At the Club zur Vahr nestles one of the more renowned courses in Germany due to having hosted the German Open in 1985, one of several occasions when Bernhard Langer won the trophy.
Club zur Vahr has a 9-hole course in the city of Bremen, called Vahr, and the full 18-hole championship layout at Garlstedt, a 20-minute drive north of the city centre. Established in 1905, the club once promoted a wide range of sports including athletics, polo, cricket and rugby. These were all suspended at the end of the war in 1945 when the club grounds were taken over by US forces, but the club was brought back under German control in 1952.
Nowadays, Club zur Vahr confines its sporting activities to hockey, tennis, skeet shooting and, of course, golf. The Bernhard von Limburger-designed Garlstedt course dates back to 1963.
According to The World Atlas of Golf, “the
course occupies 220 acres in thickly forested, undulating countryside... It is
dominated by pine trees, tall and dense, crowding in from tee to green,
controlling play on holes which bend narrowly to generally small targets. The
strategic effect of the forest was such that it was necessary to construct only
twenty-four bunkers... Since its completion, the Garlstedter course has
commanded respect from all who have played there and appreciated its
Unfortunately the club has always struggled with moisture in the fairways, which led to frequent delays in tournaments and ultimately cost Garlstedter Heide its status as a fixture on the professional circuit. A 2004 renovation by Christoph Städler improved the situation around the greens and bunkers, but the general nature of the sticky soil is obviously still a factor and tree management remains an on-going challenge.
The presentation of the course is first class and the club's ambitions to be a leading venue are very apparent. It's a classic Bernhard von Limburger design, too, but I still find it hard to elevate it over and above "nice".
There is a bit of variation in the design, in fact a surprising amount for a tree-lined course, but ultimately there is no denying that the playing corridors do not flow naturally, but were carved out of the forest. The sixth and seventh hole and to a lesser extent the second are on more open terrain and impress with alternate fairways offering discrete playing strategies. Thankfully the wooded holes feature wide fairways for the most part, but there isn't terribly much going on between tee and green. Fairway bunkers are few and far between and the undulations as soft as the soil.
The length is certainly above average, mainly thanks to six par 5s, but there are also a bunch of long par 4s and par 3s. All of those holes connect effortlessly and even the walk across the parking lot between #9 and #10 is tolerable. This is one occasion where majestic, old trees actually provide enjoyment. (UM)
One of the best parkland courses in Germany and Europe. The course is very varied, sometimes narrow landing zones, and tight fairways. The greens are rather shallow but very nice to play. Visually, the course is outstanding and offers a real challenge in terms of strategy. For a place of this class, the club demands a very moderate green fee and also the club restaurant is highly recommended. Definitely a must play and worth the trip!