellent course. Each hole seems isolated from all of the others, they are inviting to play, occasionally Intimidating; like standing at the top of a black run before you have your legs, but you settle in. The course itself makes a proper journey but please, don't fall off. Let it go. Drop another.
Somehow though the playing surfaces are never anything but just right for the shot you need to play. So it works. Better than that. It's glorious.
The course is by and large welcoming for a first time player, if you take care. There were more than a few times I climbed onto the tee and said "wow". There are slopes but it never feels absurd. The par 3's are varied, pretty and exquisitely enjoyable. The par fours make use of the topography like nowhere else can to deliver contrasting thrills that are properly breathtaking. Kipling wrote a very good poem for those. "If...triumph.....disaster." You get the picture.
The par 5s I adored. Given the setting, they slithered across the mountain scape like an anaconda basking in the sun. Plot your way down these with diligence. Altitude might flatter your length but reaching here is folly.
This course is beautifully challenging and sensually intoxicating. Adamstal is like Mozart. You, perhaps, don't want it every day but when the time is right it can touch you like nothing else ever will.
Go. Spend the day here if you can. They also have a dormi house. It is in exceptional condition and I would think in Autumn it would be very pretty. They also boast excellent hospitality in the 20th hole. Yup. They have 19 on the main course and a super nine holer. And then the bar. JCB LAY