Here at Leadingcourses we’re all about the golfer. Back in the day (2007 to be exact) we seen the need for a service that provides information on the best golf courses to play all around the world. We weren’t talking about the usual, over-produced reports on the same top 10 golf courses that you hear from every Tom, Dick and Harry. We wanted real insights from real golfers. Golfers that play the inconspicuous, ordinary and unknown golf courses of this world. The courses you didn’t even know you wanted to play… but you do! Our site is built on the reviews and insights of golfers like you, that play their local course, tell others about it, and put it on the radar for other golfing fanatics.
This series of blog posts is aimed at getting to know the Leadingcourses ambassadors and getting insights into why they play the game of golf. We also hope to give you some fun stories and hidden gems along the way. These lads and ladies have developed a love of the game after years of playing, so there are no better people to answer the question “Why should you play golf?”.
Without further ado, we’ll continue with our next ambassador; The Awesome Austrian , Florian Pichler!
When did you start playing golf and why?
I started playing golf in 2005. My main sport until then was basketball, which I played semi-professionally in Austria’s 1st and 2nd tiers. I wasn’t really looking for an additional sport but my parents-in-law both played golf and they took me to a small 9-hole course to try it out. I was immediately hooked.
What is your favourite thing about playing golf? Your least favourite?
Every golf course is different. Every round is different. It’s a great way to be outdoors and spend quality time with friends and family. And every now and then it’s also nice to just play a few holes alone. It’s a great way to collect one’s thoughts.
My least favourite? The shank!
Do you have a favourite course/why?
I have played a lot of great courses in the last couple of years but the one I have the fondest memories of is Royal County Down in Newcastle, Northern Ireland. It’s spectacular! It’s challenging and is one of the nicest golfing areas in the world. My recommendation would be to go there in spring, when the heather is in bloom.
What’s your favourite golfing destination/why?
Scotland. The amount of quality golf courses is mind blowing. Pick any area that you want to see (e.g. Fife, East Lothian, Aberdeen, Ayrshire, …) and you will find lots of courses in close proximity.
What is the best golfing trip you have ever been on? Why?
From a spiritual point of view (golf wise) my trip to St. Andrews was my favourite golf trip so far. We stayed only a short par 3 away from the 18th green of the Old Course and played most of the must plays in the area. It was a long-time dream come true.
What is the toughest course you’ve ever played?
I have played notoriously tough golf courses like Carnoustie Golf Links, Pinehurst No. 2 or the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. While very tough, all of these three courses are still fair to play, and you usually have multiple options to play a hole and make a recovery after a bad swing. I enjoyed all of them.
Probably the toughest course I play regularly is Golfclub Weissensberg in Germany – a late Robert Trent Jones Sr. design. A lot of the fairways feel like bowling aisles with trees left and right. The strategy is very one dimensional – hit your ball straight or pay the price. The course also features small greens that are well defended by bunkers. Things have improved over the last years with better tree management but I am still prepared for a tough golf day when teeing it up at Weissensberg.
Do you have a favourite type of course?
Links golf! I believe true links golf courses are superior to any other type of golf course. Being close to the sea they are usually exposed to the elements and play vastly different day in day out. The sandy soil drains very well and makes the course playable all year long. Plus the fast and firm playing conditions usually found at links courses give you the most options for playing a course.
What courses are on your bucket list? What golfing destinations are on your bucket list?
I have a big excel list with all my bucket list courses. It’s probably too long to share here. And the worst thing is it keeps growing year by year! 🤷♀️ Australia with its sandbelt courses in Melbourne is the golf destination I would love to see the most sometime in the future. The courses and especially their bunkering look exceptional. The distance has made me shy away from a trip so far, but one day I need to go there.
What is the best price/quality destination for playing golf?
Funny enough I played the cheapest and most expensive golf course both on the same trip. The cheapest was The Aiken Golf Club in South Carolina. A very good course and some of the best value in US golf. I payed $18 for 18 holes. The most expensive was Pinehurst No. 2.
If I remember correctly, Leadingcourses published an article about the best bang for your buck golf destination some time ago – and the winner was Wales. To my shame I’ve never been to Wales, but I hope to make a trip there soon. However, I’ve been to England a few times and in terms of price/quality it can’t be far away from Wales. England’s most famous courses aren’t cheap, but you can play many of the very good 2nd tier courses for a very reasonable price. And if you want to play the best, my advice is to play them in shoulder season where green fees will be significantly cheaper.
Who is your favourite course designer and why?
Harry Colt. He was arguably the most famous golf course designer of his era. His list of courses is so impressive and his courses stand the test of time until today. Not surprisingly he also did some work on my favourite golf course Royal County Down. But there are also many other courses he designed that I like a lot like Sunningdale New, Utrechtse de Pan, Formby Golf Club or Rye Golf Club.
Another course designer I respect a lot is Tom Simpson. Simpson was noted to be very eccentric and his courses have something special as well. Some of his work I’ve seen in France like Morfontaine, Chantilly or Fontainebleau is truly exceptional. Some other courses he worked on that I enjoy a lot are Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen and Ballybunion Old.
How did you hear about Leadingcourses?
I plan most of my golf trips without a tour operator and Leadingcourses has proved a valuable source to find interesting golf courses I want to play. The map function is very useful to see all the courses of an area. I also enjoy reading reviews. They give a good impression of what to expect. So please write a review after you have played a course. Long or short, it doesn’t matter. It helps!
A special thanks to Florian for chatting to us. We’re looking forward to more of his stories in the future. You can read all of his reviews on his profile here.
You can also find Florian on social media: