Gut Wissmanshof is an old country estate, whose fifteen minutes of fame came in 1912 when Emperor Wilhelm II visited to survey military exercises nearby. Apparently, one spectator was shot in the proceedings and a beech tree was planted to supply a shady viewing place for the Emperor's next visit.
Incidentally, it took almost a century for the next strong man to arrive and the Kaiser's tree had long since been uprooted by lightning. Hubert Landefeld, the founder of the industrial supplier of the same name, bought the place outright in 2009.
The property included a golf course which, on its own, wasn’t enough for the ambitious investor's plans. A sweeping sports resort it was to be, complete with twenty-seven first-class golf holes, a luxurious hotel and further amenities for hikers, cyclists and climbers.
Holger Rengstorf, of Winston Open fame, was retained to design the golf course. The first eighteen holes opened in 2016 and they present themselves as both a high quality build and professional shaping job. The layout is a fun track also: not too long, with impressive eye candy to make it worth a weekend trip.
There are nice views over the Kassel basin from the top holes, but generally the course plays up and down an inclined plateau of man-made features. While the terrain isn’t too steep, the course would probably have benefitted from being routed in terraces On the other hand, returning nines and cart access are important considerations for a 27-hole resort.
Rengstorf's styling is less eclectic, but no less flashy than at Winston. The rough is kept down and there are almost no trees, as befits a resort course that needs to keep play moving. One specialty here is that fairway bunkers aren’t built for the elite. The first line of sand traps is usually reachable for average hitters, who consequently need to think more than usual.
This is also the case on the difficult putting surfaces that often feature subtle breaks near the hole. While they are not penal, they will assert themselves on the scorecard. However, most players will still be able to enjoy this course, since the greens are generally accessible and forgiving of a slightly sloppy short game.
Ryder Cup aspirations, as they have been leaked to the press, are certainly more a marketing ploy than anything else. There is neither enough length nor the required infrastructure for that. But the stadium-like character of the course will produce a Ryder Cup feel for larger groups. And with the hotel, restaurant and practice area now open, this place is poised to become a fixture for buddy trips and societies.