Oh, no, it’s not just skiing. It’s not just snowboarding. It’s even not just hiking, trekking and mountain biking. Nope, the sporting world of the Alps extends to that most genteel of sports, golf. Spread out across Italy, Switzerland, France and Austria is a plethora of golf courses of varying size, style and exclusivity just waiting for you to try them out.
Switzerland offers a good range of courses, with two 18 hole courses in Verbier, the more spectacular of the two being Les Esserts, which is located higher up than the village. The golf club has a shuttle bus which takes you up into the mountains, where you can then work your way around the course to the panoramic scenery, including a stunning view of Mont Blanc and the Grand Combin. For “bigger is better” and a view of the Matterhorn thrown in for good measure, there’s Crans-Sur-Sierre at Crans Montana, which has four courses, not to mention views over the Rhone Valley.
Italy does golf courses the way it does everything else: with style. Expect reassuringly expensive and impeccably groomed golf clubs and greens, in a range of courses spread over several regions. For something of a fairyland course in the Dolomites, in the Eastern Alps, Golf Club Kastelruth has hills, dales, woods, ravines, waterfalls and ponds, all with long fairways and with the jagged Dolomites sticking up like a cardboard backdrop. Or you can find famous golf courses such as Courmayeur, where the swish golf club is just as much of a draw as the course.
Austria, as always, is no exception to the rule, with tons of great golf courses to choose from. A good choice for all-rounders is the Schladming 18 hole golf course, which starts off with a straightforward four holes perfect for amateurs and gradually gets harder with all sorts of obstacles including a pebble beach to keep you amused and trying hard. For a full on championship course, head for Kitzbuehel and Golf Eichenheim, perhaps the most famous golf course in the Austrian Alps and a stunning, tree-lined, challenging course with wonderful scenery.
France has many choices of golf courses in its mountain resorts – your only problem is choosing which one. From the prestigious Chamonix Mont-Blanc Golf Course with its astonishing backdrop of Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouge, to Aix-les-Bains golf club which was set up in 1918 for the British to indulge their hobby, there’s something for everyone.