Thanks to a special rule in German amateur golf, a club team can nominate one professional for their league games so Düsseldorfer Golf Club recently selected four-time European Tour winner Marcel Siem, while neighbouring Golf Club Hubbelrath countered with Maximilian Kieffer, who is also a European Tour player – such is the competitive spirit between the two clubs, which had their courses built around the same time (1963 v 1961) by two equally prominent (and rival) golf architects.
By virtue of the Hubbelrath course being two years older, Düsseldorfer's architect Fred Hawtree was able to take a good look at what Bernhard von Limburger had already produced, especially as the terrain is strikingly similar. Huge rolling landscapes dominate either site and both architects routed the fairways boldly across, instead of along the contours.
It's a toss-up between the two courses as far as quirk and drama is concerned. If anything, Düsseldorfer is a bit more extreme, whereas few clubs can hold a candle to Hubbelrath in terms of its presentation, playability and maintenance.
The Düsseldorfer adventure starts off with three moderate holes and then the rollercoaster is kick started, two holes sooner than at Hubbelrath. After a very slight let-off around the turn, things become positively crazy between holes #11 and #15, including a drive over the access road, where neither the golfers nor the motorists can see each other!
The last hole of this stretch is the signature hole, recently renovated by Christian Althaus: a breath taking drop shot par three with a pond in front of the green that makes club selection unusually difficult. The architect told us that he deems his home club to be a nice parkland design in a rolling topography, where the hilly lies make incoming shots quite demanding. Thus you need an intelligent strategy to play the course, where length off the tee is less important than placement.
Interestingly, the course record is more than 40 years old and stands at a mere 64 by none other than a young Bernhard Langer. But recreational golfers needn’t fear playing here as it's a fun track and not overly long. While it's not a stroll in the park, the routing is very clever and accommodates walkers wherever possible.
Düsseldorfer is a mature 18 hole track over very hilly ground. This slopes - in addition to the length and encroaching trees - make the course very demanding for the average player.
Ultimately, it’s a good course if you are looking for a proper challenge, but a long walk for most.
The green fee is high, although the club doesn‘t seem to rely on guest income judging by the car park!
According to the club's history 14000 trees were planted during construction on a site that needed perhaps a handful. While the course doesn't feel completely tree-lined, it actually is and there are issues with playing angles in several spots. Thankfully it does not spoil the experience, because everything takes a back seat to the spectacular terrain. The photo shows the landing zone for the drive on hole 5. This shortish par 4 with alternate fairways is genius. Going down the right side means flirting with the pond - the tongue of fairway behind the pond is where good tee shots will be directed by the slope. The angle into the green is best from there. Going down the left side is safer, but one of those 14000 is over there.
When it's good, then Düsseldorfer is very good. But when it's bad... the last two holes are shocking. The 17th is a par 3 that is grown in to the point, where the green bunkers are obscured. And the 18th is the king of connector holes, a veritable death march par 4 with a juicy uphill struggle to even get to the tee.
Düsseldorfer is still a high quality affair and certainly worth playing, but they need to do something about their unlined bunkers. Every couple of years a heavy rain event washes them out, which must tie up a considerable part of their maintenance budget. Once they get that sorted, perhaps they can invest in sand like their more famous neighbor and aspire to similar standards. Right now they're flying a bit under the radar, but perhaps that is how the members like it. (UM)