In an appreciation of Bavaria's interesting sights and tourist attractions, giving special prominence to Munich is not particularly original, but essential. The state capital annually registers a total of 14 million nights of tourist accommodation for approximately half as many visitors, which represents nearly 40 percent of Bavaria’s total volume of tourism - and this proportion is rising every year. Munich is not only one of the most popular tourist destinations for long-distance travelers from the USA, China or the Arabic Peninsula, but also for German-speaking visitors. Guests mainly from other parts of Germany, followed by Austria and Switzerland, constitute more than half of the total number of visitors and often choose Munich as the destination for a long weekend or for a stopover while travelling through.
The metropolis with a heart is always worth a visit, and the reasons are plentiful It would far exceed the space that we have available here for me to do justice in detail to all the interesting sights: beautiful buildings, museums, cultural offerings and available leisure options. Just a short selection: whether it’s the Glockenspiel, Viktualienmarkt, Residenz (City Palace), Nymphenburg Palace, Maximilianstraße, the Olympic Park, Englischer Garten, the German Museum, BMW World or the Allianz Arena, just to mention the classic tourist hotspots - Munich’s attractions are vastly impressive. This also includes the surrounding countryside, which boasts ample sporting and leisure opportunities. Directly outside the gates of the city one can enjoy great hikes, mountain climbing, cycling, sailing and - of course - also play a round of golf. And yet the green sport does not seem to play an important role, at least in the public perception or media. Especially if you don't consider the BMW international open, which throws a spotlight on Munich as the location of the tournament by bringing international golfing stars to the city every second year, or the occasional charity golf tournament, which may find its way into the gossip columns of some of our tabloids.
As a golfing destination for tourists, the great city of Munich has so far taken a very modest stance.
This is probably not so much because strictly speaking the golfing options are rather limited in the Bavarian capital. The city actually only boasts two 9-hole courses within the city limits - those at the private Münchner Golf Club in Thalkirchen and the public holes within and around the horse racecourse at München-Riem. Munich is like many other large cities in that the local golf scene extends far beyond the city’s boundaries. This is clearly shown by the fact that the Münchner Kreis, an association of local golf courses stretches as far north as Neuburg an der Donau, to Landshut in the east and extends as far south as Tegernsee or Garmisch-Partenkirchen, covering a considerable portion of Upper Bavaria. To be fair, one has to add that the founders of the association were not primarily interested in expanding their area of authority as far as possible, but rather in allowing discounted green fees at each other’s courses during weekdays to encourage players to get to know other courses - an idea which proved so charming that more and more clubs joined the programme.
Munich offers 26 courses on 23 golf clubs.
Yet apart from some transregional outliers, the golf courses belonging to the Münchner Kreis provide important points of reference in characterizing the Munich golf scene. The first is the number of courses. The association includes 23 facilities with 26 courses, and even if not every potential club has joined the association, the overall picture it paints is illuminating. Depending on how big a radius is drawn around the centre of Munich city, you will find two or three dozen golf courses that can be reached within an hour by car. The second point is the founding of the courses. Most facilities belonging to the Münchner Kreis were established between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s, when golf was experiencing a boom in Munich, as in many other parts of Germany.
Thirdly, there are the locations. Most of the courses were built in the affluent belt surrounding the city - in other words in the numerous smaller districts which prospered economically from an influx of residents. These communities form part of the city’s catchment area due to their connection to the metropolitan train system and continue to sprawl out into the surrounding countryside.
The fourth point is the topography. As these stretches of land have been significantly shaped by agriculture, the terrain of many golf courses - designed on converted farmland - tends to be similar. The terrain is in most cases level with the later addition of trees, bunkers, artificial water traps and natural habitat, paying tribute to the guidelines of environmentalists. Above all, there is plenty of rough along the fairways, making for exciting gameplay on these courses, many of which were individually crafted based on the signature designs of course architects like Rossknecht and Harradine. Even if most of the trees and shrubs planted back then have now reached a loftier height and much of the former farmland has been converted to small landscape parks, the appeal of the gameplay outweighs that of the landscape, which is predominantly level.
The best example of this is Golf Club München Eichenried boasting 27 holes to the north of the city, which has risen to become one of the most famous golf courses in the Greater Munich area as a venue for the BMW International Open. The infrastructure, course design and excellent condition of the championship golf course, which has been continually developed and improved over the years to meet the standards associated with hosting the European Tour event, may not be representative of other courses in the Greater Munich area, but the overall character of the course is. Though it tends to be rather standard fare in terms of its landscape, it offers a worthy challenge, not to mention plenty of variety. The same generally goes for the other pro tournament venues, Golfpark Gut Häusern in the Dachhau hinterland near Markt Indersdorf and Golf Club Wörthsee to the south west, both of which have hosted the Ladies German Open several times. These are both golf courses founded on old farmland, which boast a sophisticated sporting standard and are equally challenging. This also goes for courses like Münchner Golf Eschenried with its 45 holes just on the city limits, the nearby Golf Club Olching with 18, Rottbach with 27 holes and Golf Club Odelzhausen with 18 holes, or the two 18-hole golf courses at Aschheim on the city’s eastern outskirts, Greenhill Golf and Golfpark Aschheim.
Anyone in search of an idyllic setting typical of Bavaria, combined with the right backdrop, will have to leave the city to the south where the Munich gravel plain gradually flows into the hilly landscape of the alpine foothills and the scenery is at times as cutesy as if taken right out of TV shows like Rosenheim Cops. Along the A95 towards Garmisch, for example, you’ll find golf gems like the Riedhof, Beuerberg or St. Eurach golf clubs whose unique combination of old trees and picture-perfect surroundings make for enjoyable rounds of golf, even on days when your game is not up to par. Anyone who takes the turnoff to the lake can play one of Germany’s most beautiful parkland courses at the Feldafing Golf Club, located directly on the lake. There you can go for a quick dip after a round of golf to let off some steam if your score didn’t turn out the way you would have liked - which is not a seldom occurrence on this challenging course, due to its many trees and tricky greens. Two other appealing 18-hole courses, Gut Rieden and Golf Club Starnberg, are located nearby.
Further to the south east along the A8 to Salzburg, you’ll find Golfclub Egmating, a well-kept 18-hole course with gently undulating fairways, not to mention a beautiful panorama as well as the Münchner Golf Club in the bordering suburb of Straßlach, Bavaria’s oldest golf club and one of its most impressive. The course designed in a parkland style boasts 27 holes and was redesigned by American golf course architect Perry O. Dye in 2006. The Münchner Golf Club was founded in 1910 when a handful of golf enthusiasts of Bavarian, English and American origin joined together. Back then, golfers played on 9 holes located in the district of Freimann; but in wartime the grounds were annexed and, in 1950, they found a new location in the southern district of Thalkirchen near the Isar river and the Tierpark (the city zoo). The nine holes are a located mere five kilometres from Marienplatz (the centre-point of Munich city) as the crow flies, making the course a kind of city branch of the Münchner Golf Club, and comprise a delightful treasure-chest of a course boasting lush Munich greens.