Waldsee Golf-Resort impresses with the diversity of the landscape

The original pictures from 1996 are unspectacular: a lot of wide arable land where the start of the New Course of the Princely Golf Resort Bad Waldsee, member of the hotels on the golf course, is today. Finally a gravel pit – not a pretty sight. Two small optical loosening up were the only appeal 25 years ago: A little beech forest where the tees 9, 11 and 18 are today, and a small forest stretch next to the gravel group.

“Golf courses are also about landscapes and we have a good mix of them here,” says Prof. Martin Elsäßer today. The lecturer from the University of Hohenheim, who is a member of the environmental committee of the Baden-Württemberg Golf Association, now knows every little corner of the New Course very well: the meadow orchard right next to the entrance. The terrain at hole 12, which to him “looks like a Finnish forest”. It looks light now in March, but a few more weeks and the first peculiarities will become apparent. “There’s also the Red Forest Bird,” he says, just one of the 15 species of orchids that are on the Red List and can be found here on the golf course.

The gravel pit has become a species-rich habitat

The golf course is a phenomenon for Alsatians: the large excavated gravel pit with a part of the floodplain offers an extremely barren, dry and hot habitat in its entrance area with piles of gravel and stones. A loch further along the shores of the lake there are numerous aquatic plants; Toads and frogs use the specially created transitions to the water.

“And in just a few weeks we will have cowslips all over the place,” Elsäßer sums up. The numerous areas of nutrient-poor grassland, that were also planned when the course was built, have developed splendidly.

On the plan (Himmel Golf Design) the raw floor corridor can be seen in yellow, which connects large areas of the course++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For Alsatians, biodiversity means the variety that can be seen and experienced here on the site. The colours and different plants are documented using a nature trail, which is now particularly appreciated by day trippers. Sometimes, according to Elsäßer, Red List species even have to be protected. One or the other walker also has a garden tool in hand to cut out an orchid and take it home.

The right combination of sports field and living space

Elsäßer is a golfer himself, he knows that harmony must be created between the golfers and the efforts of the “golf course habitat” project to increase biodiversity. Which means in practice: the course must be playable and balls must be easy to find. In the end, good cooperation with greenkeeping is a prerequisite.

In Michael Schinnenburg he has found a perfect local contact. The head greenkeeper is himself a first-class golfer, has a lot of experience from other courses, and appreciates the combination of sports field and nature in the Waldsee Golf-Resort. Apart from the pure playing areas, eight hectares of water and 16 hectares of meadows come into play on the two 18-hole golf courses “New and Old Course” and a 9-hole short course. It is a huge site that covers a total of 250 hectares. 4.5 hectares were left for the meadow orchard alone.

The challenge for Schinnenburg is, on the one hand, to deliver top course quality throughout the entire season, but on the other hand to achieve good results with the most sustainable care possible. He goes through the areas on the pitch that are not in play and are considered extensive areas together with Elsäßer. Tees, fairways and greens have priority in the work, not all of the bush clearing or maintenance work on the extensive areas is always possible immediately. That’s one of the reasons, why Elsäßer is standing in early March in a drying room area with gravel and a few pine trees, where the first orchids with small leaves are also appearing on the ground, and is thinking about sheep. The grass between the trees is much too high. “This would actually be a perfect area for sheep,” he says. They are an ideal partner for keeping the grass short, and they take a lot of work away from the greenkeepers. At the moment, however, they are just an idea here in Bad Waldsee.

In any case, they would fit into the concept. The different landscapes of the golf course have long been known in the region and among hotel guests. Mountain bikers, joggers and walkers appreciate the natural landscape on the golf course just as much as the golfers themselves. The variety of colors and shapes is dazzling – this also significantly reduces the shock of one or the other unsuccessful shot.