The American private country club model hasn't really caught on in Germany for a combination of reasons that probably warrant a bachelor's thesis. Nevertheless, a few shots have been fired and one of the projectiles touched down at Riedhof, a hamlet just a few miles south of Munich. In the mid 1980s Heinz Fehring, at the time chiefly known as Bernhard Langer's first instructor, was the name guy among a group of defectors from Munich Golf Club. They took the club rules of Valderrama, where one of them was a member, and used it as a blueprint for their own venture. Fehring would jump-start his golf architecture business in the process, but also served as the club's president for many years. While a lot had to change since those halcyon days, a few things didn't, such as the inevitable high end practice ball pyramids and heated boxes on the driving range. However, and perhaps more surprisingly, the air of exclusivity and the plethora of amenities do not marginalise the actual course. It's a very light-hearted and fun track for recreational players with a few diabolical holes mixed in for balance.
Needless to say, conditioning is impeccable and the sand-capped fairways help to provide a reasonable golf season, which is not a given in the largely boggy landscapes south of Munich. Of course this does not mean that the course plays firm and fast and it probably never will. Brown is certainly not the new green at Riedhof. But the quality of the layout cannot be denied and the flower beds and colorful shrubs play well with the parkland setting. Thanks to the management's astute eye for quality, the detail work in every corner of the property is stunning.
While the site is not hilly and can easily be walked, the undulations are ubiquitous and, over the course of a round, add up to provide a healthy exercise. Nevertheless, the club doesn't stock more than a handful of carts and reserves them for special needs. Almost every hole is interesting and memorable, even the walk behind the driving range between holes 2 and 3 doesn't feel particularly jarring. And most members will look forward to the 3rd, a driveable par 4, immediately followed by a brutal double-dogleg par 5 - which sums up the course perfectly in two holes. There are perhaps three merely ok holes, the rest are consistently good and the recently returfed USGA spec greens deserve a special mention. Due to limited play and comprehensive care on part of the greenkeeping staff there is simply no putt going anywhere else than where the player hits it. Size, undulations and speed of the putting surfaces are well-balanced for member play, so good putters will make a bunch and bad putters will not be able to blame conditions.
Riedhof may be a first class experience all around, but the club never loses sight of its raison d'être - a very playable golf course.