Designed by Hans Georg Erhardt, the Metzenhof golf facility is a family owned and operated enterprise which is situated in the heart of Upper Austria, between the towns of Enns and Steyr, in the rural Kronstorf region.
First opened for play in 2004 as a 9-hole course, the golf complex has since been extended to a full 18-hole layout, along with a 3-hole short course, a 5-bay driving range and practice area. It’s been home to the Austrian PGA since 2009.
The clubhouse also includes a comfortable boutique hotel and restaurant – both of which are open to golfers and non-golfers alike – and it’s easy to see why such a well-appointed set-up is used as a national training base for professional golfers.
Set out on the wide floodplain of the River Enns, which forms the state boundary between Upper and Lower Austria, the course occupies two distinct parcels of land within a rather flat farming landscape. Holes 1-11 are generally orientated in a north/south direction, whilst holes 12-18 are laid out on a mainly east/west bearing.
The course at Golfpark Metzenhof starts and finishes with a par five hole, offering birdie opportunities at the beginning and the end of the round. Three of the five par threes on the card are played on the front nine, contributing toward the comparative shortness of the outward half.
On the back nine, there’s a formidable pair of holes positioned around a menacing little lake: the par three 15th requires an heroic carry across water to the green and it’s followed by the short par four 16th, where the fairway cuts across the same hazard as it doglegs to the green from an offset tee position.
Looking at the lie of the land immediately surrounding the Metzenhof property, it doesn’t take a genius to work out a fair amount of soil was shifted to fashion many of the fairways, particularly on the back nine around the clubhouse. Having said that, holes 5 to 8 occupy naturally elevated terrain along a forested hillside, with the teebox of the downhill short par four 9th offering great views across a wide valley from the highest point on the course.
Small ponds came into play straight away on the first three holes and I thought this might be a recurring theme for the rest of the round. Thankfully, there turned out to be no further aquatic intrusions for the remainder of the front nine – plenty of large bunkers to negotiate, right enough, but sand as a hazard isn’t too bad as it always offers a chance of recovery, whereas water is just so penal.
The par three 5th at the southern extremity of the property was an early favourite, its green sloping so wickedly from back to front that it was virtually impossible to get close with a putt from above the hole. The short par four 8th was easily the best hole on the outward half for me, playing along the edge of the forest on the left before taking a 45 degree turn up to a two-tiered green benched into the hillside – and the outlook across the rest of the course from the green was quite stunning!
Holes 10 and 11 occupy the same low-lying part of the course as holes 1-4 so it came as no real surprise to find them routed around another couple of small ponds, bringing me back next to the 1st tee, which meant crossing back over the road (or under, via a tunnel) that runs through the course to complete my round. I can understand if some golfers were annoyed at not being able to play returning nines on either side of the highway, though that would be merely a minor moan, I’m sure.
Holes 12 to 18 on the clubhouse side of the road start and end with par fives and sandwiched in between these long holes is a fine selection of par threes and par fours, especially at the all-carry 141-metre 15th which plays across a rather deep, steep-sided pond (that actually looks very natural) – it requires a thrilling all-or-nothing tee shot to the shallow, slightly domed offset green as there’s not much by way of a bail out area to the left of the putting surface.
Overall, I was surprised by the quality of the course at Metzenhof. Obviously, it has to be of a decent standard to acquire the endorsement of the Austrian PGA as a golfing centre of excellence, but I didn’t expect to see the quality of the build or, more importantly, the excellent composition of the creeping bentgrass greens. Throw into the mix the lovely homely atmosphere created by the young staff in the clubhouse restaurant and it all makes for quite a day to remember when you tee it up here.