Golfclub Seefeld-Wilmoos: Happy 50th anniversary
A round is usually rarely played alone and yet golf is an eternal game against oneself. Hardly any sport teaches more humility and at the same time is so incredibly beautiful. What often seems so effortless and light, is in reality hellishly difficult. It is a high art to sink the tiny ball with a “plop” into a tiny hole. “Golf is not a matter of life and death. Golf is more,” say the Scots.
This article is a translation from the current summer issue of the magazine zeit.los. A story about how the golf came to the Olympiaregion Seefeld. And how it has formed the plateau and its guests ever since.
Golfclub Seefeld-Wildmoos celebrates its birthday
The golf club Seefeld-Wildmoos is a very special one of its kind. And this year it will be 50 years old. Or young, however you see it. As a winter sports region, the Plateau has always been widely known, but people had to learn first that is is also really beautiful here in the summer. Marc Hodler recognized it and it may almost seem a little ironic that it was a winter sportsman of all people. Hodler was president of the World Ski Federation at the time, when he thought that the terrain was also ideal for a golf course. Originally, the FIS President had come to Tyrol in 1963 to see the course for the Olympic cross-country skiing competition. It may have been a coincidence that he had discovered the future location of the Seefeld golf course incidentally, but at least it was a beautiful one. A few years passed before the first balls were hit in Wildmoos, just outside Seefeld. This was mainly thanks to Walter Frenes, then tourism director and still honorary president of the club today.
The search for the best spot
Donald Harradine, Englishman and one of the few truly renowned golf course architects in Europe, was hired to design the course. All of a sudden everything went very quickly with him. Harradine came to Seefeld in 1967 to search for the ideal terrain. Four came into the closer selection, whereby three were rejected again for different reasons. The area between Seefeld and Mösern seemed too boring for Harradine, a planned project on the Wildmoosalm turned out to be too expensive and in Neuleutasch land negotiations became an unsolvable problem. Wildmoos was the best of all options. And despite some setbacks, the Seefeld-Wildmoos Golf Club was founded in 1969. Among other things, a continuous rain washed away both the first fairway and the tee and the tenth hole had to be sown three times. But the main problem was the greens and they still are today. It is already a great feat to bring them through the long winter and to ensure a proper spring awakening. In 1970 the first six holes could finally be played, in 1971 the first nine and in the autumn of the same year the locals played all 18 for the first time. Only one year later a sports champion tournament was held on the course, with stars such as Toni Sailer, Bernhard Russi, Christian Neureuther, Bubi Scholz or Armin Hary swinging the golf clubs. Even former governor Eduard Wallnöfer became a golf fan.
Golf changed the summer on the plateau. A real run began, also because there were no alternatives in the region. The course itself did and does the rest, because it is really special. “We had unbelievable tournaments,” says the current president Andrea Hoch-Sarnthein, looking back. “We didn’t have as many starting places as participants.” In the course of the 50th anniversary she tries to understand the history of the club accurately, which is not so easy because there is no chronicle. She also collects the historical pictures with patience and meticulousness.
Fresh winds in the club
The golf club is just getting back. After the initial euphoria has subsided, the club has stepped a little on the spot. The driving investments were missing. The anniversary is a welcome occasion to make the club and the course more attractive again. “Our goal is to get back to where we once were”, Andrea Hoch-Sarnthein is optimistic. “We want to address more families, rejuvenate the club.” This is to succeed by an extremely attractive offer: In the anniversary year the admission fee is lowered from 5.000 to 50 euro. Children and young people play free of charge up to the age of 18, 18 to 25-year-olds pay no admission fee and receive a reduction of the annual game and club house maintenance fee (together regularly 1,150 euros) by half. “In the past, you had to pay half the registration fee at the age of 26 to become a full member. After all, that was 2,500 euros. At this point we lost many,” Hoch-Sarnthein sums up. Now this is automatic and if the partner also plays golf, he receives a discount of 25 percent on the annual fee. The really low annual fee is already bearing fruit: the number of children in the club has doubled from 20 to 40. “In order to keep the children playing golf, the parents also have to play. We would also like to accommodate them with the reduced admission fee. We have to build up our clientele from below.”
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How a film introduced her to golfing…
The story how Andrea Hoch-Sarnthein herself came to play golf is almost as exciting as the story about the golf course. In 1969 the film “The Last Valley” was shot around the castle Schloss Schneeberg, where she lived with her family. In addition to the main actors Michael Caine and Omar Sharif, the Swede Per Oscarsson, who started playing golf in the castle park, was also there. “We were very curious as children and soon noticed that he used a different club for each stroke. That fascinated me even then. I never thought I would be president of a golf club exactly 50 years later,” says Andrea Hoch-Sarnthein. The fact that she herself started to play still took her 30 years, but she still does it with a lot of passion: “Whether you go out early in the morning, at noon or in the evening: the course always changes. Every round is different, you’ll never play the ball in the same place.”
Golfing among giants
What the President likes about Wildmoos? It starts with the drive to the golf course. One drives on a narrow road through the forest and wonders if one is still right here. “We put up several signs because people think they’re all wrong.” They are not. You drive to the parking lot, go to the clubhouse and see the Eighteen. “It gets really fascinating when you play up the One, the cannon barrel. And then the square opens up, you can see how everything rises,” enthuses Hoch-Sarnthein and it almost sounds a little as if she was pleased at the same time that her plan to bring the square right back to the front is working. It is already a leading golf course. And rightly so. But that is something that needs to be defended. Again and again. “You need a strategy for the course, otherwise it will repel you,” she continues. “But he also helps you.”
Then comes the Nine. It was Donald Harradine’s favourite hole. His son Peter will speak at the reception for the Golf Week on the 4th of July. “You play the Nine from above, that’s the last hole before you return to the clubhouse. You play down and the ball flies and flies and flies. That’s the beauty: whether you have a good shot or a bad one: The ball always flies”. The second nine holes are challenging, the Ten is a steep climb. You’re standing at the tee and can’t see the green. “At the Fourteen there’s a big rock on the right, you play forwards and then it goes down steeply like a descent. You see a barn.” Yes, the barns. They accompany you everywhere. Just like the mountains and the breathtaking view into the Karwendel. And into the Stubai Alps. You can see the mountain Hohe Munde slipping into your field of vision again and again. When you see it, you see its beauty. “I can still see it all,” says Andrea Hoch-Sarnthein. “There are many golfers who only play for the sake of sport, who get angry about bad shots but no longer see nature.” But exactly that nature is what reconciles them with everything else.
This story is from an article of the magazine zeit.los. You can find the full magazines with many more stories online!
Fotos: Stephan Elsler