Sitting high above Lake Millstatt in one of the most popular regions of Austria, we find Golfanlage Millstätter See, a topographical gem of two 9-hole sections. The more conventional part is called the "parkland course" and then there is the aptly named and notorious "terrain course". Or rather it used to be there. Modern demands placed on the club led to a re-routing such that the parkland holes now come in the middle of the round and the infamous "terrain" is hacked into two halves. It does make for a more balanced experience overall, but the raw thrill of navigating the front nine over "the terrain" was something unique. Most of those holes appear to hang in thin air and yet the architects had managed to create a playable and walkable loop. There were some exacting climbs to be sure, but none just to get to the next hole - it was all fairways and greens.
Some of the hard-to-believe highlights include the second hole, where the drive needs to cover a deep valley and find a bathtub-like fairway of epic proportions. Today's 15th is a "driveable par three" that is actually fun to play – unless you go left, which is certain death or, as the course guide puts it, makes par very hard. The 16th is another great par four, where the drive needs to cover hell and the green is raised and set against a rock face. And the par five 17th has a second shot that is not merely a transporter, but a superb risk/reward opportunity with endless strategic possibilities. However, there are also a number of fun shots that reward greatness. Case in point: if the blind drive on the 14th is executed to perfection, the approach down to the lake is simply exhilarating and the pin can be attacked head-on.
The parkland holes are clearly a different animal; while there is some creative golf to be played over them and even though they would be considered undulating on any other course, here they appear quite mellow in comparison. The challenges are altogether subtler. For example, on today's 5th hole (the former 12th) the architect decorated the neck of the dogleg with a romantic barn, which, when playing into the wind, can quickly turn into a horrible shack. With the new routing the contrasts between front and back aren't as stark anymore and for most golfers this is probably a good thing. They'll also love the meticulous maintenance and the very speedy greens, which only add to the already considerable challenge.
At the end of the day, how many courses can claim even one genuine world-class hole? This track has several.
My expectations were quite high...the ninth best golfcourse in Austria?! Who had the idea to rate that course that high? it`s a little mickey mouse course, with some ok golf holes, some nice views in ok condition...i was disappointed. For sure not a top 10 course in Austria. This country has a lot better courses.