The history of the Jakobsberg golf course starts in 1157, when Frederick I Barbarossa founded a monastery on a plateau high above the majestic Rhine valley. After some trials and tribulations the remains of the estate were bought by Hans Riegel Jr. in 1960 and transformed into a hotel. The new owner was not a golfer, but the Gummy Bear king, heir of the founder of legendary German confectionery maker Haribo (an acronym for Hans Riegel, Bonn). He was also a big game hunter, when that was still de rigueur in Africa and elsewhere.
At home he roamed the more modest hunting grounds adjacent to his hotel and entertained the rich and famous. When hunting went out of fashion, he needed a new plan for the hotel and decided to build a golf course. It opened in 1994 and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
The views are certainly stunning, but the real star is the layout. There are no weak holes on the course, all are strategic, fun to play and memorable. No extreme features or gimmicks are needed, it's all about balance here. There are undulations, some rather awe-inspiring, but it is a very comfortable walk. The greens are substantially contoured, but never over the top. There are wide, long fairways and tricky, short ones. Every club in the bag will be tested.
Despite being wonderfully grown-in, the general scenery is always wide open, perhaps most reminiscent of a Tuscan landscape with its scattered trees and gently rolling slopes. This creates an atmosphere of freedom, no doubt helped by the plateau location, so the golfer will mostly look down on the landscape and perhaps feel a little larger than life.
However, not everything that looks wide also plays wide! Jakobsberg has been holding up quite well as a 3rd level Tour venue and host of several German PGA events. It should be a sporty challenge for the eager weekend warrior. Long-term interest is guaranteed, because it is structurally sound and does not rely on one-off effects.Up until October 15th, 2013, whenever a helicopter flew over the golf course and landed near the driving range, causing all golfers to pause and reflect momentarily, it could very well have been old Hans himself at the helm.
On to the golf, to me it's magical and I always seem to play well here. Jakobsberg is not a pushover by any means, but there's something in the air that just makes me swing easy. The first fairway could use some irrigation, so don't be disappointed, when it's burnt out in the summer, because you may just be able to reach the par 5 green with your second! If not, admire the castle and pitch on (see enclosed image). Other than that I have never found the course in a bad condition. It drains like a champ and consequently the members enjoy a longer season than most. In short, it's a fantastic layout with no strings attached. While tastes certainly differ, I cannot imagine that any golfer would fail to have fun here. Incidentally, should you have the time and good weather after your round, then I highly recommend to complete the scenic drive down the Rhine valley to Bingen. This will take you about 45 minutes - unless you decide to get out and visit one of the many castles or quaint towns on the way. At some points you can even cross the river on a car ferry and drive back on the other side. (UM)