Should we ever decide to rank the “Top 100 Golf Courses playing around a medieval castle”, then Burg Zievel Golf Club would surely be on the list. The castle dates back almost 1,000 years and is still privately owned and inhabited. The land outside the walls had been used as an English landscape garden until the mid 1990s, when the owner decided to turn it into a golf course.
This is not as rare an occurrence as many may think, because there are literally dozens of castles in most German municipalities and they all need a way to finance their upkeep. Only a few are in a position where they can make money from "castle things" such as guided tours or medieval markets, but most come with a large tract of land. It's not always suitable for golf, but in this case the soil is manageable, trees aren't in the way and there are some contours to the land.
Donald Harradine was called in to take a look and he came up with what should probably count as his last original course design. Sadly he passed away before ground was broken, but the club decided to follow through on his plans rather than hiring a replacement.
The result was an 18-hole routing that seems to radiate the wisdom of old age and the Zen-like restraint that only very organic layouts can afford without becoming repetitive or indifferent. A healthy sprinkling of unusual features sees to that, as the player begins the journey in the shadow of the castle, gradually working up to a higher plateau behind it.
At the end of each nine, a semi-island green appears that sits right below the raised clubhouse porch. This configuration, with two island greens next to each other and a creek running between them with the castle looming in the background, is certainly a signature view of the highest order.
Club and course are largely unassuming and by no means overrun with visitors, so this fun-filled layout can be enjoyed with the appropriate amount of serenity as befits a veteran designer's last creation.