A short man with gray hair stands behind the bar pouring a fresh beer. What else would you expect here in Upper Franconia? After all, this region has the highest density of breweries in the world. Konrad Messingschlager, once a chicken farmer, runs the club house at the Fränkische Schweiz golf course. The farming business wasn’t faring too well back in the 1970s, so he decided to become a golf pro. He then used his tractor to level his land and make way for three golf holes in the little hamlet of Kanndorf by Ebermannstadt. This eventually led to the founding of the Fränkische Schweiz golf club in 1974. Three more holes were created a short time later and by the early 1980s, the course had a total of nine holes. With the help of an architect, the next three were completed by 1987. Messingschlager also runs his own bed & breakfast on the side. The family-owned business welcomes guests with 17 rooms and even offers homemade schnapps and liqueurs from its very own distillery.
A mere 47 residents live in about a dozen homes making up the community of Kanndorf, where everyone has a hand in golf one way or another - for instance, as co-owner of the course or greenkeeper. Some of the holes run right through the little village and, during the round, players also traverse the (only) street or walk through the orchards. The course was also the first one in Germany to be given the title “umweltgerechter Golfplatz” (environmentally-friendly golf course) because it blends in so harmoniously with the surrounding countryside. Anyone familiar with the course is sure to agree with the locals that it resembles a miniature of Franconian Switzerland: gentle rolling hills complete with forest and meadows, fields and apple trees. The term “rural idyll” describes the course perfectly.
Only a few minutes away at the Kathi-Bräu, the coasters proudly proclaim "For your health, we recommend Kathi's lager beer”. The hotel and brewery, complete with its own beer garden, is a popular destination thanks to its tasty, affordably priced beer and down-to-earth, natural, sincere atmosphere. In other words, there are more than a few reasons to make the journey to discover the region between Bayreuth, Bamberg and Coburg - not to mention ten golf courses all within a radius of no more than 60 kilometres. Well over half of them are on par with Bavaria’s leading golf courses. With only the exception of Tambach (GC Coburg), all of the other clubs - Thurnau (GC Oberfranken), Pottenstein (GC Pottenstein-Weidenloh), Breitengüßbach (GC Bamberg) and Kanndorf (GC Fränkische Schweiz) - are situated in or bordering on the Franconian Switzerland Nature Reserve. Here, you won’t find any industry or noisy roads. As for the courses, Tambach included, they have been carefully embedded in the surrounding countryside.
The topography is more (GC Bamberg) or less (GC Pottenstein) hilly with typical forest and pasture grassland, while water is mostly limited to natural habitat or ditches. The karst (limestone) soil in the Fraconian Jura ensures fast natural drainage of rain water, while a number of grass varieties all flourish. The occasional green might be a bit slow, but they are on par with the Bavarian average. In most cases, the club houses have been kept simple, but still offer all the essentials. The Oberfranken golf course in Thurnau, on the other hand, earns an honourable mention, considering that a tender was conducted amongst architects in connection with its design. The green fees are between 45 und 60 euros, which in some places would only be enough for a half a round of golf. To top it off, tee times simply don’t exist in Upper Franconia.
All in all, this explains why cars with Munich number plates are a common sight in the parking lots of Upper Franconia’s clubs. Enjoy a few rounds of golf in peace without a fuss or crowds, not to mention a hearty serving of Franconian cuisine at a relatively affordable price, washed down with one of the region’s famous beers - what more could one want?
Speaking of beer: Those interested in learning more about this famous beverage are encouraged to make the trip to Mahr's Bräu hotel and brewery in Bamberg, founded in 1670. There, regulars pass their traditional Halbekrug mugs through a hatch, calling out: “Ein U!”. Scarcely 20 seconds later, a mug full of freshly poured, unbunged (from an open cask) and unfiltered, naturally cloudy beer emerges. The old brewery has reached cult status and attracts widespread attention from well beyond its borders - at Meininger’s International Craft Beer Awards 2017, beers from Mahr’s Bräu won two golds and two silvers.
breweries can be found in the small city of Bamberg. In the area there are up to 70.
Bamberg itself is home to ten breweries, while almost 70 can be found in the district surrounding the town. It is said that there are over 200 breweries in Upper Franconia. As mentioned previously, this is indeed a world record! Finding your favourite beer here could be a life-long undertaking. One should definitely at least try the “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier” in Bamberg’s old town. The brewery tavern in Dominikanerstraße is as much an institution as Munich’s Hofbräuhaus. And anyone interested in taking in the best view of the Unesco world heritage town of Bamberg is well advised to visit the beer garden of the Greifenglau on the Kaulberg.
The tasty cuisine at the Drei Kronen hotel and brewery lures Bamberg’s locals a few kilometres out of town to Memmelsdorf, where the specialities include: “Stöffla”, “Hefe-Pils” and “Lager”. In the courtyard, alongside the brewery’s age-old brick building, guest rooms are also on offer, making it the perfect destination for weary golfers. After all, the Bamberg golf course in Breitengüßbach is just six kilometres away, as the crow flies. Following a challenging round of golf, players are sometimes relieved to know that the nearest hotel or bed & breakfast accommodation is just around corner. Perhaps the most challenging course in Upper Franconia, it is ‘feared’ not only for its steep climbs, but also its hanging fairways.
Just three long fairway drives from Drei Kronen awaits the spectacular Seehof Palace with its large park and Neptune fountain boasting striking sculptures. Upper Franconia is blessed with an abundance of cultural treasures: the Bamberger Cathedral, the Old Town Hall, the Banz Abbey, the fabled Baroque Basilica of the Fourteen Helpers, Pommersfelden Palace, Pottenstein Castle, the Pilgrimage Church in Gößweinstein, the town hall square in Forchheim, the palaces of Bayreuth, the Hermitage, the Margrave Opera House or the Festival Hall to name only the most well-known.
Those travelling to Bayreuth and the surrounding area during “Wagner season” from mid-July to the end of August should be sure to reserve their accommodation in good time. That’s when the city is full of festival guests, a growing number of whom play a round of golf in the morning before attending an opera later in the afternoon. In the evening, following the performance, a number of Wagner fans are always drawn to Bayreuth’s old town for a couple of beers - for example, to the traditional, rustic Wolffenzacher or the Oskar, the town’s popular hot spot. The long bar, the sheltered conservatory and small, cosy booths hum with activity. There, you’ll find both jeans and tailcoats. During the festival season, the young people of the town stand shoulder to shoulder with older visitors dressed in suits or evening gowns - all enjoying the fresh supply of “Oskar Hell” or aromatic “Dampfbier” on tap.
© Intermag Publishing/Michael Möser