Golf Club Linz St Florian was founded in 1960, which makes it one of the oldest clubs in the area of Linz, the Upper Austrian capital. In 1975 the club moved to its present location in the Danube Valley. British architect Donald Harradine designed the course in the rolling Tillysburg Estate.
Linz played host to the Austrian Open in 1992, which resulted in a victory for Englishman Peter Mitchell, but since then Hans-Georg Erhardt has redesigned the course.
Unusually, the round at Linz starts with three par fives in the first four holes so you may get your round off to a flier if you can pick up a birdie here – the only drawback at a couple of these opening holes (and a few others later in the round) is the unsightly presence of power lines from the tee, detracting a little from the isolation afforded by the tree-lined fairways.
The 177-yard, par three, 7th is a lovely short hole, played over a pond to a long green protected on three sides by bunkers. Similarly, the signature hole at Linz, the 171-yard, par three, 16th also features water, as its green is guarded by a lake to the right (and a large bunker to the left to catch those who bale out too far to that side).
Set out in the grounds of Tillysburg Castle, which overlooks the surrounding landscape, the course at Linz St Florian is just over forty years old as the club moved to its current lofty premises in the mid-1970s. It’s a member of “The Leading Golf Courses” brand which boasts around fifty affiliate members in Austria, Germany and Switzerland so you expect to find quality here, both on and off the course.
This is plush parkland, with tree-lined fairways laid out around a nicely undulating property, but it didn’t really get my pulse raised until reaching the downhill short par four 6th, which is played to a well-bunkered green with great views of the neighbourhood that lies below the level of the elevated terrain on which the course is set out on. A gorgeous par three then follows at the 7th, its green benched into a small hillside on the other side of a stone-lined little pond.
A few things caught my eye on the front nine: I’m not a big fan of standalone trees in the middle of the fairway, and there was one on both the 1st and 2nd holes. I also don’t like seeing long, sandy waste areas on parkland tracks as they have no positive relationship with the adjacent fairway and this unnatural feature was found on holes 4 and 5. On the plus side, I loved the little lateral rocky terraces built along the par four 5th, which were a really clever way to deal with the right to left slope of the fairway.
Moving onto the back nine, water provides all the strategy on the first two holes, with greens set behind a couple of small ponds. The 13th plunges left and downhill from the tee (following the line of the hideous overhead power lines that loom over half a dozen holes on the course) only to have the par three hole that follows return golfers back uphill to the level they’d just left. The par three 16th with its peninsula green was probably the pick of the holes on the inward half, especially as it can played safe by bailing out to the left of the putting surface.
Overall, Linz St Florian is a very polished track, exquisitely presented with wonderful clubhouse facilities to match the on course conditioning. A very large group of American golfers was about to have a shotgun start to a round here as I was leaving and I can fully understand why foreign visitors like this would wish to play at such a beautifully manicured venue with relatively wide fairways, great greens and superb after-golf facilities.