Some call the Beckenbauer course at the massive Hartl resort the “Kaiser’s playground” and with good reason as German footballing legend Franz Beckenbauer is a frequent visitor, returning at least once a year to compete in the “Kaisercup” charity golf tournament.
Designed by Bernhard Langer with Kurt Rossknecht and opened for play in 2002, the course is set on the flood plain of the River Rott with water featuring at several holes. Aquatic hazards are not the only obstacles to be overcome, however, as there are plenty of bunkers to be negotiated, many of which lurk invisibly from sight on the tee.
The right doglegged par four 2nd hole is a tough proposition to face so early in the round and only the bravest will try to carry the big pond in front of the green with their approach shot – far safer to bail out to the left then attempt a short chip and putt for par.
Length off the tee really matters at the two par threes on the front nine as both measure over 180 metres from the regular tees. Holes 14 and 17 on the inward half are a lot shorter but just as difficult to hit and hold – especially on the latter, where the elevated green sits behind a sizeable pond.
The Beckenbauer course plays long from the back markers – 6,500 metres long, in fact – and, of the six 18-hole layouts at the resort, it’s rated the second toughest. Don’t let that put you off from playing here, though, because it’s a course that rewards golfers who can keep the ball in play, avoiding the many wetland areas which lie on either side of the fairways.
Having “warmed up” for the Beckenbauer by tackling the Mercedes-Benz and Brunnwies layouts on preceding days, I was looking forward to playing a course that’s recognised as one of the most testing tracks at the Hartl resort. Like the neighbouring 18-hole Mercedes-Benz course on the Penning estate, the course lies on very flat land beside the River Rott.Unlike the other course, however, it has very few drainage ditches crossing the fairways, making it a far fairer golfing challenge than its sibling.
The par four 2nd serves early notice that water will play its part during the round (and so it does in front of the greens at holes 9, 17 and 18) though, to be fair, it never dominates proceedings – not overtly in the form of ponds or lakes, maybe, but straying from many of the fairways will result in a ball lost or lying in a wetland area just off the cut grass.
I thought the two “short” holes at 4 and 7 were ridiculously long at over 200 yards from the yellow tees and the severely doglegged 12th, which follows a long curve in the adjacent river, was just a little too contrived but those holes apart, the Beckenbauer is a very engaging test that should definitely be on the itinerary if visiting the Hartl resort.