When the Vienna Golf Club opened in 1901, it stood alone as the forerunner, a sole Austrian outpost in the developing European golfing world. But golf in this Central European country had at least created its first foothold, although it would take another 30 or so years before there would be enough courses to justify an Austrian Golf Association.
Late starters, maybe, but Austria is now catching up, quickly — the golf market has grown by 98 per cent over the past 20-25 years, with 77 new golf facilities. The number of golfers has tripled in the past two decades as well, reaching over 100,000 players affiliated with the Austrian Golf Association.
Throw in the growing number of golf travellers, many from Germany and Italy, with ever-growing numbers making the longer schlep from Japan, the Middle East and Russia, and you have a burgeoning golf scene, centred around more than 150 courses.
One of Austria’s golf hotspots is in Salzburgerland, which is home to 17 courses. The region nestles against the German border under the gaze of the mighty Eastern Alps, with its famed capital city Salzburg, renowned for its medieval and baroque buildings. Visitors flock here to stroll through the cobbled streets of the traffic-free Altstadt (Old City) on the left bank of the Salzach River, overlooking the 19th-century Neustadt (New City) on its right.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Old City of Salzburg is one of the most charming places in Europe. Crowned by a fortress that’s visible for miles, it’s home to myriad architecture styles, spanning the Middle Ages, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance periods.
Many people head here because it’s the birthplace of composer Mozart and the setting of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s cinematic story of the Von Trapp Family singers, The Sound of Music. Salzburg is a city visited by musical pilgrims year-round, while skiers flock to the region in winter for some of Europe’s finest slopes. Summer, on the other hand, is the time for hikers, nature lovers and golfers. Salzburgerland, in the middle of Austria, is a rural paradise, with its flower-topped mountains, velvety meadows, fishing lakes and leafy mountain walking trails.