Brandon TuckerThis Week at June 26, 2008

Germans getting into the swing of golf, as courses from Berlin to Hamburg beckon

BERLIN, Germany - There's a fantastic practice facility at the Golf & Country Club Fleesensee just outside Berlin, complete with an enormous, circular driving range, several practice greens and two par-3 courses - all the elements needed to shore up your game.

It's a good thing, because Germans are pretty crummy golfers.

Of course, I'm no scratch stick myself and my grip is stronger than a double-shot of European espresso. But I've seen some pretty horrific golf swings this trip. One poor sap would stop at the top of his backswing for about two seconds, completely still, before heaving his entire body at the ball as hard as he could. I've seen bumper cars more in control than some of these players' backswing.

I could keep going ...

But the good news is that Germans are taking to golf. They've always been an active, outdoorsy set like most Europeans, but golf has considered a game for the old and wimpy. That's changing slowly, thanks in part to some German soccer players who have been seen with a golf club in their hands.

Today, many corporate retreats at resorts like Treudelberg in Hamburg partake in "Schnuppers," which are three-hour introductions into the golf swing. For many of these middle-aged men and women, it's the first time they've touched a club. The good news is that the Germans are already doing some things as well as the Scots or Americans. They play at a brisk pace, hustling up the fairway with great speed, even if they are taking plenty of whacks. The conditions and facilities of the golf courses I saw this week were all just as good as your average resort course in the States.

You might think the golf courses in Germany would be easy given the relative immaturity of the golfing population, but in fact, they're pretty tough. The American resort-style golf where fairways are wider than a football field hasn't made it here yet.

German courses are good enough for players from more golf-spoiled nations to play. They're not good enough to cancel your golf trip to Scotland or Portugal, but if you want to stay at some beautiful resorts on the Baltic Sea, or tour lively cities like Hamburg and Berlin with some golf in between, you won't leave disappointed.

And even though for most of the world, the Euro exchange rate isn't all that favorable, chances are you can probably win back a few bucks if you challenge a local to a match.

As always, welcomes your comments.

That Dog Will Hunt

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