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A U S TRIA


E


very year it’s like a gigantic reveal, with golfers waiting impatiently for the biterly cold Austrian Alpine winter to relent and pull back its blanket


of snow from the beautiful, lush fairways and greens, allowing the fun to begin. You can almost imagine the buggies queuing up outside Hotel Grand Tirolia waiting for the greenkeeper of Eichenheim to give the thumbs up so golfers can gleefully tee off. The excitement would momentarily wear off within a few shots as the memories of past rounds return — reminding them just how tough this mountain course is. However, when they do look up and take in their surroundings aſter that double bogey put is sunk all is forgiven. The 6,092m, par 71, Eichenheim is the work of


American architect Kyle Phillips, who spent 17 years with Robert Trent Jones Jr — where he was responsible for, among others, Celtic Manor, Sugarloaf and Granite Bay — before striking out on his own. While Eichenheim must surely rank among his most spectacular works, he was definitely given the most incredible tools with which to work.


Hotel Grand Tirolia is based near the Alpine town of


Kitzbuhel, just over an hour south-west of Salzburg, in the province of Tyrol, east of Innsbruck. In the winter months, it’s where you go to ski and, if snow-loving types are to be believed it’s got a bit of a ‘legendary’ status. Even just the most half-baked atempt at research will reveal why: the 1,712m Hahnenkamm, a mountain that plays host to a downhill race where racers hit speeds of 140kmh, tackles jumps of 80m and gradients of 85% — all in front of about 500m television viewers in the hope of winning half-a-million euros or so. A far safer way of earning that kind of money is to


play golf. Admitedly, you have to play well, but earlier this year, several months aſter the downhill skiers risked life and limb for the cost of a very average flat in a shabby part of London, three golfers playing in the shadow of Hahnenkamm were 150 yards or so from winning twice as much. All three had earlier in the year recorded an ace at


one of 40 courses across Europe registered with Million Dollar Hole In One (MDHIO). Their prize was


countrybycountry.com 71


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