There are two courses at Diamond Country Club, the Country and the Diamond. The Country course is a fragmented and rather simple affair, but the main Diamond course is the real thing. Designed by Englishman Jeremy Pern, who fashioned the exciting Dartmouth Country Club in Devon, the Diamond has very quickly established itself as one of the best courses in Austria.
With plenty of water to focus the mind, the Diamond opened for play in 2002 and it’s a mighty challenge which stretches out to 6,810 metres from the championship tips. Choose your tee carefully and avoid your macho instinct or you’ll be masochistic with your card.
After playing the first hole – with water running down the left side of the fairway – you could be forgiven for wondering over the next five holes what all the fuss is about in relation to water hazards here. Then you will discover that eight of the remaining twelve holes feature lakes and ponds which threaten tee shots, approach shots and, at some holes, both!
The two par three holes on the back nine – the 175-metre 11th and 145-metre 15th – are played to island greens where anything wayward off the tee will sink in the drink! The 418-metre, par four, closing hole has water on the left and out of bounds on the right of the fairway, so accuracy is called for right to the very last shot on the Diamond course.
Since 2010, the Austrian Open (badged the Lyoness Open from 2012 to 2017) has been staged on the Diamond course at Diamond Country Club. Spain’s José Manuel Lara won the 2010 event and saved his European Tour card in the process after beating David Lynn in a play-off.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Diamond Country Club will be remembered for genuine innovation. The Shot Clock Masters made history
as the first tournament in professional golf to use a shot clock on every
stroke as part of the European Tour’s bid to combat slow play. All players were
timed on every shot, and on each occasion a player failed to hit his shot within
the time limits, a one-shot penalty was added to his score for that hole.
Interestingly, not one single professional ranked in the world top one hundred played in the 2018 event (which Finland’s Mikko Korhonen won) and only four players were penalised over the four days where round times were recorded as being significantly quicker than the season average.
Ten years after the original Jeremy Penn design, the golf course underwent extensive rework because the water table, depending on the nearby Danube river, had risen by quite a bit, exposing the course to frequent flooding. Thus were added a number of small lakes and ditches which now form most of the water encounters around the course, where originally only two lakes threatened drives and approach shots. This rework was accomplished by the then new owner with the help of Miguel-Angel Jimenez (who apparently met his current wife on the resort!).
Today the Diamond course is still very flat, most of the elevation being provided for the tee boxes and the greens (the Country course is only 12 holes and there is also a nine-hole Park training course). Even though the water table went back down partially, water does come into play on half of the holes. The distinguishing feature of the course is that since there are two main lakes and many small additional ones, there are a lot of openings allowing to see other holes of the courses pretty much from anywhere, contrary to most parkland courses where tree lines will separate holes and isolate golfers from other groups.
Another, more surprising (and most un-golf-like) feature is the tall chimney stacks that tower over the Danube side of the course: it is a coal-and-gas power station which was built some time ago, but is now de-activated. Apparently this power station was built because just down river a nuclear power station had been built, but just before it was to be hooked to the Austrian grid a popular vote turned down the nuclear option…
Back to the golf proper: the Diamond course may have water in many places, it is still quite long at over 6,800 meters from the back tees (the blacks). This means long par-fours! They needed to create a shorter tee set, the oranges, because the reds still stretch over 5,457 meters. The orange tees provide enough of a challenge to most ladies with 5,011 meters! For men, I for one never even considered playing from the yellow tees (6,130 meters) and swallowed my pride, used the blues (still a respectable 5,821 meters as far as I was concerned), especially as the weather was quite windy and threatened rain all through the round (the downpour only started once we were safely back in the clubhouse, thank you very much).
The first hole puts you right in the mood, with a lake stretching all the way down the left of the fairway (from the black tees, reaching over the water means a 220 meters carry, and a total distance of 461 meters, what a warm-up par-four!). The next two holes are still 400 meters and more before you can catch your breath a little, but then the first par-three, the 6th hole, is a respectable 206 meters long so yes, it can be open and mostly free from bunkers and water. Next two long par-fives will test your long clubs, at 549 and 540 meters respectively. The final two holes of the first loop will keep you on your toes again: the 8th stretches 448 meters from the back and requires a very good tee shot to have an opening to the green around the dogleg right, and the 9th offers an enticing view of the “boathouse”, the main event locale of the resort… across a lake that separates tees from green. There is a safe, dry option on the left side if you don’t mind playing bogey golf.
Surviving the first loop does not mean it is now a pushover: even though the second nine are relatively shorter in total length, both of the par-threes are over water (hidden from the tee on the 11th), the par-five 10th runs along the lake, the other par-five (13th hole) is 508 meters long, and the closing three par-fours are ranked 4th, 2nd and 6th hardest holes respectively. Patience is a notion that takes its full meaning on the Diamond course.
Even after a big day of rain, the fairways were flawlessly dry and the greens were fast, a witness to the good drainage system installed on the course, and a cause of several three-putts. No wonder the pros have come here and like to play this course, it is definitely difficult enough to test even their skills! The club also claims that it is probably the most difficult golf course in Austria…
One of the best golf courses in Austria, also European Tour destination and European Tour Course.
Course is kept at a very good standrd, wonderful and fast greens, a lot of water in play. Some tough holes out there. Sourrounding landscape is not the most beautiful but the course is a must play.
Not far from Vienna near Tulln. Easy to walk, very flat.