Golf options abound near Grafenwöhr, but they're costly for now
May 24, 2006
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Soldiers here who saw their golf course bulldozed to make way for the biggest Army post exchange in Europe may have a new place to play soon.
The golf course, which featured nine holes set around a large lake, was destroyed to make way for a $38 million post exchange surrounded by 986 parking spaces as part of the as part of the $600 million Efficient Basing Grafenwöhr program.
Program spokeswoman Susanne Bartsch said in an e-mail last week that there are no plans to replace the golf course but added: “We are looking into possible options for the construction of a driving range. However, no decisions have been made.”
In the meantime, Bartsch said, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr had negotiated agreements with four golf courses — Koenigstein, Fahrenbach, Schwanhof and Wutzschleife — all within about an hour’s drive of the base.
“Agreements with the golf clubs include discounted memberships, green fees and adult/youth instructional packages,” she said. And rounds can be booked through the Outdoor Recreation Center at Grafenwöhr, she said.
However, the only course on that list within a 30-minute drive of Grafenwöhr — Schwanhof — is also the most expensive, charging green fees of 40 euros most weekdays (25 euros on Thursdays) and 55 euros on weekends. Yearly membership at Schwanhof for U.S. personnel costs 700 euros, but a four-month membership can be “negotiated” for approximately 300 euros, Bartsch said.
Koenigstein Golf Course, which is about a 35-minute drive from Grafenwöhr but only 15 minutes from Vilseck, offers a 20 percent discount on regular green fees — $28 weekdays or $35 at weekends for Americans. Fahrenbach Golf Course, about 45 minutes away, charges military personnel a green fee of 23 euros during the week and 26 euros on weekends. An annual membership costs 420 euros, Bartsch said.
The most distant course, Wutzschleif, which is about 50 miles from Grafenwöhr, charges U.S. personnel green fees of 35 euros on weekdays and 38 euros on weekends.
For lower-ranking soldiers, the German courses are a lot more expensive than Army courses in Germany.
For example, corporals and below pay just $11 for a weekday round, $13 on weekends and $210 for a yearly membership at Rolling Hills Golf Course at Baumholder. At Kitzingen, weekday green fees for lower ranks are just $13 ($15 on weekends) and $195 for annual membership.
In addition, the Army golf courses offer family memberships that provide discounts for soldiers who want to share their sport with spouses and children. For example, a family membership for lower ranks is just $350 at Baumholder and $245 at Wiesbaden.
Command Sgt. Maj. James F. Campbell, who recently retired as the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandant, said Grafenwöhr should rebuild its golf course but if it was not willing to do that it should provide soldiers with a driving range.
“At least give them a driving range. Something where they can get out and practice their game. A driving range doesn’t take up a lot of space,” said the 15-handicapper who took up golf while serving in Germany.