Hamburger GolfClub was founded way back in 1906 and in those days the club played over a nine-hole course at Flottbek. It must have been a fine course, because in 1910, Flottbek was the venue for the inaugural German Open Championship. But, as golf grew in popularity, the nine-hole course became crowded and new land was eventually found at Falkenstein. In 1930 a new 18-hole course for the Hamburger Golf Club was ready for play and it’s an absolute masterpiece from the brilliant design firm of Colt, Alison and Morrison.
The majority of the original layout remains intact but the great German designer Bernhard von Limburger made a few alterations in the 1960s, adding a couple of holes (at the 2nd and 3rd) at the expense of losing a couple of others.
Hamburger Golfclub Falkenstein is a glorious, natural course that is laid out on undulating heathland and, as we all know, this sandy free-draining ground is perfect for golf. Falkenstein was originally developed as a championship course and between 1935 and 1999 it became a regular venue for the German Seniors Championship. Falkenstein also played host to the German Open on no fewer than eight occasions and, in 1981, the club was delighted to see Bernhard Langer triumph here (the first German to win the national open).
Falkenstein is an attractive course, which is routed in all directions of the compass. The wooded location provides a genteel oasis to play golf, away from the hustle and bustle of Hamburg’s city centre. While tree-lined courses often have dull highway-like holes, here only the 2nd and 11th are relatively straight and that is just the right amount of diversion on a course full of doglegs and interest. Every hole presents a unique challenge, the bunkering is vintage Colt (with some modern alterations) and the green complexes provide great entertainment without going overboard.
There certainly are some hills to conquer and valleys to drive over, but it remains walkable and, for the championship minded golfer, completely fair. The maintenance practices are to be commended – so often these historic courses are allowed to overgrow and play soft when trees and rough replace the heather and block the original playing angles. Not here at Falkenstein, this is a firm and fast experience like no other in Germany.