Swiss Alps – a golf destination and much more
Would I suggest a golf holiday in Switzerland? Probably not. Would I recommend a holiday in Switzerland and then play some golf while there? Oh yes, with great big cowbells on!
This was my first visit to Switzerland and it was so enjoyable with highlights being the scenery, wonderful accommodation, delicious culinary experiences and a national culture that focuses on the finer things in life, with strong emphasis on health and well-being.
Grey Nickel, the sales and marketing company that specialises in golf and ski, arranged this Swiss visit and the itinerary was action-packed.
London Heathrow to Zurich is a very manageable 80-minute flight and once we’d landed we were whisked off in a southwesterly direction to take a look at a fairly new 9-hole course called Golf Meggen. There are some lovely holes to be played here, where the elevated panoramic views across Lake Lucerne are simply stunning. We stayed at the Seehotel Waldstaetterhof in the vibrant town of Brunnen on this first night where further lovely lake views are to be savoured, this time at street level.
There was just enough time for nine holes at Golf Club Axenstein en route to the next planned stop. Axenstein is unlikely to appear in any golf course rankings, but it’s so much fun where there are some really short holes and some really tough walks between greens and tees – at this point I wished I was a mountain goat! You will get round these nine holes in just over an hour and the experience is not to be missed. Yet again the mountain and lake views are simply breathtaking.
Back to the schedule and off to the famous ski town of Andermatt. This town met my expectations of a classy Swiss ski hub, with fantastic food and drink and accommodation choices and, of course, the vibe that skiers instantly recognise. We continued to be treated like royalty and pitched up at The Chedi, which is part of The Leading Hotels of the World group, a collection of 375 hotels that are unrivalled for absolute quality throughout. The Chedi is without a doubt the best accommodation in this area.
Our golf experience was at Andermatt Swiss Alps – here we have a course that is only two years old (opened in 2016) and so close to the beautiful mountains in the Urseren Valley. It’s laid out over rocky terrain, which is intersected by natural streams and surrounded by grazing cows. There are some memorable holes, especially the unforgettable short par four at the 3rd and 4th. Our 2018/2019 Swiss ranking for the course is #10 and the review posted 30th October 2017 by our Alpine Correspondent, François Gacougnolle, is just spot on perfect – there’s nothing that I can add as it’s very accurate and well worth a read (Andermatt Swiss Alps click to read more).
After a very relaxing night at The Chedi we transferred to another club at Domat/Ems via a tricky drive across mountain roads with many nerve-jangling hairpin bends – just watch those edges… it’s a long way down! There are three loops of nine holes at Domat/Ems and again I cannot envisage this course becoming part of the Switzerland rankings, but there are a number of strong holes coupled with a really lovely club feel.
Our next journey to Bad Ragaz lasted only twenty minutes and it was the highlight of my trip. We stayed at The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz and yet again we were treated like kings. This property is billed as Europe’s Leading Wellbeing & Medical Health Resort and it’s also on the books of The Leading Hotels of the World. As luck would have it, we arrived in town during Bad RagARTz, an open-air exhibition of 430 sculptures that simply has to be seen.
Our golf was played on the venue for the Swiss Seniors Open hosted each July since 1997 where the winners normally have some very low scores. In 2015, local favourite, Andre Bossart, went on to win the event after carding a 61. This score was on for me after three holes of my round at Bad Ragaz but suffice to say the course record still remains intact!
I really enjoyed the Bad Ragaz course, which reminded me in part of the Duchess course at Woburn in England – very tight in places, but not overly long where accuracy is key to scoring well. Everything about the Bad Ragaz layout is just an extension of the whole town – this is just a really nice feel good place to be, whether you are hiking, golfing, using the spa or eating very well.
On the subject of eating, our ‘king-like’ experience continued into the evening when we dined at IGNIV, the 1 Michelin star restaurant by Andreas Caminada. The talented chef and his team explained in perfect detail each and every one of the twenty-courses during our time at his table. This was a serious culinary treat (with wines to match). I may be more accustomed to the pie and mash shop in the East End of London, but this was undoubtedly one of the very best dining moments in my life.
There was just enough time on the final day of our luxurious trip to walk off the excesses and play another 9-hole layout that’s set right next door to Bad Ragaz, at Golf Club Heidiland. This is another facility where fun is the main focus, with nine expertly manicured short holes that will only take up an hour or so of any golfer’s time.
I genuinely loved my first golfing experience in Switzerland – expectations have now been set and I can't wait to revisit.
Top 100 Golf Courses