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Winston (Links)

Winston (Links)

Langen Brütz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
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Stefan von Stengel
01/07
Langen Brütz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
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  • AddressKranichweg 1, 19065 Langen Brütz, Germany

Probably the most controversial course ever built in Germany, it's a wild and rugged "faux links" - meaning that it looks like one, but was carved out of the gently rolling Baltic landscape that is otherwise characterised by forests, rivers and lakes.

It certainly took a mammoth construction effort, with more than 1.2 million cubic metres of earth moved during the build. All sand, except that for tees and greens, was taken from the site, so architect David Krause must have had a field day digging this dunescape out of the rather unremarkable land. These massive internal slopes are the hallmark of the course and distinguish it from any other in Continental Europe.

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Stefan von Stengel
01/07

The basic concept is clever; start with a flat site and then break it up internally. That way it can have all the quirks of an undulated property, but none of the strenous walks. At Winston Links it is generally just a few steps to get from a green to the next tee. Together with the generous layout and 15-minute tee time spacings the prevailing sensation is one of having a huge, undiscovered landscape to oneself. The only discording notes are the frequent views of the heavily wooded surroundings, which keep on sending the message that "this is not real". Some displeasure has also been voiced at the sharp tips of the pyramidal-shaped dunes, but experiences elsewhere (e. g. GC Bachgrund near Frankfurt am Main) show that this type of Alpinisation wears off over time and once the vegetation gets going, the contours are softened considerably.

True, this isn’t quite a Sand Hills or a Ballyneal but it’s a pretty good effort that doffs the hat to golf’s linksland origins. At no time does routine settle in and there are new surprises behind every twist and turn of the inspired routing. Gorse, heather and tall dunes (more than 30 feet high) flank many of the fairways which pitch and roll with the wildest of Irish and Scottish links. The bunkering is authentic and many of the sand traps are built in gathering, magnetic fashion designed to catch out unsuspecting golfers. The greens are big and bold with deep swales and subtle borrows.

Undoubtedly this course deserves to be acknowledged for its uniqueness alone. But whether it is fun to play after the novelty effect wears off remains to be seen. It may well be the hardest and most relentless course in Germany, but is a sustained clobbering really what repeat players are looking for? If yes, then Winston Links will certainly provide that in style.

For those, who are rather more timid at heart (or fashion a handicap over 28), David Krause also designed the fun 9-holer WINSTONkranich (crane – a common bird locally), which is a short par three track that’s fashioned in a similar style to its big siblings. And of course the Winston Open on the other side of the clubhouse is always a delight.

The following edited extract by architect David Krause is from Volume Seven of Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective. Reproduced with kind permission. To obtain a copy of the book, email Paul Daley at [email protected]

“It was during 2008 when I was first invited to visit WINSTONgolf. Located near the city of Schwerin, it was at that time a 27-hole golf venue. The Pon family had fallen in love with this part of the country and wanted to raise the interest level for their course. The facility had space for another nine holes, which was the cue to be straight with them.

My feedback was that if another nine was built, they would possess thirty-six attractive golf holes, not twenty-seven; and not much would change. It was impossible to miss the availability of open terrain and how the majority of the land was suitable, free-draining sand for the development of fescue grasses.

When getting back to them with the results of my study, it seemed reasonable to adopt a bold approach. This involved suggesting they surrender nine of the holes they had built only a few years previously, paving the way for us to create an inland ‘links’ – a course completely different than the beautiful 18-hole parkland layout that they possessed.

The concepts also called for re-routing the entrance road and required a completely new practice facility. Initially, I was concerned that these requirements were overwhelming to them. To my delight, they responded only three days later and said simply that we should get started with the planning.

Clearly, within the rolling rural landscape into which the golf course is set, the Winstonlinks is completely artificial. And it lies about 100 kilometres from the Baltic Sea; but it is easy to forget this fact when you are out playing among the dunes. When meandering through some breath taking terrain you come to realise the course is bereft of dull regions.

We seeded 100% of the course with a blend of three fescue varieties, which is unique in Germany. The only difference between tees, fairways, greens and rough is the height of cut. It was a little nerve-wracking during the growing period, as fescues are notoriously sensitive while they are young. However, we are all extremely pleased with the results; not the least because here exists some of the best year-round putting surfaces in the country.”

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