Stuttgarter Golf Club Solitude was founded way back in 1927 but prolific architect Dr Bernhard von Limburger designed the current layout in the late 1960s. It is set on gently rolling terrain on the edge of the Black Forest. Host venue to the Linde German Masters in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Stuttgarter was known as an accomplished tournament test with clever bunkering and tricky raised greens. But newer developments, especially at St. Leon-Rot, have taken over the professional circuit, so in the mid 2000s Thomas Himmel was brought in to re-establish former glory.
The relatively generous fairway width was preserved, but the greens of the small, upturned saucer type that Bernhard von Limburger saw on so many classic English parkland courses, were changed completely. Thomas Himmel enlarged many and repositioned those that didn't get any sun or wind. The challenge now isn't finding the greens anymore, but putting through the subtle breaks that run in all directions and are very hard to see. It is not uncommon to see the ball rolling towards the hole, but turning away at the last moment. The bunkering was modernised as well, so this already quite affable course has been streamlined further to a championship style and the conditioning keeps pace with those ambitions. Except for the clay-based soil that is; fairways would benefit from generous sand capping. Nevertheless, some top amateur events have returned to Stuttgart with its fine collection of long par fours and lovely single-shot holes.
For mid-to-low handicappers the tidy layout provides all the information they need – except perhaps for one or two spots in the middle of the front nine, where things do get a bit wild. These are also the most interesting holes, although better players will probably just hit a couple of precise irons and be done with it. The routing flows quite organically over much of the site – not counting a few unimaginative side-by-side fairways at the beginning of the back nine and the "Via Mala", a steep walk after hole 3 that the Tour Pros were actually driven up in carts. There's a 100-hole competition at the club, so those contestants will have to walk it six times in one day – ouch!