Andermatt, Switzerland by the Travelling Lady Golfer
Golf in the Swiss Alps?
With an easy flight to Zurich then just under a 2 hour transfer to Andermatt, it is quite achievable for a few days away
Arriving at the Radisson Blu I was greeted and led to my apartment, rarely do I get the opportunity to be let loose on an apartment, but this one was stunning. The apartments are, in the main, privately owned but sub-let back to the Andermatt Swiss Alps property company, who were my hosts for the duration my stay. My modern one bedroom apartment had everything, just drop your bags and make yourself at home.
A coolish damp day started with breakfast in the Restaurant Biselli, where I met fellow journalist from the UK, from the start a friendship was formed, in short they were a laugh!
This new part of Andermatt, is a collection of alternatively designed buildings whose architecture had been the product of many, creating an alps village with a subtle nod to tradition; some may have window shutters, quirky building shapes, or hazard looking zig-zag decorations, altogether quite new, quiet eclectic and quite refreshing.
A short 10 minute walk to the golf course over a turquoise green bubbling river. Then like a slap in the face it hits you, as you lift your head and gaze upwards at the shiny craggy grey mountains, and the narrow valley spread out in front of you- I’m in the Swiss Alps – playing golf!! Andermatt course is a Kurt Rossknecht design, voted the best 18 hole course in Switzerland in 2018, and being likened to a Scottish-looking golf course; I was keen to give it a go.
It was damp, it was grey and it was stunning, not even the weather could damped our spirits as we tee’d off on hole one, a reasonably open par 4 with water down the left and with great expectations for the game ahead.
To be fair I’m probably down playing the weather – it was downright miserable, but the course played brilliantly, the wet didn’t hindering our game at all, even the greens were receptive to the ball and took me by surprise how big they were – this certainly wasn’t a course that had been squeezed in between a gap in the mountains!
Hole 3, SI 11 threw up additional challenges playing from the forward tees and being confronted with a steep bank directly up, no driver for me on that hole, I didn’t feel there was enough space to get the ball high before it slammed into the hillside! I took a good 3 wood tee’d slightly higher, with no room for error and a bunker guarding the green I walked away with a par! Another hole of note was the par 3 downhill 5th hole, a relatively easy SI15 hole, and a massive drop down.My tee shot simply went flying past the green and into a field at the back. Another lesson learnt that day… altitude makes you ball go further!
The mountain hugging mist started to get a little more aggressive and was definitely in play, with this in mind an early lunch was called, with promises to return for the back nine afterwards. Great food at the Swiss House clubhouse and no signs of the rainy mist abating, we gave up late afternoon and hurried back to the apartments.
Accommodation in Andermatt is varied and offers the 4* Radisson Blu, the apartments and also The 5* Chedi hotel.
With Thai influences all around the hotel The Chedi doesn’t blur into other building, it shouts its individuality from the hills, as Julie Andrews just landed belting out ‘the hills are alive’. Yes, it does clash with other buildings, yes it is amongst others close by, and yes it truly is five star appearance, welcome and restaurant. Dinner in the restaurant didn’t disappoint either, with wine flowing and an obscene selection of food on offer. A classic cheese room, where the overpowering yet equally intoxicating smell battles with your senses of good versus bad smells.
Back to my apartment for another great nights sleep – seriously I could live in the place, it was so comfortable, safe and peaceful.
Next day, and I’m alone, all other journalist had taken earlier flights but I wanted to see more golf and was offered Realp Golf. In fairness one of the guys played it before I arrived, so I had an insight, but nothing really prepared me for what I saw at Realp.
Realp is better known for James Bond chasing down the almost 8,000 feet Furka Pass as Goldfinger goes about his leisurely business of side street shopping. Whilst no 00 agents were present that day, James was in my heart as we took on those steep slopes to play golf and in places overlooking the hairpin bends he so elegantly took in his stride in that Aston Martin DB5, but who isn’t elegant in an Aston! It bought back nice memories of my drive up and down Stelivo Pass in my Aston DB9… almost the same, but not quite, there was no golf in Stelvio!
Up and down the course went, steep hill climbs and thought provoking shots down to small target greens, all with vista views to die for. Despite its gradients in all directions the course was simply immaculate. Playing with the Assistant head greenskeeper enabled me to learn more about this unique course.
Buggies are available and the green staff have worked tirelessly to ready the course for the wider buggy tracks. Mind you, some of those paths are mini-Furka’s, so be warned! The 7th is a short par 3, downhill, downhill to shallow green, I was warned not to overhit but to take a tight line left to let it bounce down and onto the green. Left and right don’t always happen in the right order for me, this shot was no exception and I pitched straight on the green to hear my partner giggle under his breath and say ‘its in the Alps!’ A little lob shot to get it back onto the green for a par putt – which I missed but heard more giggles from my playing
Another hole of note was no.18, I know this is a 9 hole course, but like other 9 holes there were alternative tee boxes to play 18. Looking at tee 9 and tee 18, I chose tee 18. It was hugely elevated by 55 feet to the small green, from the yellow tees, the ladies tees were some way forward, so I played the yellow tees with a good crack of a 3 wood (not my favourite club) for this 196 yard hole. It landed short left, chip and a putt did give me long awaited par and a massive sense of achievement looking back at the tee box in the sky.
Yes, you can walk in the Swiss Alps, as I’ve proven you can play golf there too, not to mention the stream trains that traverse this beautiful rugged landscape but I was given something quite fun to play with – E-bikes – oh my goodness what fun these were, I can now say I cycled in the Alps, Ok I had a motor helping me along the way, but there is always a way to enjoy the fresh air in Andermatt. Cycle paths were surprisingly well established with cycle routes long and short through the mountains. Time didn’t allow us a long ride, but it was fantastic to feel the breeze in your hair (well under your helmet) as you cycle along with no effort what so ever. Imholz Sport provide bikes of all sizes with the advantage being you can make it as easy or as hard as you like to get that extra bit of exercise whilst enjoying the freshest of air in the Swiss Alps. For a few moments I felt like of those incredibly fit Europeans with a tan – but without the tan and not so fit!