Top 100 Golf Courses updates its Alpine rankings 2016
Austrian and Swiss rankings undergo their biennial review
Top 100 Golf Courses continues its biennial ranking exercise for courses in European countries by taking a look at the Alpine nations of Austria and Switzerland. Both of these mountainous regions attract serious numbers of sporting visitors during the winter when the ski season is in full swing but the terrain also offers golfers a pleasantly different type of playing environment during the summer months.
The Austrian National Tourist Office markets themed packages which combine golf with lakes, hill country, mountain views and so on, integrating dozens of courses with the culture and natural surroundings of the various local regions. We’d like to think we’re complementing this initiative to promote Austria as a golfing destination by doubling the number of courses that we feature and so we now maintain a Top 30 for the country.
In our new standings, Fontana is still at number 1, a position it has held since we created the first classifications for this country eight years ago. It was the venue for the European Tour’s Austrian Open from 2006 to 2009 and the course also occupies a healthy position within our Continental Europe Top 100 so there’s absolutely no doubt about the quality of this twenty-year-old co-design from Doug Carrick and Hans Erhardt.
Another Erhardt co-design – this time the result of a collaboration with Kurt Rossnecht – rises one place to number 5 and it’s the West course at Colony Club Gutenhof, which was the first in the country to establish a 36-hole facility. One recent reviewer praised the club for its “wonderful 36-hole layout just 20 minutes from Vienna. Both courses are challenging, the greens are up to the highest standard and the condition of both extremely good.”
Climbing two spots to number 6, the Diamond course at Diamond Country Club is where the Austrian Open is currently staged, the event having moved there in 2010. Designed by Jeremy Pern and opened for play in 2002, this 18-hole layout has more than a modicum of water hazards to keep the top European Tour professionals on their game when they compete here annually for the national golf championship.
Another two courses move up one position in our revised chart: Linz St Florian, which was laid out by Donald Harradine in the mid-1970s, is our new number 9. A recent 5-ball review advised: “if you are in Vienna, take an hour ride by train to Linz and play this wonderful course. It is worth it”. One place behind, at number 10, is the lovely old Bernhard von Limburger track at Murhof, where Michael Pinner carried out some renovation work at the end of the 1990s.
Extending our coverage of courses in Austria means we have fifteen new entries in our new Top 30 chart, the highest of which, Mondsee, enters the listings at number 8. This mid-1980s design from Max Lamberg sits on the shores of Lake Mondsee in a truly gorgeous Upper Austria setting and it’s here where the medieval Mondsee Abbey was used for the wedding scene in the 1965 hit musical film The Sound of Music.
To view further details of the Austrian Top 30 click the link.
Our Swiss ranking chart remains as a Top 10, with Domaine Imperial heading the list for the 5th successive edition of our national classifications. Designed by Pete Dye, but actually constructed on his behalf by Tim Liddy in the late 1980s, the course occupies a fabulous property on Lake Geneva, with sweeping views across its sparkling waters to Mont Blanc in the distance. The layout also rides high in our Top 100 Continental Europe listings, another indicator of just how highly regarded it is by many golfing experts.
Rising one place to number 2, the old Herbert Narbert design at Lausanne was renovated by Jeremy Pern in the mid-1990s when he rebuilt all eighteen greens. Recent reviewers have commented on the encroachment of trees along the fairways, with one person saying: “bring your chainsaw!” Nevertheless, such criticism hasn’t prevented the course from becoming the runner up in our latest Swiss standings.
The only other upward moving course in our revised Swiss chart is Ascona, which climbs a commendable two places to number 5. Originally laid out as a 9-hole track by Harry Colt and Hugh Alison back in the 1920s, the course was doubled in size by Ken Cotton thirty years later when he formed the layout that’s in play today close to Lake Maggiore.
Our lone new entry is Bad Ragaz at number 7, where the Swiss Senior Open has been held for the last twenty years. Donald Harradine, who was involved in literally dozens of golf projects in Switzerland over many decades, extended the course to an 18-hole layout in the mid-1950s (along with Fred Hawtree) so it’s a track that has stood the test of time for more than half a century now.
To view further details of the Swiss Top 10 click the link.
12 February 2016 Respond to this article