Snow Golf? In Switzerland, The place the Greens Are White

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For years, golf has been related to lush greens, bluebird skies and a Whitman’s sampler of riotous plaids and checks. However few know the game has additionally quietly embraced winter whites, notably in ski-crazy Switzerland.

In 2021, the Engadin Snow Golf Cup will enter its forty second 12 months in Switzerland’s Engadine Valley, residence to St. Moritz, and its famed diamond mud skies and scenic alpine golf programs relationship to 1889. What began as a lark in one in every of Switzerland’s sunniest winter sports activities locations, has grow to be a bona fide sport that’s not solely drawn golf fans however has begun to lure second residence consumers in search of winter leisure actions adjoining to the snowy piste.

Winter {golfing} may sound odd, however the alps of southern Switzerland are particularly sunny and supply a refuge for golfers from northern European international locations who might not really feel like hauling their 9 irons on a airplane for a number of rounds farther afield. What’s extra, snow golf affords an lively however less-risky various to snowboarding. This has all led to a surge in reputation in predictable locations like Germany, Austria, Canada and the USA (together with well-liked golf locations like Colorado, California, Wisconsin and North Carolina) but additionally off-the-golf-radar spots like Argentina, Greenland and Finland.

It has additionally drawn fans to purchase close by property. “Winter golf is only one of many choices that make Switzerland’s Engadine Valley enticing for second residence consumers, and some have even purchased right here solely due to that,” stated Ramun Ratti, the managing director at Engadine Golf Course, residence to 2 18-hole programs; it would host the Snow Golf Cup in January. “However snow golf is and can in all probability all the time be area of interest.”

Whereas pictures of winter golf on frozen lakes will be discovered way back to Seventeenth-century Dutch work, it’s believed by some that fashionable snow golf began with St. Moritz’s former resort supervisor, Peter Kasper, who took up the concept of changing the placing greens to whites in 1904, which was actuality with the primary event in 1979, held on a frozen Lake St. Moritz. (The event moved in 1996, and at the moment 9 holes are performed in a snow area in Surlej close to Silvaplana Lake.)

There are, after all, vital variations with common golf. The “whites” want plenty of guide grooming to make the floor across the gap compact, and the balls are orange and the golf holes 3 times larger than regulation dimension. However the trade-off is one thing particular, fans say.

“Winter golf is a tremendous expertise,” stated Caroline Rominger, knowledgeable golfer and Engadine native. “It may be fairly chilly, however when the solar comes out, we regularly play with out jackets.”

The Alps play host to a different event, the Barnes Winter Golf Cup, which is coming into its fourth 12 months in 2021. The annual host of the occasion rotates between 4 totally different alpine resorts: Courchevel, Megève, and Val d’Isére, in France; and Crans-Montana, in Switzerland’s Canton Valais, host of the Omega European Masters and one in every of eight golf programs within the canton.

As the recognition of snow golf tournaments has grown, so has demand for close by actual property.

Switzerland has had a wave of recent golf residences, resorts and programs open in recent times, together with Bürgenstock, a resort complex of hotels and residences perched above turquoise Lake Lucerne and as soon as residence to Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren. In 2017, its scenic nine-hole course providing views of mountains like Eiger, Jungfrau, Pilatus and Titlis, reopened. Andermatt’s community of high-altitude residences and a 18-hole course slightly below the Gotthard Cross opened in 2016, whereas Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, the spa resort, reopened in 2019 with three resorts and 7 eating places, together with two with two Michelin stars every.

The following era of Switzerland’s golf communities contains Golf Resort La Gruyère, scheduled to reopen in 2023 after a significant refurbishment. Not all programs supply snow golf, however demand is rising and having enjoyable is the objective.

“Snow golf is just not about scores,” stated Eveline Fasser Testa, a daily participant who lives in St. Moritz. “The possibility that you simply’ll discover your ball within the deep snow is unlikely. It’s extra concerning the expertise of enjoying golf within the winter and having an ideal day.”

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