Gut Düneburg is a tranquil golf resort in a rural area that’s blessed with some great terrain for its golf course. The first three holes are moorland in nature and gently undulated as they wind their way through the forest. The 4th hole makes a great transition into more open land and the following stretch of holes play around a couple of lakes with an assortment of heroic water carries.
A number of Scandinavian-style holiday cottages are also located there, but they fit nicely into the surroundings. Instead of lining the fairways, the developer put them on the other side of the lakes and arranged them in an irregular cluster, rather than rows. The entire area is sandy, as evidenced by the numerous natural bunkers that are laid out as waste areas.
At the 9th hole, there’s an exasperating walk where golfers actually leave the golf course, re-enter at the clubhouse, then pass the 18th green before going back up towards the 1st tee to reach the 10th behind it. An easy solution to overcome this long trek would be to simply switch the nines, cutting the walk into two parts. The reason for this awkward routing is probably that the 18th is the signature hole and the back nine seems to be received more favourably in general.
Holes 10-18 were built on a giant sand drift with yet more natural bunkers and an occasional patch of heather. Unfortunately, the heathland character seems to not play much of a role in the maintenance meld, as there are all sorts of young trees and greedy shrubs growing in between. The course still does play firm, but not as much as the carefully groomed heathland courses in England.
In any event, there are a number of great holes here that also feature some good ground game aspects. The culmination is the 18th hole, a left doglegged par four with the ultimate penal approach. Only after a 100% perfect drive can the golfer hope to attack the peninsula green through a gap in the trees and off a side hill or downhill lie.
Things are generally pretty low key at Gut Düneburg and the course doesn't shove its features in your face, but there’s a quiet air of quality underlying everything. The variety of the terrain is rare and many holes have a sound strategy. Replay interest should be high and the entire place is easy to spend time at.
Much of 2020 has left me feeling like a pro golfer - only time you’ll ever catch me writing this - who has lost his tour card. So when a friend managed to get me a sponsor’s exemption for an event in Germany, I was pretty happy. A short trip across the border & one Big Mac later we found ourselves at Gut Duneberg, a course ranked #19 amongst Germany’s 700+ options.
The opening hole, a pretty enough little left to right dogleg, had my Spider Sense tingling almost immediately. You see I had feared my unintentionally excellent opening drive had run out of room, yet in Mysterio fashion I found my ball in the fairway, about 3 inches behind its deep plug mark. Where was the Sand, man, mentioned in the previous review? These ground conditions continued for the first 7 or 8 holes.
Much of the front nine was also too narrow (or a relative lack of width was exacerbated by wild rough immediately outside of the fairways). This gave no chance of recovery shots and lead to balls lost for shots that were not the worst you’d ever seen. One additional observation would be that several of these opening holes had unnecessary tree/shrub growth obscuring some targets, both into greens or in front of tee boxes. If this was an Alister MacKenzie course you might credit the camouflage or applaud the deception, but it was just messy.And it would be the simplest of fixes. On the positive side, I enjoyed the green site on the 3rd hole, hitting up into a benched target with trouble left, and the pretty dropshot short 4th. My Spider Sense did tingle again, one final time, when using the shortest stick. This time it was Green Goblins that caught my attention - seemingly exhibits from Kew Gardens were on display on some of the putting surfaces.
Thankfully, things dramatically improve at the turn, and what follows is a series of more expansive woodland holes, with intermittent clusters of heather (as well as that legend, sand). If you had 18 holes like this, you might have something that rivals the likes of Rosendaelsche in The Netherlands. These holes were a pleasure to play. Hole 18 returns to the softer conditions of the opening holes and a par here is well earned. It requires a very precise drive up the right side of a tilted fairway, and then a forced carry steeply downhill over a pond to what is essentially an island green. 3 stableford points here were appreciated and sneaked my total up to 30 or 31. I’d played well but had lost too many balls.
Gut Duneberg could be greatly improved by better maintenance and I wonder if the Corona situation has had an impact on this? This would still leave a distinct quality divergence between the 9’s, but that could be forgiven if the overall playability and conditioning was optimized - especially as the better holes are saved for later in the round. I have limited experience of playing in Germany, but a current ranking of #19 feels too high based on what we saw. Back 9 sneaks it up to 4 balls.
This one's definitely off the beaten track and so it has flown under my radar, which usually is quite sensitive to sandy courses. The marketing doesn't make much of that angle though and neither does the greenkeeping. But how many courses in Germany can lay a legitimate claim to either the links or heathland designation? There's a lot of heather in Northern Germany, but all of it fiercely protected from development, so I don't know how they got permission to build here. I suppose no one actually saw the sand before the pines were cleared. Be that as it may, it's a strong design on great land and if they could somehow tie the 18 holes together, perhaps by creating an out and back routing, they could export the course to Surrey. Cut down more trees, cultivate the heather - it's no secret how to rise up in the rankings. (UM)