Travel: Golf without Guilt

Kitzbühel, in the Tyrol region of Austria, has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest winter sports destinations in the world. The city has hosted not one but two Winter Olympics (1964 and 1976) and is home to the annual Hahnenkamm downhill ski race. But it is for another very different kind of sport that Kitzbühel is now gaining a reputation: this Alpine retreat is fast establishing itself as one of the finest golfing destinations in Europe.

By Neerja Shah

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Published: Fri 24 Jul 2009, 9:12 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:17 AM

Much of this charming walled city was built in the 1500s during the silver mining boom, and still retains an old-world character. As the winter snows retreat around this picturesque town, it gives way to stunning alpine vistas, with lush nature surrounding you wherever you look.

It is in these breathtaking surroundings that an impressive number of golf courses can be found, covering the full spectrum of playing experiences from schools and academies, to PGA championship courses and everything in between. Considering Kitzbühel is home to fewer than 8,500 people, the fact it has four courses (there are nine within a half-hour drive and 28 if you’re willing to drive an hour) is staggering. No surprise then that the region is promoting itself as a destination where you can stay for a month and play at a different course every day.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the area is that none of its development seems to have happened at a cost to its culture or environment. At the Golfclub Kitzbühel, which is built on the grounds of the Kasper Castle, part of the old castle wall has been incorporated in the design. Others, such as the Golfclub Eichenheim (designed by Kyle Philips) have been created to make maximum use of its location to challenge the skill of players against the backdrop of the striking natural beauty of the Wilder Kaiser and Hohe Tauern mountains.

The Kitzbühel tourism authority has put together an informative and practical catalogue of the courses, training venues, accommodation, weather, transport and the local golfing calendar at

Golfers concerned about driving their partners crazy while they have the time of their lives on the courses will be pleased to know that Kitzbühel boasts some amazing spas and top quality shopping. The city has traditionally been frequented by both European and Middle Eastern royalty — many of whom still maintain homes there — so the shopping in Kitz (as it is affectionately known) is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The best designers in Austria, as well as top brands from across Europe, flock to downtown Kitz to strut their wares and vie for shoppers’ attention. Even today, many followers of fashion make special shopping trips to the city.

If sporting action is more up your street, Kitz offers plenty by way of guided cycling or walking tours. Tours are designed to suit every taste; you can walk past 200-year-old farmhouses whose owners still work the land for a living, take in old churches or walk along scenic winding paths to enjoy a swim in a crystal-clear fresh water lake.

Like anywhere in Europe, Kitzbühel offers a wide range of accommodation options, from charming local-run bed and breakfasts or rentable villas, to cosy boutique hotels and glitzy five-star properties, but the accent is most definitely on the high-end.

The Grand Spa Resort A-Rosa, a historic hotel converted from a monastery and awarded ‘Best Hotel in Austria 2008’, is happy to cater to individual requests and has been known to fly in halal chefs from Vienna for Middle Eastern guests.

The Hotel Schwarzer Adler features the longest rooftop pool in the Alps. Although the pool is no doubt impressive, the real treat is the 360-degree panoramic view of the old town and the surrounding mountains.

The charms of Kitzbühel do not end at the 18th hole. The city offers a variety of options to keep the whole family happy and actively interested in the holiday for as long it takes.

So if you are undecided about a vacation venue for a short or extended summer sojourn, and want to combine a great destination with a great golfing experience, consider Kitzbühel. We can promise you will be headed back for more next year.

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