Golfing in Germany

Information for the golfer on golfing in Germany: the Golf Federation, the requirements to play (the handicap system, medical certificates) with information on who to contact locally...

Golfing is still an elite sport in Germany. While traditionally not a golfing country, the emergence of German golfer Bernhard Langer, the "Ice Man", in the 1980s placed Germany firmly on the golfing map and since then new courses have been developed around the country. There are now more than 600 golf courses nationwide across all federal states and the number of golfers is fast approaching half a million. Bavaria has the most highly concentrated number of golf courses, and the former East of the country has the fewest.

Golfing Associations

The German Golf Association (Deutsche Golf Verband, DGV) is the main association which looks after clubs and licences.

There is also an association for players that are not affiliated to any particular club, the Vereinigung Clubfreier Golfspieler (VcG).

Playing Golf in Germany

Germany follows the handicap system set by the European Golf Association (EGA). Generally, a handicap certificate is always required to play and a Tee-time must be booked in advance (it is seldom possible to simply turn up and play). Clubs and shoes are not available for rent.

Requirements to play

All golfers wishing to practise their sport in Germany require a golfing licence (Platzreife) which is proof of handicap. It is not necessary to have a medical certificate or proof of insurance in order to play.

The German golfing licence (Platzreife)

Foreign players do not need to take the Platzreife examinations if they can prove their handicap through official club membership and handicap card.

Residents of Germany and others without an official handicap card must take the Platzreife examination before permission is granted to play a round of golf.

The licence examination

The Platzreife examination comes in two parts:

  • The practical test: tests driving, putting and chipping skills. Golfers must complete an 18-hole round in 108 strokes or fewer with a DGV-certified golf pro
  • The written examination: tests knowledge of the rules of golf and golfing etiquette. A minimum of 24 out of 30 correct answers is required to pass. The test is in German

In 2006 the DGV introduced new examination guidelines for obtaining a DGV-certified golfing licence. This certification is the most widely accepted form of golfing licence in Germany and can be obtained by all golfers no matter whether they are a club member or not. There are now over 400 clubs in Germany offering three- to five-day courses for obtaining a DGV and PGA approved golfing licence. To check that the club in question is DGV certified see the DGV website or call the information line during office hours.

  • DGV website (in German)
    Tel: 0611 341 040 (in German)

There is a fee for training and taking the Platzreife and many choose instead to take the course in Austria, Italy, Switzerland or Spain where it is less expensive. Some golf course developers as well as others in the profession have tried to get rid of the Platzreife in order to make golf more accessible.

Golf Club Membership

Once the Platzreife has been obtained, golfers are free to join a private golf club or play as a non-member on the numerous courses in Germany. Club fees vary with club exclusivity, as do links fees.

Golf clubs and courses

Golf driving ranges

Golf driving ranges can also be found throughout the country. The majority of driving ranges are to be found within a golf club. Restrictions may apply, most commonly:

  • Use of driving ranges limited to members only
  • Use of driving ranges limited to members and holders of a Platzreife
  • Anyone can use the driving range for a fee (price of balls)

There are also a small number of driving ranges that do not belong to private golf courses where non-licensed players may practise. Golfers need to take their own clubs. Payment is made directly at the ball dispenser. Sometimes, a chip is required for the ball dispenser. In this case, the driving range management will exchange the chip for cash and may refuse admission if certain rules of golfing etiquette are not being followed (dress code, shoes, general appearance, for example).

Check on the list of German driving ranges to find the nearest golf driving range. Simply type in the post code and city of residence to obtain a list of course and ranges in the area.

Some Useful Golfing Terminology

English German
Golf cart Golfmobil
Golf club (organisation) Golfklub
Golf club Golfschläger
Golf course Golfplatz
Golf player Golfspieler
Golf tournament Golfturnier
Iron Eisen
Wood Holz