KITZBÜHEL is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders in winter and for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in summer.
What many Brits may not know, however, is that the Tyrolean city also has the best selection of golf courses in the Alps. From June to October, not only old haystacks cavort on the beautiful mountains and meadows, but also golfers cavort on the immaculate fairways, bunkers and greens.
Many hotels in the city offer green fee packages – including the starting point of my four-day trip, the five-star Hotel Tennerhof. The romantic inn from 1679 is located on a secluded slope a few hundred meters from the Kitzbühel Horn cable car. With a selection of almost 50 rooms, suites, apartments and chalets, most of them with a breathtaking view of the city and the 1712 m high Hahnenkamm, its mixture of traditional Tyrolean hospitality and luxury make it the perfect landing spot for golf tourists. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, a large garden and the exclusive Spa de Charme with saunas, steam bath, solarium and relaxation rooms.
The Kupferstube is the Tennerhof’s award-winning restaurant and home to its famous breakfast with a huge buffet menu, delicious pastries and table service with omelettes made to order. In the evening the hotel becomes one of the best restaurants in town.
In terms of golf, my opening goal of the week was the Red Bull Rasmushof golf course. The crisp 9-hole par 3 course near the finish of the world-famous Streif downhill run at the foot of the Hahnenkamm is perfect to get you going. The next day I met my playing partner and club manager Guido to play on the 18-hole golf course in Kitzbühel-Schwarzsee-Reith.
Opened in 1989, nestled between the gently curving Bichlach foothills, the rugged peaks of the Wilder Kaiser and the mighty Kitzbüheler Horn, it offers a mix of terrain of flat fairways, hilly passages, tricky water hazards and contoured greens.
My third round of the week was in Eichenheim-Kitzbühel, designed by Kyle Phillips, the American behind the Kingsbarns Links near St Andrews. From the first hole – a precise drive through a narrow gorge to the green – to the last, a bunker-strewn dogleg uphill, this was a challenge. But the view is dramatic, with holes with raised tees and steep climbs alongside natural streams and thick deciduous forests.
Kitzbühel’s cobbled medieval streets radiate a relaxed atmosphere. Summer tourists cavort on the 1,000 km of hiking trails and 800 km of mountain bike trails nearby. I had dinner at two fantastic restaurants in town, the Lisi Family Hotel and the luxurious Hotel Kitzhof.
Before the flight home, I had time for nine holes at the Kitzbühel-Kaps Golf Club. Fifty years after its founding on the beautiful grounds of Kaps Castle, the redesigned square was reopened in 2006. Although there are only nine holes, each of them is something very special, and the course on the sunny side of Kitzbühel is generally considered to be the best nine-hole course in Austria. I played it with Johannes from the tourism association and played my best golf of the week, including a pin high nine iron to the ninth (the less that is said about the following three putt, the better!).
It’s been a week of ups and downs and ups and downs for me when it comes to golf. But like the snow that covers this picturesque part of the world for half a year, any frustration melts away when you play in an alpine paradise.
l Richard Jones stayed at the five-star Hotel Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa de Charme in Kitzbühel. Prices start from £ 170 per night for a double room. Visit tennerhof.com or call +43 535663181. Round-trip flights to Salzburg from the UK start at £ 40 per person, round-trip with ryanair.com. You can find out more about the golf courses Richard played at kitzbuehel.com/de/golf