Travel: Different strokes in Kitzbuhel
- Credit: Michael Werlberger
Kitzbühel has long been a popular destination with skiers and snowboarders in the winter, and with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts during the summer.
However, what many Brits may not know is that the Tirolean town also has the best choice of golf courses in the Alps.
From June to October, its beautiful mountains and meadows are not only dotted with old hay barns, but also with golfers making their way around the immaculate fairways, bunkers and greens.
Many of the town’s hotels offer packages that include green fees – among them was the base for my four-day trip, the five-star Hotel Tennerhof.
Dating back to 1679, the romantic guest house is situated on a secluded hillside a few hundred yards away from the Kitzbühel Horn cable car.
With a choice of almost 50 rooms, suites, apartments and chalets, most with breathtaking views of the town and the 1712m Hahnenkamm, its mix of traditional Tirolean hospitality and luxury make it the perfect landing area for golfing tourists.
There is an indoor and outdoor pool, a large garden, and the exclusive Spa de Charme, featuring saunas, steam bath, solarium and modern relaxation rooms.
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The Kupferstube is the Tennerhof’s award-winning restaurant and home of its famous breakfast, with a huge luxury menu combining buffet options, mouthwatering pastries and a table service of made-to-order omelettes.
Then, in the evening, the hotel becomes one of the town’s best spots for dinner.
Golf-wise, my opening destination for the week was the golf course Red Bull Rasmushof.
This tough nine-hole, par-three course, located near the finishing line of the world-famous Streif downhill skiing course at the bottom of the Hahnenkamm, is perfect to get you into the swing (pun intended).
The next day, I met up with my playing partner and club manager Guido to play the 18-hole golf course Kitzbühel-Schwarzsee-Reith.
First opened in 1989, and nestling between the rolling Bichlach foothills, the craggy peaks of the Wilder Kaiser and the mighty Kitzbühel Horn, it features a mix of terrain including flat fairways, hilly sections, tricky water hazards and contoured greens.
My third round of the week was at golf course Eichenheim-Kitzbühel, designed by Kyle Phillips, the American behind the Kingsbarns links near St Andrews.
From the first hole – a precision drive through a narrow gorge to the green – to the last – a bunker-littered uphill dogleg, this was a challenge.
However, the views are dramatic, with holes incorporating elevated tee shots and steep ascents beside the natural streams and dense deciduous forests.
Away from the courses, Kitzbühel’s cobbled medieval streets have a relaxed, take-your-time vibe, with hundreds of summer tourists making the 1,000km of footpaths and 800km of mountain bike trails nearby.
I had dinner at two amazing restaurants in the town, firstly in the Lisi Family Hotel, and then at the luxurious Hotel Kitzhof.
Before flying home, I still had time for nine holes at golf club Kitzbühel-Kaps.
Fifty years after it was founded in the stunning grounds of Kaps Castle, the revamped course reopened in 2006.
Although there are only nine holes, each one is extra special, and the course on the sunny side of Kitzbühel is generally regarded as the best nine-hole course in the whole of Austria.
I played the course with Johannes from the tourist board and played my best golf of the week, including a pin-high nine iron to the ninth (the less said about the three-putt that followed, the better!).
It had been a week of high and lows and ups and downs for me, golfing-wise. But, like the snow that covers this picture-perfect part of the world for half of the year, any frustration melts away when you’re playing in an Alpine paradise.
Richard Jones was a guest at the five-star Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa de Charme Hotel in Kitzbühel. Prices start from £170 per night for a double room, including breakfast. Visit tennerhof.com or call +43 535663181.
Return flights to Salzburg from the UK are priced from £40pp return with ryanair.com
Transfers from Salzburg airport to Kitzbühel cost from €98pp each way. Visit Four Seasons Travel at tirol-taxi.at or call +43 512584157.
Richard played four rounds during his week in Austria at Red Bull Rasmushof, Kitzbühel-Schwarzsee-Reith, Eichenheim-Kitzbühel, and Kitzbühel-Kaps. For more information, please go to: kitzbuehel.com/en/golf