Bad Orb is an ancient spa town owing to its salty springs, which had been exploited since the Middle Ages. When industrial salt production rendered that business model obsolete, they turned their attention to medical tourism and general wellness, so a golf course was deemed to be necessary.
After a long start-up phase it was in 1990, when finally a suitable site could be identified on a former bombing practice ground! Whether it is wise to take a deep divot on this course is anyone's guess, but the blasted lookout bunker on the second fairway is definitely a relict of World War I and you need to drive over it.
Despite being a spa town, Bad Orb – and hence the course – is definitely off the beaten track, even though they deceptively sit within an hour of the metropolitan area of Frankfurt am Main. But it's not the fashionable side of Frankfurt, so the course could almost be classified as a hidden gem with its idyllic and peaceful setting. The club's own description of "fairy tale like" might be slightly overstated, but the Brothers Grimm grew up nearby, so everything here gets the fairy tale angle.
The site is undulated, but reasonably walkable and it has copious variety at the start and towards the end. In-between a small number of filler holes appear just when it would be time to up the ante. It certainly doesn't help that the property is divided into three plots, which necessitates some walking, although most of it is quite tolerable.
Rhythm might suffer here or there, but a handful of holes are very memorable and most are a lot of fun to play – as are the greens, which are unusually quick, and in places even devilish. The par configuration starting the round deserves a mention as well: three, short four, five, five, three means that the player can get off to a flying start. There are only two really long par fours, so opportunities to score are plenty for average hitters.
All in all it's a very attractively presented layout in scenic surroundings and with a fair amount of excitement and quirk. One word of caution for die-hard golfers – winters are harsh in the area and the course will most likely be closed. But due to its elevation Bad Orb is a great getaway from the summer heat.