WIESBADEN, Germany - A two-year, $1,457,681 Non-Appropriated Fund project to greatly enhance Wiesbaden's Rheinblick Golf Course will raise the overall course standards for all players, according to Mark Smith, Rheinblick Golf Course manager.
"With all of the investments we're putting into the Rheinblick Golf Course we're raising the standards to be comparable to a private club," said Smith. He described past projects to convert holes from three to four tees, construction of a brand new car storage building capable of housing the entire fleet of 80 golf cars, golf club locker storage room expansion, landscaping, better irrigation and improved golf car paths. Current work includes reconstructing all existing greens to U.S. Golf Association standards, renovating fairways and various other improvements to the course and facilities.
"Since 1997 to 2011, we've reinvested $9.2 million NAF dollars in various projects to improve the facility," Smith said. "We are reinvesting those monies that we earn at this facility and then some."
Pointing out that with Rheinblick having been originally constructed in the mid-1950s on a former military training area, the greens were built to old standards. "In the past push-up greens were crowned to allow for surface water to drain and no internal drainage. Any green has a lifespan of about 50 years," Smith said.
"One can't take an old established golf course and cookie cut a new green in -- you have to rework the area around the green as well. This entire area is referred to as the green complex, and that is what we are doing," he said. "In redoing the greens they will be built in such a way as to be more receptive to shots for both high and low handicaps as a result of having fewer blind shots leading to the greens. Rheinblick will always remain a challenging golf course, but there are ways we can make it more receptive to higher handicapping."
Improved greens and tees provides all players with greater fair play, he said.
With improved drainage and other features, the greens will also offer a "slightly longer playing season," Smith said. "Before when the greens didn't drain, they became saturated after a good long rain. This will provide longer playability through spring and fall."
Where in the past Rheinblick saw an average of 28,000 rounds of golf per year, following the expected completion of renovation efforts in 2013, the course will be able to handle 40,000 rounds per year, the manager said.
"This golf course is very popular. We're known to be a very challenging golf course -- and that's part of the attraction along with the beautiful views and mature trees surrounding each hole," Smith said.
Golf enthusiasts can continue to enjoy the features offered at Rheinblick throughout the project which began Sept. 19, Smith said, explaining that work is proceeding in two phases -- nine holes at a time. "We're also improving two practice greens as well."
"We will continue to offer nine holes of play throughout the construction project. We're currently working on the back nine which are expected to reopen in August 2012," he said. "Our goal is to run with 18 holes -- nine old and nine new -- for about a month -- and then start on the front nine holes in September 2012.
"We want people to understand that having the nine holes, they can play those nine often as they'd like," Smith said. "We did it this way because we didn't want to close down the entire course during the construction work."
Another ongoing project which will start in December will provide more conference space at the Rheinblick facility. "It will increase the number of conferences we can accommodate here," said Smith.
Self-help projects are seeing additional improvements. "We're doing them while the holes are closed," he said, explaining that "maintaining family tees -- the furthest forward -- helps promote fast play" and keeps beginning players moving on the course. "Kids can also play from those tees. The goal is to provide a facility where everyone in the family can come out and have fun."
The Rheinblick Golf Course manager advised all players to continue to call in advance to reserve playing times, especially while construction work is in progress. "We ask that they give all of the names of the players in the group when they make reservations because the starting times are dedicated to those people."
For more information about golf and other features of the Rheinblick Golf Course, located just past Frauenstein in the Taunus foothills, call the Pro Shop at civ (0611) 505 92717.