Schloss Schönborn may be “just” a classic parkland course, but it has to be one of the classiest ones around, and the whole day there was such an experience I rate this golf club the best I have played in Austria so far.
If you are looking for a beautiful golf experience near Vienna, look no further than GC Schloβ Schönborn. The course was created on the grounds of the Schönborn estate, around the striking 18th century castle where the current heir of the family that built it still resides while allowing the golf club to use some of its annex buildings for reception, pro-shop etc., and the main terrace and reception room for the restaurant. The terrain is gently undulating over the first 9 holes, and then completely flat for the rest of the course, including the extra 9 holes 19-27 (called “outside the grounds” holes because they were built on the other side of the wall circling the estate). The holes were built sometimes around the very mature, existing trees of the estate’s park (just outside the 16th green there is a 300-year old tree), as well as around a lake that comes into play on some of the last parts of the course. Even though I played the course at the beginning of October but before the forest turned to fall colors, the setting was beautiful throughout.
You should not let the views distract you too much from the golf though. The course is long enough, 6487 meters from the tips, and still 5449 meters from the shortest tees, the reds, so not much time to dawdle! For information, the ratings of the course when playing from the white tees are a scratch score of 74.6 and a slope of 139, for a par 73. Just to make sure you get your concentration soon enough, the hardest rated hole is #2 where the main difficulty is the distance one needs to cover to reach the turn of this dogleg right par-four; the next hole is a long par-five (528 meters from the back tees) with a soft double dog-leg right, no breathing space here. The first loop ends with two relatively easy holes, but don’t let the sights of the side of the castle rapture you on the par-three 9th.
The par-three 11th offers you the most pleasant view of the castle’s façade, and the people relaxing on the terrace will be able to judge your tee shot… which they cannot do for the 12th hole although the tees are just off the terrace, because the fairway is protected from view from the terrace by a thick hedge. The local advice is to look happy with your drive and smartly walk off, no matter where your ball landed. Just as well, too, because if the hole is short, it is tricky: the small, local river (the crosses the fairway very obliquely.
The main difficulties along this loop reside with the 14th, a long but straight par-four, and the final hole, a par-five with a dogleg right which forces golfers that cannot reach the turn comfortably to make a difficult choice for the third shot: to lay up before the arm of the lake which crosses the fairway, and have still a long approach shot to the small green, or to carry the water even though the fairway after the lake is quite narrow… To note: there used to be a massive oak tree in the middle of the fairway before the turn, which made the drive even more problematic for all golfers (to drive over it for the long hitters, to ensure you land on the left side for the others). This tree was felled recently during a violent storm, and a new tree has been planted. It might take fifty years before the newbie is as deterrent as the departed though.
The 19th hole is a most agreeable part of the day at Schloss Schönborn: if the day is nice, you sit on the terrace and bask in the sunshine looking over the 11th hole and the ancillary buildings past the tee boxes, and if not, you get to sit down in a very impressive, high-ceilinged room which must have been the main reception room of the castle in times gone by.
Date: October 16, 2019