A Golfing Gem

The “Blue Monster” is Eppan’s top-class golf facility. Lots of water, even more greenery and a breathtaking view make for an unforgettable golfing experience.
“Oh wow, look at this, Lisa. It’s better than my HD television!” says Malcolm J Harrison excitedly, in his best Oxford English. Harrison is the Head Professional at the Freudenstein Castle Golf Club in Eppan, and also at golf course, the “Blue Monster”. Dressed in immaculate golfing attire, the golf instructor holds his hand up to his face, just above his light-blond eyebrows, to shield his eyes from the sun. With a look of intense concentration his gaze follows the path of the golf ball he just sent flying towards the mountains with a powerful swing of his club.

This is one of the most unique backdrops he’s seen in his entire career, he says. It’s difficult to follow the path of the white ball as it flies towards to russet porphyry and the dark green trees. In their dialect, the locals call this steep rock face the “hongetn Stoan”. Yet this view isn’t the only thing golfers can enjoy here on the plains of Eppan. “I love this setting,” says Harrison, grinning broadly. When he turns full circle, his gaze roams over the Meran Texel mountain group across the various castles and manor houses of the area, on to the Bozen valley basin, the Schlerngebiet area, the Rosengarten massif and finally over the Weisshorn and Schwarzhorn peaks to the Gantkofel, Eppan’s local mountain.
The Englishman has been golfing since the age of 10 and is a member of the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association). He can hit balls at a speed of up to 180 km/h (112 mph). He’s a professional through and through, while I’m about as amateur as you can get, but that won’t stop us from hitting a few balls together. And so we are chauffeured in a golf cart from the clubhouse, across the road, and directly onto the course where we get started. Shot by shot we move further away from the teeing ground and closer to the little white flag marking the hole. Even though there are many other golfers out on the course today, you don’t notice the bustle on the Blue Monster. We carry our golf bags across small wooden bridges, past some of the eight lakes and over numerous small green hills, which remind me of waves and Harrison of sand dunes.
Knees slightly bent, arms outstretched, backside out and upper body straight: “You only swing with your shoulders; the power comes from your hips,” the golf pro explains, and with one elegant blow sends the ball flying across the 10,000 square meter green. My first attempts are decidedly clumsy, but that doesn’t seem to bother Harrison. He jokes around and tells me about his hometown of Rugby in England, where golf enjoys the same popularity as skiing does here. Wide paths, no trees and lots of green – that’s what golf courses typically look like where Harrison comes from. The “Blue Monster” is what is known as a links course, which are always modelled on British golf courses.

Yet the president of the Golf & Country Club in Eppan, Alexander Gostner, and the award-winning architect Thomas C. Himmel, didn’t simply want to imitate a traditional golf course in Eppan. Instead, they wanted to let the original terrain speak for itself. The hills of the golf course are on the site of what were originally Eppan’s wetlands. This natural heritage is now reflected in the course’s numerous water hazards, small lakes and rivers, which are home to all sorts of wildlife, including some rare species of birds. The “water aspect” also inspired the golf facility’s name, though of course “Blue Monster” is not just the name of the ninehole course in Eppan, but also of the world-famous green in Miami.
Harrison’s next teeing ground looks like a small platform. It would be the perfect height for picking a few apples from the tree. That’s because the golf course is not just nestled in the mountains, but also surrounded by orchards. If you’re into golfing all season long, you can observe how from the spring buds on the trees transform into sweet fruit in autumn, and how the colors gradually deepen. The golf season, which lasts from March to November, offers ample opportunity to significantly improve your game. That’s especially true for beginners like me. We wrap up the day by rewarding ourselves with some refreshments at the clubhouse.

Text by Maria Lisa Kager
Click here to download the Eppan Magazin. The article start from page 19 on.
Published on 29.05.2020
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