Golf in the snow?

30th December 2018, by Dave Watts

Winter golf in Crans-Montana

Winter golf in Crans-Montana

It’s not as daft an idea as it sounds. There’s a series of Wintergolf Cup events to be held in Megève (24 to 27 January), Crans Montana (31 January to 3 February) and Val d’Isère (22 to 25 March) on 9-hole courses covered in snow. All events are open to the public by prior registration.

The Megève event is the longest established, having started in 2000.

But way before that when I was a just starting out writing about ski resorts more than 25 years ago, I was honoured to play golf with the great downhill legend Franz Klammer in a tournament on the frozen lake of Weissensee in his home province of Carinthia in Austria.

It was great fun. We played with orange balls and the tees were orange rubber cones with long cords attached. The ‘greens’ were very well-groomed ‘whites’ that were smooth at first but quickly became trodden down by footmarks of snow boots. The ‘fairways’ were also groomed and you were allowed to tee up the ball where it lay. But off the fairway was deep snow – as bad as the rough at Carnoustie. And picking the balls out of the holes drilled in the ice was a very chilling task.

The Weissensee ‘course’ was only an hour or so drive from where we were staying in Heiligenblut and its high and snowsure Grossglockner ski area. Herr Klammer was hosting a trip there arranged by the Austrian National Tourist Office and I skied there with him and GB downhiller Graham Bell (now of Ski Sunday fame, but then merely an Olympic athlete on, strangely, a snowboard – yes, he was very good and fast on that too).

Après-ski was beers at a pavement café, with Herr Klammer continually being approached by passing admirers and happily signing autographs.

Don’t ask who won the golf…

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