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Berlin-Wannsee (Championship)

Berlin-Wannsee (Championship)

Berlin, Berlin
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Berlin, Berlin
  • AddressGolfweg 22, 14109 Berlin, Germany
  • Championships hosted

Formed as Berlin Golf Club by British and American diplomats back in 1895, the club is one of the oldest and most prestigious in continental Europe. Golf has been played at the present site since 1926, although legendary figure Cuthbert Strachan Butchart had already designed 18 holes in 1913 and seeded them a year later. The plan was to host the Olympic golf tournament in 1916, but when that was cancelled due to World War I, the course was fenced in and put to sleep for a decade.

In 1924 the required funds to complete the course were finally secured, but Butchart had already moved to the USA. He never saw—and perhaps never even heard of—his last European design. An English builder was commissioned, who arrived with 60 horses and more than 100 workers, but it seems that all German golfers of distinction wanted to be involved. Karl Hoffmann, designer of the iconic Bauhaus style clubhouse, put his name on the plans and his later partner Bernhard von Limburger snatched the trophy in the opening tournament.

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It is fair to say that the club subsequently evolved into one of the most glamorous in Europe. Royalty on the fairways was the norm and Percy Alliss (Ryder Cup player and five-time winner of the German Open) was the professional. No wonder that in 1930 an additional 9 holes were needed and none other than Harry Colt and John Morrison were tasked to produce them. Their "new" holes have since been combined with 9 "old" holes to form the present day 18-hole Championship layout with the remaining 9 Butchart holes making up the secondary course.

At the end of World War II the United States military took over the operation of the 27-hole golf complex and the "front 18 holes" remained in their hands for exactly fifty years until they were handed back to the Germans by US Army General Yates a year before the club celebrated its centenary in 1995. However, even during the "American occupation" the course has hosted many prestigious golf tournaments, the most famous of which was the 1980 edition of the national Open, won by Mark McNulty, who finished two strokes ahead of Tony Charnley and Neil Coles.

Today the classic parkland layout, surrounded by the Düppeler Forest and close to the popular lakes Stölpchensee and Wannsee, is firmly entrenched in the top flight of German golf. Some agronomic issues of the past were dealt with by rebuilding the greens, whose moderate undulations match those of the surrounding terrain very well. So far no one has come up with plans to "bring the course into the modern age" and that is a good thing. The layout makes sense from start to finish and should be left well enough alone.


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Course Architect

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Harry Colt

Harry Colt studied law at Clare College, Cambridge. Twelve months after his 1887 enrolment, he joined the committee of the Cambridge University Golf Club and in 1889 became the club's first captain.

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