Best Golf Holiday Travel Guides

Golf has become an increasingly popular sport and pastime over the last few decades, with people across the world taking up the game. As such, golf holidays have also grown in popularity as golfers look to travel to new destinations and experience playing on a variety of courses. When planning a golf holiday, it’s important to find the right destination and courses that will provide a memorable trip. This article provides travel guides and tips for some of the top golf holiday destinations around the world.

Scotland

Scotland is renowned as the home of golf, with historic courses that date back centuries. It’s every golfer’s dream to play the famous links courses of Scotland that started the game as we know it today. Some top golf destinations in Scotland include:

St Andrews

The Old Course at St Andrews is considered the most famous and iconic golf course in the world. Playing where the game was born over 600 years ago is a bucket list item for many golfers. St Andrews also has several other courses such as the New Course and Jubilee Course which offer excellent golfing. 

Turnberry

Turnberry’s Ailsa Course hosted several Open Championships and has spectacular views along the Firth of Clyde coastline. The course challenges golfers with windswept terrain, while providing excellent conditions. Turnberry Resort also offers great accommodation and other facilities.

Gleneagles 

The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Hotel is a modern classic that has hosted tournaments including the Ryder Cup. With its undulating terrain and dramatic views, it’s ranked as one of the top parkland courses in the world. Gleneagles also offers two other 18-hole courses: the King’s Course and Queen’s Course.

Dornoch

Royal Dornoch Golf Club in the Scottish Highlands provides a quintessential links golf experience with its hard and fast rolling fairways. Having opened in 1877, it’s one of the oldest courses in Scotland. The natural beauty surrounding the course makes it a special place to play.

Carnoustie

Known as one of the toughest Open Championship venues, Carnoustie lives up to that reputation with its challenging and penal bunkers. The Championship Course requires accuracy and nerves of steel to conquer it. Nearby Buddon Links and Burnside Course offer excellent alternatives.

When visiting Scotland for golf, it’s recommended to stay in St Andrews or Edinburgh and take day trips to visit the courses and soak in the history of Scottish golf.

Ireland

Along with Scotland, Ireland is a premier golfing destination in Europe. From Dublin to the southwest coast, Ireland has over 400 courses dotted throughout its spectacular countryside. Some highlights include:

Ballybunion

On the southwest coast, Ballybunion’s Old Course features incredible seaside holes on rolling dunes. With its beautiful setting and challenging layout, Ballybunion is on every golfer’s Irish must-play list. The Cashen Course is also a fantastic companion.

Lahinch

Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare dates back to 1892 and includes quintessential Irish links golf. Blind shots over dunes and unpredictable winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean make Lahinch a rollercoaster ride. The Old Course flows naturally over the terrain.

Royal County Down

Located in Northern Ireland, Royal County Down has spectacular views of the Mountains of Mourne. Its Championship Course consistently ranks as the top course in Ireland and one of the finest in the world. The greens are known to be the smoothest and most natural surfaces in golf.

Portmarnock

On a peninsula north of Dublin, Portmarnock Golf Club features two excellent links courses: the Championship Course and the Links Course. Portmarnock regularly hosts major amateur events and is revered for its golfing heritage and traditions.

Adare Manor

Inland from the southwest coast, Adare Manor offers a top-tier parkland golf experience. Its 18-hole Champion Course was redesigned by Tom Fazio and is in pristine condition. Luxurious accommodation and dining at the manor provides an ideal Irish golf getaway.

Dublin, Killarney, and Galway serve as good central locations from which to base an Irish golf holiday. Many courses are within a couple hours’ drive.

Portugal

Beyond Ireland and Scotland, Portugal has emerged as a premier golf destination in Europe, thanks to its year-round mild climate. The Algarve region in the south has earned the nickname of “Golf Coast” with over 40 golf courses. Some top picks are:

Vilamoura

With seven courses, Vilamoura is a golfer’s paradise that attracts players year-round. The Old Course, Pinhal Course, Millennium Course, Laguna Course, and more provide variety. Excellent resorts and dining add to the experience.

Monte Rei

Consistently ranked #1 in Portugal, Monte Rei lives up to its nickname the “Pebble Beach of Europe.” Pristine conditioning and peaceful mountains views throughout make Monte Rei a special play. Verdant valleys come alive on the back nine holes.

Penina

Penina Hotel & Golf Resort features three 9-hole courses that can be combined into 18 holes. Credited as the first resort course in Europe and lives up to its historic reputation by offering great playing surfaces. The resort has excellent amenities. 

Espiche

Designed by Rocky Roquemore, Espiche Golf provides great variety over its 18 holes stretching along valley wetlands. Fantastic views of the ocean can be seen from the course, which provides a peaceful backdrop. Strategic bunkering requires accuracy.

Amendoeira

The 36 holes at Amendoeira Golf Resort were designed by Christy O’Connor Jr. and are arranged over two neighboring sites: the Faldo Course and O’Connor Jr. Course. Both provide challenging and scenic golf at this upscale resort.

The Algarve region is best to base a golf trip from, as courses are located close together along the southern coast. Luxurious accommodations and great cuisine add to the experience.

Spain 

Sunny Spain has become a golf mecca, with the Costa del Sol along the Mediterranean home to many top courses. Mild winters make Spain a great escape for European golfers. Premier golf destinations include:

Valderrama 

Host of the 1997 Ryder Cup, Valderrama is considered the top course in Mainland Europe. The beautiful parkland course has hosted many European Tour events. Golfers marvel at Valderrama’s impeccable conditioning and rolling fairways lined with cork trees.

Finca Cortesin

Also located on the Costa del Sol, Finca Cortesin features an immaculate Cabell Robinson design through a valley landscape with sea views. The exclusive resort has a gorgeous hotel, spa, and restaurants onsite.

PGA Catalunya

Designed by top architects, PGA Catalunya’s Stadium and Tour courses are an excellent 36-hole facility near Costa Brava. The peaceful scenery through pine forest and the Mediterranean provide a wonderful setting.

On the Costa del Sol, Alcaidesa offers true links golf along the coast with sweeping sea vistas. Designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark, it’s reminiscent of British links with winding terrain. The companion Alcaidesa Links Course offers an inland layout.

Las Colinas 

In the Alicante region, Las Colinas is an outstanding 18-hole course arranged over rolling hills and valleys. The golden age layout provides stunning scenery, bunkered greens, and exceptional conditions.

Major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Malaga serve as convenient bases for golf trips. Courses are found both inland and along the coastal regions of Spain.

United Arab Emirates

Over the last two decades, the United Arab Emirates has also become a premier golfing destination. Several of the top-ranked courses in the world are located here, featuring spectacular architecture and amenities. Top courses include:

Designed by Kyle Phillips, Yas Links has garnered acclaim for its authentic links golf experience in Abu Dhabi. Rolling dunescape terrain, undulating greens, and quality conditions impress visiting golfers. Yas also offers great dining and luxury accommodations.

Emirates Golf Club 

Home of the annual Dubai Desert Classic, Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis course is one of the most recognizable in the region. Greens are guarded by waste bunkers and water hazards, with palm trees lining fairways. The Faldo-designed track challenges professionals and amateurs alike. 

Jumeirah Golf Estates

Greg Norman’s Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates hosts the season ending DP World Tour Championship. This 7,700 yard course has expansive water features and requires power to score well. The companion Fire Course offers a more forgiving desert layout.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

On a barrier island in Abu Dhabi, this Gary Player design has eight holes along the Persian Gulf. Undulating dunes and wildlife provide a beautiful backdrop at Saadiyat Beach. Conditions are always pristine year-round.

Trump International Golf Club

Designed by Gil Hanse, Trump International features a brilliant layout across rolling landscape with mountains as a backdrop. Strategically placed bunkers and stacked sod-wall bunkers require careful navigation by golfers.

Luxury resorts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai make ideal bases for UAE golf trips. Courses continue to open as golf development expands across the region.

United States

America boasts some of the top golf destinations in the world for domestic and international travelers. Historic venues, oceanside gems, and desert oases allow for amazing variety. Here are some leading golf holiday spots in the US:

Pebble Beach 

The Monterey Peninsula on California’s central coast is home to iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links. With glorious Pacific Ocean vistas on cliffs and cypress trees dotted throughout, Pebble Beach is on every golfer’s must-play list. The neighboring Links at Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill complement Pebble perfectly.

Pinehurst

In North Carolina’s Sandhills region, Pinehurst Resort offers nine courses designed by top architects. The No. 2 Course has hosted multiple major championships. Pinehurst’s immense rolling greens require creativity and precision. The quaint village provides ideal lodging and dining.

Bandon Dunes

Along Oregon’s rugged coastline, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort features six links-style courses crafted by architects like Tom Doak and David Kidd. Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, and Old Macdonald are all ranked among the best public courses in America. Lodging and practice facilities complete the experience. 

Palm Springs

With more than 100 courses, the Palm Springs area is a golf destination like no other. Iconic desert golf venues like PGA West and Desert Willow are complemented by classic courses like Indian Wells. Nearby La Quinta is also home to top tracks. Winter temperatures in the 70s and 80s make it ideal.

Kiawah Island

South of Charleston, South Carolina, Kiawah Island Golf Resort contains five championship courses including the famed Ocean Course. Architect Pete Dye crafted an incredible seaside layout full of sand, wind, and scenic marshland views. Nearby luxury accommodation options abound.

For domestic travelers, golf resorts in California, South Carolina, Arizona, Florida also make for amazing golf holidays full of stunning scenery and world-class courses. International visitors can find authentic American golf experiences tailored to their preferences.

Thailand 

Over the past 20 years, Thailand has become one of Asia’s premier golfing getaways. Both the central and southern regions offer amazing courses and luxurious resorts for travelers. Some standout destinations include:

Hua Hin 

A few hours south of Bangkok, Hua Hin contains award-winning courses like Banyan Golf Club and Black Mountain Golf Club. Sea breezes and oceanfront scenery characterize the region. Resort accommodations like Anantara Hua Hin complement the golf.

Phuket

Phuket features first-class resort golf experiences, including Blue Canyon Country Club and Mission Hills Phuket. Amazing rainforest scenery and ocean views thrill visiting golfers. Luxury hotels like Banyan Tree Phuket add to the vacation.

Pattaya

Not far from Bangkok, Pattaya offers great golf value with courses like Laem Chabang International Country Club. Pattaya is home to a large ex-pat community which has supported quality private clubs. The city’s dining, nightlife and beaches add appeal.

Chiang Mai 

In northern Thailand, Chiang Mai provides a cooler climate in the mountains along with superb golf. Alpine Golf Resort and Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort impress with their beautiful surroundings. Unique Lanna architecture characterizes the region.

Hua Hin 

Along the eastern Gulf coastline, Hua Hin serves as Thailand’s premium beach golf destination. Banyan Golf Club and Black Mountain Golf Club rank among Asia’s finest. The Hyatt Regency Hua Hin and Anantara Resort provide pure luxury.

Thailand combines great golf with beaches, culture, cuisine and friendly hospitality. Bangkok, Phuket, and Hua Hin make ideal starting points to experience Thai golf at its best.

Australia

With temperate weather year-round, Australia has developed into an amazing golf holiday destination. The variety of terrain across the enormous country leads to courses ranging from coastal gems to sand belt classics. Premier golfing spots include:

Melbourne Sand Belt 

The dune land across Melbourne’s southeast side is home to revered courses like Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Victoria, and Metropolitan. Master architects Alister MacKenzie and Alex Russell crafted these layouts in the 1920s, which remain ranked among the world’s finest tests of golf.

Barnbougle Dunes

On the northeast coast of Tasmania, Barnbougle Dunes is Australia’s premier links golf venue. Designed by architect Tom Doak, Barnbougle transports golfers to Scotland and Ireland with its windswept dunes and rolling fairways. Nearby Lost Farm provides a matching links experience.

Sydney Area 

In Sydney’s northern suburbs, courses like Bonnie Doon, Avondale, and Pymble occupy beautiful sand belt terrain reminiscent of Melbourne’s revered courses. The surrounding national parks and rugged coastal courses offer variety.

Sunshine Coast

North of Brisbane along the Coral Sea, courses like Noosa Springs, Pelican Waters, and Twin Waters offer amazing scenery and sub-tropical conditions. Resorts in Noosa Heads and beach towns provide great accommodation paired with golf.

Gold Coast 

South of Brisbane, the Gold Coast features courses like Sanctuary Cove, Palmer Colonial, and The Glades stretching along the coastline. High-rise hotels and excellent dining characterize the region. Theme parks and surf beaches add entertainment off the courses.

Melbourne and Sydney serve as hubs to access amazing golf courses spanning coastal gems, sand belt classics, and outback desert tracks. Australia’s friendly hospitality combined with food and wine make it a golfer’s dream vacation.

New Zealand

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand has also emerged as a quality golf vacation spot. From the North Island to the South Island, courses wind through beautiful countryside with beaches, lakes, villages, and mountains creating a memorable backdrop. Premier golf destinations include:

Northland 

The Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand offers outstanding courses like Kauri Cliffs and Waitangi. World-class architects crafted sprawling layouts across coastal farmland with ocean views. Tropical weather allows for year-round play.

Auckland

As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland offers easy access to courses like Gulf Harbour Country Club, Formosa Auckland, and Titirangi. Sweeping vistas of the Hauraki Gulf and excellent public layouts characterize the Auckland golf scene.

Gisborne

On the northeastern coastline, Gisborne is the first city on Earth to see the sun each day. Courses like Springfield Golf Club traverse a pretty countryside of forests, vineyards and beaches. Uncrowded and serene conditions thrill golfers.

Queenstown

In the South Island, Queenstown is set among breathtaking mountain scenery. Jack’s Point and Millbrook Resort provide scenic golf with lake and mountain views. Queenstown also offers skiing, hiking, and excellent dining.

Dunedin

Dunedin is home to prestigious courses like Royal Dunedin and Chisholm Links along the southeastern coastline. Victorian architecture in the city center provides old world charm. Surrounding countryside completes a memorable golf holiday.

From the North Island to the South Island, New Zealand pairs excellent public and resort golf with spectacular natural beauty. Auckland and Queenstown serve as ideal bases to access world-class courses and scenery.

Final Tips

When planning an international golf holiday, allow plenty of time to gain passports and book desired tee times which can fill up quickly at premier courses. Pack proper gear like shoes and clothing that can withstand a variety of weather. Working with a golf travel service provides expertise and convenience. Read up on destination rules, etiquette, and travel requirements.Most importantly, schedule time to soak in the local culture and enjoy leisurely meals. Combining golf, relaxation, and exploration creates amazing memories. Target the best seasons and events to visit top destinations. Seeking new and breathtaking experiences around the world is a thrill every golfer should cherish.

In summary, this guide provides an overview of some of the top international golf holiday destinations across the world, from historic Scotland and Ireland to exotic locations like Thailand and the UAE. Great courses paired with excellent food, scenery and hotels create unforgettable trips. Every golfer deserves to play iconic layouts like Pebble Beach and St Andrews at least once. Planning your next golf getaway abroad will provide amazing experiences to last a lifetime.

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