„The highlight is the landscape”
Interview with Golf course architect Christian Althaus
Mister Althaus, most of the people who view the Golf course at the Hofgut Georgenthal are impressed and say: “This course is amazing.” Why is this course so charming?
Christian Althaus: In fact it is a fantastic course, a little bit like an amphitheatre together with the Hofgut centred in the middle. It is a great location which offers amazing views over the landscape. The play-strategy and the aesthetic design as well as the many striking details render the course unique. Each track is different. Therefore you will reach a huge remembrance of the tracks, which is used as an essential quality criterion in the evaluation
of golf courses. In addition, we have committed ourselves to ecological aspects and pursued the idea of sustainability.
In the meantime the word “sustainable” has become something like a buzzword. What does “sustainable” mean in relation to a golf course?
For us, this means working with grasses and plants that are native to the region and grow ideally there with little effort. We have to hand something back to the landscape.
What does this mean?
The drainage ditches, for example, have turned once again into meandering, natural creeks with numerous water plants.
How do you actually approach the task of building a new golf course?
It’s a bit like painting the landscape. I observe the landscape: Which vegetation is native here? Which materials do I discover? And afterwards I try to work with this information and to develop a natural overall composition. For me, the guideline is: the star is the landscape.
Special themes were captured in Georgenthal. What are these?
Three themes have been visualised: the Limes, the orchard plants and the water. The Limes, the historical border of the Roman Empire, which traverses right through the middle of the site, was made visible with the planting of sorb trees.
These trees, from whose fruits, by the way, cider is made, were brought to our region by the Romans. In autumn we will plant these trees along the border on the golf course.
Moreover, there is also a meadow orchard?
Yes. We have planted one hundred orchard trees in several areas of the course: apples, pears, mirabelles, plums, quinces. Out of their fruits native products shall be produced and offered in the court shop of the hotel.
How did you integrate the water theme into the course?
By means of the natural-looking creeks and the eight water obstacles. From them, we also obtain the water with which we irrigate the fairways.
What can be expected by the Golfers when playing the course?
Basically, our design addresses to golfers of all levels. We have avoided frontal obstacles, whether pond or bunker. Instead, we always offer a safe route that allows you to play around the obstacle if the path seems to be longer. I like golf courses that don’t open up on the first round, I like Golf courses you want to play again after the first time. That’s why the greens and their surroundings show strikingly, varied contours which offer a wide range of stroke alternatives. Therefore the short game is more important than sheer length. I wanted to design a course that people would remember and come back to. Looking hard, playing easy.
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