For an unforgettable round of golf, it's hard to beat teeing off with the Alps in the background. Snow-capped peaks, lakes and ancient forests create the ideal backdrop in which to explore the lush fairways, challenging undulations, and stylish clubhouses.
With a little help from the pros, we've compiled a list of the top 10 golf courses in the French, Austrian, Swiss and Italian Alps.
Set in the mountains of the Kitzbuehel Alps, this 18-hole Championship course was designed by Kyle Phillips—the man behind Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland. The Wilder Kaiser mountain range provides a breathtaking backdrop and the course itself is lined with oak trees (Eichenheim translates as 'home of the oaks').
Pro golfer and Honorary President of the Austria PGA, Hans Lumpi, has been playing here for more than 10 years and believes it is well desereving of its place in the top 10.
"We have the fastest greens in the area and challenging undulations—number three is our signature hole with a drop of 60 metres so the ball is in the air for a long time," Lumpi said. "You have to play smart—play strategic golf—as you're fighting against the course."
Challenging Hole Three at Golf Eichenheim, Kitzbuehel.
The 18-hole Mont d'Arbois Golf Course was built by Baron Edmond Rothchild in 1964 and sits at an altitude of 4,331 feet (1,320 meters), overlooking the village of Megeve.
This summer, the EGCA (European Golf Coaching Academy) will settle in Megeve with Fabrice Tarnaud and three other pros.
"I first started playing at Mont d'Arbois 30 years ago, I loved it as a kid and still love it now as a pro," Fabrice said. "It is the oldest golf course in the French Alps and is quite short, but tricky. The slopes are not too severe but every shot must be played with concentration and strategy."
Despite its altitude, the course is relatively flat. Pro golfer, Jean-Luc Biset has been teaching at Mont d'Arbois since 1989.
"The combination of great views and gentle slopes make this course one of the best in the Alps," Biset said.
Mont d'Arbois Golf Course, Megeve. Photo Courtesy of Domaine du Mont d'Arbois/DR.
Crans Montana, Switzerland
Set on a plateau at 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) overlooking the Rhone Valley. Golfers face the highest peaks of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. The Golf-Club Crans-Sur-Sierre dates back to 1906 and is home to four courses, including the famous 18-hole Severiano Ballesteros, named after its creator, which is billed as one of the most spectacular in the world.
Each year, Crans-Sur-Sierre hosts the prestigious European Masters. Big names have graced its greens, including Spain's Severiano Ballesteros, José Maria Olazabal, and Sergio Garcia, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, South Africa's Ernie Els and Britain's Lee Westwood, currently the world's number-two golfer.
Golf-Club Crans-Sur-Sierre, Crans Montana.
Lake Annecy, France
Both Golf de Giez and Golf Lac Annecy are located at the foot of the Haute Savoie mountains. Golf de Giez's challenging 18-hole Belvedere course demands exercise and precision while offering views of the lake and Mont Blanc. Golf Lac Annecy has a peaceful position in the Roc de Chère nature reserve overlooking the lake and the Château de Menthon. Golf pro, John Wilson has been playing and teaching at Golf Lac Annecy since 1990 and said, "It stands out because it is a compromise between a mountain golf course and lakeside golf course, offering a bit of everything."
Golf de Giez overlooking Lake Annecy.
Sitting at 2,789 feet (850 meters) in the Dolomites of Northern Italy, the 18-hole Golf Club Kastelruth enjoys a long season, open March to November. The course is characterised by ponds, ravines, brooks, waterfalls and long fairways, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the jagged Dolomite mountains.
Golf Club Kastelruth at the foot of the jagged peaks of the Dolomites.
This 18-hole championship golf course in Divonne-les-Bains requires considerable technical skill, and is unusual in opening and closing on Par Three holes. Divonne lies on the border with French-speaking Switzerland, between the foot of the Jura mountains and Lake Geneva. Geneva itself is 20 minutes away on the Swiss autoroute to the southwest. Domaine de Divonne also features an art deco hotel, casino and gourmet restaurants.
Domaine de Divonne Golf Club, Divonne-les-Bains.
The 18-hole Golf Schladming is set against the mighty Dachstein massif. The first four holes are perfect for amateurs, with relatively short fairways and no major obstacles, making for a good starting score. As the game progresses, strategy comes into play and more challenges are thrown in—water hazards, large bunkers, long fairways, an island green and even a pebble beach.
Golf Schladming, Dachstein.
This is a traditional parkland course which runs through wooded hills close to the center of Aix-les-Bains. Opened in 1914, Aix-les-Bains Golf Club is the oldest in the Rhone Alps. The town is famous for its hot sulphur springs, which still attract thousands of visitors every year. Water provides numerous natural features on the 18-hole, Par 70 course. The Aix-les-Bains Golf Club boasts excellent greens and is suitable for golfers of all abilities.
Aix-les-Bains Golf Club, Rhone Alps.
Monte San Pietro, Italy
Golf Club Petersberg was the first golf course in the South Tyrol. This 18-hole course is set on a plateau surrounded by the Brenta Dolomites, offering a stunning backdrop for a sometimes demanding game of golf. Beautiful fairways and hidden greens are lined with ancient pines. Thanks to a particularly mild climate, the golf season in South Tyrol lasts from March to November.
Golf Club Petersberg, South Tyrol.
Engadin St. Moritz, Switzerland
The 18-hole course Samedan Golf Course was opened in 1891, making it the oldest in Switzerland. Its open parkland layout with gently undulating terrain is no effort to walk. It is well worth a visit and should provide an enjoyable and testing round.
Samedan Golf Course, Engadin St. Moritz.