DIAMOND COUNTRY CLUB
Where is it? 60km west of Vienna
What’s it like? When Rafael Cabrera-Bello’s final putt fell centimetres short of a record-breaking European Tour score of 59 at the Fontana Golf Club in 2009, the Austrian Open found a tougher long-term home at the Diamond Country Club.
Opened in 2002, the Diamond championship course is flat and aquatic. The centrepiece is an enormous artificial lake, while the few holes that don’t run along its shores have mini water hazards. In addition to the sandy variety, there are several subterranean bunkers, built to shelter petroleum depot workers during the Second World War.
After meeting his second wife at the Lyoness Austrian Open welcome ceremony, Miguel Angel Jimenez redesigned several of the holes, notably the mighty par-four dog-leg eighth, rated stroke index one. Three of the par threes have island greens, while the signature 16th curves around the lake to an equally elusive peninsula pin. Best take your A-game, or sink without trace.
The nine-hole Park Course forms part of the 18-hole Country Course, a diffuse layout with long walks from green to tee, but a softer option for higher handicappers. Hotel guests play the first 12 for free, but there are plans to incorporate the holes into two 18-hole courses.
Contact Am Golfplatz 1, 3,452 Altzenbrugg; tel +43 227 520 075; diamondcountryclub.com
Price Diamond course Mon-Thurs e80, Fri-Sun e100, after 4pm €50/€70; Park Course nine holes €35; buggy €25, clubs €23 (Callaway).
Club hours 8am-5pm (6am high season).
Maximum handicap Men 26, women 30 recommended; certificate not required.
Facilities Diamond course 18 holes, 6,819m, par 72; Park course nine holes played twice, 3,773m, par 34; Country course (hotel guests only) 12 holes, 3,513m, par 48.
After the golf The main clubhouse has eight bedrooms, a large restaurant (breakfast from 7.30am) and a sports bar. Between May and September, the action moves to the Boathouse, a nautical concept with decking overlooking an artificial lake and a sandy beach.
On Thursdays, queues form at 5pm for the barbecue (all you can eat for e20 a head). Dinner in UND, a smart gourmet restaurant under the same ownership in a neighbouring town, is a bargain at e60 per person (minimum two) for three courses plus transport there and back in a Diamond Bentley. The aparthotel with 36 luxurious rooms and suites, with kitchens and terraces, opened last year.
GOLF CLUB ADAMSTAL FRANZ WITTMANN
Where is it? 75km south-west of Vienna.
What’s it like? A friendly enterprise owned by Austria’s celebrity rally driver, Franz Wittmann, near his native village of Ramsau. A passionate golfer, he created the course in 1995, dynamiting Alpine foothills to open up perspectives defined by rocks and ravines in richly mixed coniferous forest. In today’s politically green climate, even a sporting hero would be refused planning permission for such a radical transformation of the environment, but the results are challenging and spectacular.
This is not the longest of courses, but narrow fairways and constant changes of elevation ensure that it takes no prisoners. The holes are luxuriously private – so well set apart that golfers rarely see their fellow players. A sliver of spare terrain near the clubhouse allows for a 19th betting hole, a par three that traditionally decides who buys the drinks at the “20th hole”.
Contact A-3172 Ramsau, Gaupmannsgraben 21; tel +43 2764 3500; adamstal.at
Price Championship course Mon-Thurs €80, Fri-Sun €95; nine-hole course €35; buggy €30; clubs e€25 (Titleist).
Club hours 7.30am-7pm (flexibility according to season and demand). Course open April to December, weather permitting.
Maximum handicap 45; certificate not required.
Facilities 18-hole championship course, 5,919m, par 70, plus 19th betting hole; nine-hole Wallerbach course, 5,338m, par 34; driving range, practice area, putting green.
After the golf In good weather, golfers gather on the terrace overlooking the winter garden outside the clubhouse. The mountain fare is as traditional as the surroundings, especially in the halfway house, where Franz Wittman Jr’s mother-in-law rules a tiny kitchen, preparing free sausage-and-cheese open sandwiches. Built as a hotel in 1900, the clubhouse has ten guestrooms.
GOLF CLUB FONTANA
Where is it? 40km south of Vienna.
What’s it like? An exclusive members’ club on the outskirts of Baden, a fashionable spa town in easy reach of downtown Vienna. Lakes feature prominently, most notably the 20-hectare turquoise inland sea that dominates the final holes. The course, designed by Canadian Doug Carrick, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The soil excavated from the lakes provided the raw material for a typically North American target golf course, with sculptured fairways and undulating greens. By any standards, this former European Tour venue is impressive, with stands of pine trees and distant views of wide horizons. Risk reward shots over water and sand hazards to reach target greens put a premium on accurate iron play – lesser mortals must rely on strategy to keep their scorecards clean.
Contact Fontanasportsveranstaltungs GMBH, Fontana Allee 1, 2,522 Oberwaltersdorf; tel +43 2253 6062 203; fontana.at
Price Mon-Thurs €100 Oct 15-Apr 30, €140 May 1-Oct 14; Fri-Sun€100/€155; buggy €40, clubs €40 (Taylormade).
Club hours 7.30am-6pm
Maximum handicap Men and women 36 recommended at weekend; certificate not required.
Facilities 18-hole golf course, 6,089m, par 72; driving range, practice area, putting green.
After the golf The opulent clubhouse has a bar, a library, a restaurant (8am-10pm) and fitness and wellness areas (member’s guests day pass e50). There’s a waterfront terrace, with the 18th green at one end and a sandy beach (day pass e25) at the other. Tennis courts also available.
GOLF CLUB SCHLOSS SCHOENBORN
Where is it? 40km north of Vienna.
What’s it like? Not to be confused with Schoenbrunn, Vienna’s 1,441-room Baroque palace built as a summer residence for the Hapsburgs, but similarly rewarding for its aristocratic ambience. Since 1989, the handsome early 18-century house and its extensive outbuildings have formed the focus of 27 holes of very playable golf.
The transformation of the lovely 104-hectare park into a relaxed members’ club was completed by 2000. This is an easy walk among mature trees on flat fairways, with lakes and avenues providing expansive perspectives. What you see is what you get – plenty of landing space off the tees and immaculate putting surfaces on the greens. In theory, there are no excuses for high scores, but triumphal arches, snarling gargoyles and bare-breasted nymphs in the line of play are undeniably distracting – as is the danger of raising your head on the par-three 11th, where the house forms a backdrop to the green. The wildlife is striking, with a heron that rules aggressively at the seventh – a lake hole with a water fountain.
Contact Schloss Schoenborn, 2013 Schoenborn;tel +43 2267 2863; gcschoenborn.com
Price 18 holes Mon-Thurs €75, Fri-Sun €95, buggy €38, clubs €30.
Club hours 9am-6pm
Maximum handicap 36; certificate not required.
Facilities Three nine-hole loops – red 6,387m, green 6,073m, gold 6,114m, par 72; driving range, practice area, putting green.
After the golf A small courtyard café serves breakfast from 8am in summer, then snacks until 7pm. The main restaurant and bar are in the Schloss, with a terrace that offers pit stops at the 11th and 18th greens, and a yesteryear menu including dumplings and schnitzel; open for lunch and dinner (until 10pm).