Colony Club Gutenhof is located a mere 10 kilometres to the south of Vienna and with two 18-hole courses to choose from – East and West – this was Austria’s first club able to boast a full 36-hole facility.
The West course is widely considered to be the better of the two layouts. Both layouts opened for play in 1989 and were designed by Kurt Rossknecht and Hans Erhardt.
Both layouts are traditional parkland courses, which measure slightly more than 6,400 metres with par set at 73. Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance was enthusiastic about the Colony Club: "These two traditional parkland courses certainly belong amongst Europe’s best, as well as the signature holes, the course has an abundance of memorable holes."
The Colony Club has already played host to several international championships including the Austrian Open in 1993 and the Austrian Ladies Open in 1996 and the club continues to grow in stature.
Almost 6,500 meters from the back tees, this course may be flat but it is no joke… even less so for the golfers starting from any tees forward! In fact, the club has 6 sets of tees, and even the shortest one plays almost 5,200 meters, which is quite a bit longer than the average course red tees. For men with a handicap higher than 15, I would recommend to use the blue tees, still totaling 5,931 meters. In fact, with the new recommendations concerning starting tees in certain countries (not sure I would count Austria in these though), the male visitors should be informed and advised at the reception desk about not to play white or yellow tees systematically but to play from tees corresponding to their handicap range.
An interesting feature of Colony (or Himberg as the locals call it from the name of the village it is close to) is that one course is always available with no reserved tee times. Usually this is the East course, but on the day we played there was a tournament on that course so the West course was the one where you just walk up to the first tee and wait for your turn to tee off.
The West course may be the harder of the two, according to most people, but on the surface it is not too hard on the brain. Most fairways are wide, the rough is not too penalizing, and the condition of the course was perfect when I visited the club in early October. However, the holes are not without defenses. The 2nd, for example, the first par-three, offers a narrow view of the green through the forest from the tees, with a wide water ditch all along the right side (in fact, the cart and foot path is on the outside of the ditch). The 3rd, a par-five, will only seem easy (it is rated as handicap 13) to long hitters as it measures 534 meters from the back tees, and still 411 meters from the orange tees, the shortest set. The 4th, a short par-four allows a breather, but the very next hole is rated handicap 3 and is a much longer par-four at 403 meters from the whites. The 9th, the hardest rated hole, does not seem very long (only 365 meters from the back tees), but only two very well executed shots will allow to reach the green in regulation as it is tucked on the left side of the fairway so the approach shot will have to fly close to the trees to have a chance. The par-three 11th is the second time water really comes into play on this course. I guess this is in preparation for the 13th, the longest par-four at 426 meters, which wraps around the main lake of the course. If you have a very good drive, you might attempt to reach the green across the lake, which will shorten the distance somewhat, but at your own risk! The 17th is not easy either as it stretches over 423 meters from the white tees. Finally the 18th would be seen as an easier ending hole on paper at only 443 meters for a par-five, but beware of the large body of water you will have to cross to reach the green! You may want to remain humble and lay up to have a short, hopefully precise third shot at the flag.
This course is well balanced, with holes alternating in difficulty levels: the easiest ones are always next to the hardest ones, and the ones with medium rating often come by pairs so that you may have a rhythm going… before the next challenge. The greens are also quite fast, with slopes that are not so easy to read. No wonder this club is a favorite among Viennese golfers, in addition to being quite close to the capital city.