Berliner Golf and Country Club Motzener See e. V. celebrated its 20th anniversary in June 2013, which coincided with the opening of a new 9-hole loop created out of virgin Brandenburg forest. Our Public Relations Manager, Peter Driver, visited the club earlier this year to speak to long serving head greenkeeper Bodo Bredow about the 27-hole golf complex situated just 30 minutes from the centre of Berlin.
Golf in the Brandenburg forest, just 30 minutes from central Berlin
The course was designed by Kurt Rossknecht, one of Germany’s most prolific golf course architects with more than 40 courses to his name constructed across Austria, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. His portfolio includes the three 18-hole courses at Arabella Golf on the island of Mallorca and five 18-hole, three 9-hole and two 6-hole courses at Golf Resort Bad Griesbach in Bavaria.
Construction work began in May 1991 with the 9-hole
executive course open for play in August 1992. The 18-hole championship course opened three months later and the official opening took place in the newly completed clubhouse in June 1993. It has hosted four German Masters events, in 1994 and 1995, when the competition was sponsored by Mercedes and in 1996 and 1997, when Linde were the sponsors. Today the club boasts 850 members of which 60 are juniors.
Berliner Golf and Country Club is operated by the CCA group. CCA, through its global club network ‘International Associate Clubs’, has an involvement with 250 exclusive clubs worldwide. CCA properties include city business clubs, city athletic clubs, country clubs, golf and country clubs, health spas and resort clubs.
Founded in 1982 by Dieter R. Klostermann, CCA’s current Chairman and CEO, the group has sold more than 70,000 club memberships and has raised over US$800 million in membership funds and over US$600 million in real estate sale. It operates in 15 countries including England, where it owns the prestigious London Capital Club and Brocket Hall, an exclusive 36-hole private golf club and conference centre in addition to the acclaimed Auberge du Lac restaurant.
The head greenkeeper and his course
Bodo Bredow joined Berliner Golf and Country Club during the grow-in period in 1992 and was promoted to head greenkeeper in 1996. He leads a team of 14 including a mechanic during the golfing season, which reduces to four in the winter months.
The course sits within a 160 hectare grass and forested estate with 60 hectares of managed turf plus 30 hectares of rough ground. The greens are sown with Penncross agrostis with the tees and fairways a mix of fescue and agrostis.
With the opening of the new 9 holes in 2013, the facility now consists of three 9-hole sections imaginatively titled A, B and C. Loop A consists entirely of old holes on the former 18-hole course; loop B utilises four holes on the old course and five new holes with loop C using four new holes and five old holes on the back nine of the old course. The new 9 holes have been created out of 45 hectares of virgin forest, with just 17 hectares devoted to golf course.
“We seeded the new holes in 2012 and opened in June 2013,” said Bodo “but I accept that it was a little too early. We closed during the mild spring of 2014 to help the density of grass cover and that has worked for us.
New nine-hole loop
“When we were planning the new holes I worked very closely with Kurt Rossknecht and I had professional input into the finally accepted design. The greens have enough light due to the extensive removal and thinning of trees in areas related to the passage of the sun. This has removed any possibly agronomic issues associated with shade.
“Brandenburg is the most forested area of Germany and tree removal was a major part of the construction process. On average we removed 10,000 trees per hectare; that’s 170,000 in total. We sold the timber and this was re-invested in the construction of the golf course. We have no rough in this forest loop, the trees form the natural boundary to the fairways.”
I asked Bodo what his favourite hole on the course was and his reply came instantly. “C4 is my favourite,” he said, “because it goes from the highest to lowest point in the forest; it looks narrow but is deceptively wide as you get closer. We have strategically placed bunkers, which also come into play and the green is guarded by a large pond.”
I noticed an electric fence running around the perimeter and asked if that was to keep animals off the course. “Yes,” said Bodo, “the entire perimeter is fenced off to protect from the intrusion by wild boar and deer; the boar are very resourceful and sometimes break through the fence causing extensive damage.”
Extensive water features
The original flat landscape had to be transformed back in 1992 to create the character of an inland links. This was achieved through the construction of a large feature lake, a water course running through the facility and linking several large ponds and the sowing of wild flower meadows. In all, water is pumped 2.5 km to the far side before cascading around the course through streams and small lakes.
The links style has been compromised over the years, with various club managers having had their input and trees have been planted which have altered the character of the course. With the rough growing to 700mm in high summer, it plays entirely differently from spring to autumn. The typical northern European climate is mainly mild; but in winter frosts can go down -25°C.
The course has irrigation on all greens, tees and fairways with water coming from an on-site bore hole. The large feature lake mentioned earlier comes into play on three holes of loop C; on the first, which is virtually an island green, the 7th and on the final hole of this loop, hole 9. Divers recover in excess of 80,000 lost golf balls a year from the water hazards around the course
Turf maintenance fleet
Ransomes Jacobsen equipment forms the majority of the turf maintenance machinery used by Bodo and his team and has been purchased from Golf Tech, based in Munster.
He currently has four Jacobsen PGM 22 pedestrian greens mowers, an Eclipse 322 diesel-electric hybrid greens mower with another on order, two LF 570 light fairway mowers and one of its predecessors, the LF 3800. For the semi-rough he uses an AR 522 and a R311T for the higher rough areas. Tees and surrounds are maintained with a Tri-King and he has five utility vehicles, two Cushman Haulers, two E-Z-GO MPTs and a new Cushman Turf Truckster.
Bodo also has the first Jacobsen AR722 to be sold into Germany; this new contour rotary mower, which was launched into Europe in March this year, features seven 56 cm rotary cutting decks and a 3.2 metre cutting width. Bodo first saw the mower when it was previewed at Demopark last year, before testing it here and eventually purchasing the machine.
Most of the equipment was delivered in autumn 2013 and commenting on his decision to purchase the Eclipse 322, he said, “This is the latest technology for mowing greens; because it uses electric power there is no hydraulic system, so no chance of an oil spill. It’s also much quieter than a standard diesel powered hydraulic mower, which is good because we have a restriction on our mowing times at weekends due to the proximity of local housing and cannot begin maintenance before 8.00 am.
“The other significant benefit is the ability to change the number of cuts per metre that the machine can do. Once this is programmed into the mower it cuts every green exactly the same, ensuring consistency of the putting surfaces for our members and visitors. At present we have set this to match the frequency of cut (FOC) of our Toro greens mower, but when our second Eclipse is delivered we’ll see what the optimum FOC is and set both Eclipses to the same setting.
“I’m also considering purchasing tees cutting units for both machines; I could then change the FOC to accommodate the reduced number of blades on the tees cylinders and it will give me more flexibility if I lost the use of the Tri-King for some reason. That’s another reason why I made the decision to purchase the Eclipse.”
Completing the machinery fleet is a Turfco top dresser and from Smithco a bunker rake, Tournament Ultra greens roller and a Spray Star 2000 with GPS for highly accurate fertiliser and chemical distribution. The club also operates 12 golf cars; a mix of E-Z-GO RXVs and TXTs.
As I was saying farewell to Bodo and his team, I noticed what looked like a very ancient Cushman Turf Truckster in the maintenance facility. Quickly extracting my camera from its bag, I took a couple of photos. It was built in 1991, making it 23 years old and had over 10,000 hours on the clock.
“Excellent multi-purpose machine,” said Bodo, “Great turning circle with only one wheel at front and it’s still running!”