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. The design of the present day 18-hole championship course at Wannsee is attributed to Karl Hoffman, who later became a partner of Bernard von Limburger. Hoffman was also responsible for the introduction of a complementary 9-hole layout at Wannsee a few years later, in 1930.
The United States military took over the operation of this 27-hole golf complex at the end of World War II and it remained in their hands for exactly fifty years until it was handed back to its German owners by US Army General Yates a year before the club celebrated its centenary in 1995.
Surrounded by the Dauerwald Forest, the championship course is a classic parkland layout and its tight, tree-lined holes are routed in an out-and-back fashion around a gently undulating landscape, where the topography lends itself to subtle elevation changes during a round.
Percy Alliss – a five-time winner of the German Open – was club professional at Berlin during the late 1920s and since then, 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.
I walked around Golf Klub Berlin Wansee a few winters ago and had the distinct pleasure of playing there yesterday. It is a heathland course in the mould of the Surrey/Berkshire courses (without the heather) and enjoys an amazing routing through valleys and with some nice elevation changes, and with pine, oak and silver birch along each fairway. The routing takes you down through a very secluded area, only along the 4th (a large and interesting Third Reich era building with satellites) and 6th (houses by the tee) do you come in contact with anything that isn’t pure nature.
All the holes are interesting, not a long course by modern standards, and is quite tight on many occasions (with some overhanging trees making driving interesting). The par fours are mostly under 400 yards, but there are some really interesting dog legs and strategy from the tee, not power, is paramount save for 2 or 3 long holes.
The par threes are a very testing set, none short, 6/5 iron for holes 8, 14 and 17 which are all beautifully designed and have greens that are set up and tricky to hit. The 10th is a monster at 240 yards to a small green (may have been a short par 4 at some point)
The par fives are all very good and except for the 4th genuine 3 shoters. I really enjoyed these holes.
Every hole has its own personality and you’d never get bored playing this course. The bunkers are well positioned but not as deep as I feel they should be to provide a proper test. The club house is really wonderful and everyone was very welcoming. They have the best course guide books (free) I have ever seen and a free driving range (mats) and a nice choosing area and putting green. I was very happy with my €130 green fee..
The one quibble I had with the 18 hole course was that most of the greens aren’t in great shape, with a lot of scarring. Maybe this was due to maybe not enough sunlight on some of them, as some greens were good.
Also I was quite surprised that when I asked if I could play the (seemingly inferior) 9 hole course I was asked to pay €70..I declined that offer and headed back to Berlin (taxi €38 to Zoo