Municipal golf is not a thing in Germany and neither are fescue greens. In both cases the big question is "why should that be so?". In the small resort town of Bad Birnbach no one found a convincing answer. What they did find is a spectacular site on a hill permeated by ravines and so "Bella Vista" was born – a municipal golf course with fescue greens presiding over the town. A bit of differentiation was necessary anyway, because some very stiff competition lives just a few miles up the road: the behemoth resort of Bad Griesbach with several signature and Tour courses. Bad Birnbach's strategy is to attract those tourists, who want to get away from the hustle and bustle, sacrificing quantity, but not quality.
As far as the golf course is concerned, the three key concepts – tranquility, uniqueness and long views – have been implemented resolutely. In contrast, very little thought has been given to what happens when Tiger Woods comes. It's a refreshingly short track, where average players will actually have a chance to bring their mid and short irons into play. And whoever came up with the idea of fescue greens must be applauded: the putting surfaces are fantastic and they don't need size to create significant short game challenges. It's the kind of putting typically found on low-profile, quirky links tracks, where no one has ever seen a pitch mark.
The bones for greatness are definitely in the ground, but some are still buried. After the 14th hole the layout turns into itself and there is no way out, but to retreat along several holes to find the rest of the course on both sides of the largest ravine. The next three holes then play back and forth over the canyon in a manner that some will find repetitive or even contrived. It is also here that the hardest climbing occurs, until the 18th appears, which is a fun downhiller to finish. Perhaps in the future some kind of rerouting can happen to make better connections and ease off a bit on the steepness. Cart riders probably won't mind either way, but for walkers this could elevate the course into an entirely different category. Right now it relies on the strength of the first 14 holes.