The Frisian Islands that lie off the west coast of Jutland between Denmark and Germany are very popular with the type of tourist who wants to “get back to nature” and Sylt is one of the main islands in this archipelago.
Connected to the German mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway, Sylt’s popular resorts of Westerland and Kampen may soon be overtaken in the visitor stakes by an influx of golfers arriving to sample some serious links action at the new Budersand Sylt course on the southern tip of the island.
Local architect Rolf-Stephan Hansen has transformed a former military base – Sylt was the first part of Germany to have bombs dropped on it during World War II – into a stunning new 18-hole golf course that some seasoned observers consider to be the equal of any of the top links courses that run down the west coast of Europe between Denmark and France.
On a site surrounded by natural dunes, the eighteen holes here have been so well laid out to blend in with their surroundings that it is difficult not to think they were fashioned at the hands of an experienced master designer, never mind a German rookie on his first project!
The scale of the challenge at Budersand Sylt is set out at the very first hole on the fringe of the property, played downhill to a fairway that then veers left and up to a green with a sand hill to the right for protection – as tough an opening hole as you could care to imagine.
The back nine holes are, if anything, a cut above a very good front nine, with two brilliant par three holes carved into the dunes at holes 13 and 15 and a stream that veers across the closing three holes, creating a Carnoustie-like final flourish to the round.
It’s easy to see why Budersand Sylt was voted the best new German course in 2009 as it’s already being spoken of in some quarters as one of the best in continental Europe.
The course was in good condition when I played it in 2012 for the last time, so the fairways and greens where hard and fast. But to be honest: Only in comparison to the other courses on Sylt Budersand is exceptional. It is a nice try of building a links course on German soil, and there are a few holes you will remember after your round. The short Par 3 15th is really beautiful with the view over the Wattenmeer and I liked the tricky opening hole, which looks quite narrow from the tee box. The course is definitely worth playing when you are on Sylt and worth the journey.