Wiesbaden has a long history of golf; the oldest still-existing club (aptly named Wiesbadener Golf-Club) was founded here in 1893 and it moved to the present "Chausseehaus" site in 1911. After World War II that course was occupied by the American military, who brought a large contingent of golfers to Germany. When it became clear that the wee 9 holer could not keep up with demand (and the German club lobbied to get it back), the US Air Force decided to build their own 18-hole course nearby for exclusive military use. Bernhard von Limburger and Herbert E. Gaertner were the only German golf architects at the time and according to the club both were involved in creating the new Rheinblick course in 1955.
In 1977 German players were admitted and a German club called "Rhein-Main" was established. The politically correct "GC Rhein-Main/Rheinblick Course" is certainly a mouthful, but the rather shorter moniker of "Rheinbrick" fell out of use since fairway irrigation was installed in a massive "millennium update". Not quite as comprehensive, but just as well received was David Krause's renovation in 2013.
Much like Augusta National the course was built on heavily undulated, but fairly open land and subsequent tree plantings have changed its character substantially. Nevertheless, Rheinblick still offers a glimpse of how Alister MacKenzie's masterpiece might have played in its formative years: very firm from tee to green, solid strategic options and a smattering of ground game throughout.
The routing succeeds on several fronts. First, it provides a great mixture of long and short holes, of narrow and wide fairways and the best green sites were reserved for the par threes. Second, it levels the playing field. Long hitters have a few opportunities to cut doglegs and bomb the occasional driver. The par fives are mostly reachable in two, but other than that, short and accurate players can easily stand their ground. Especially when they're good putters, because even solid ball strikers will struggle to create enough spin on the very firm and undulated greens. Most of the collars are cut relatively short, too, although not to fairway height. Third, the routing cares for walkers and fourth, average hitters off the members' tee can reach most holes in regulation.
As for any tree-lined course, there will be balls in the woods and tree management is a constant challenge. But despite a number of hanging fairways a good shot will not disappear in the forest and a bad shot is often retrievable. Fans of quirky tracks will love the experience, perhaps for different reasons, but just as much as competitive golfers.
It's a truly American venue in the best sense of the word.
Rheinblick means "Rhein View", but it is a bit of a stretch (literally) to get a glimpse of the "most German river" of all. But that misnomer is about the only thing I can criticise here, the course itself has no weaknesses. It's a hilltop site, but quite walkable and very firm. I'm not usually a fan of tree-lined courses, because they tend to make every hole look and play the same. It's different here, though, the greenkeeping team seems to be on it and the ever-present undulations create real variety. It's fun, it's firm, it's a challenge - what more could you want? And the course will only get better with every additional tree they can remove. (UM)