The Pride Of Europe
Here are the courses and resorts chosen as the best in the UK and the Continent in 2016
If you’re looking for inspiration for a golf break in 2017, look no further than the golf courses and resorts featured here, winners of Today's Golfer Travel Awards.
These accolades aren’t handed out by a panel of pampered travel writers. Nor are they voted for by millionaire tour players. They’re chosen by normal golfers who’ve paid to play there. That means things like value, service, course conditioning, variety of holes, food, rooms, atmosphere – the things that really matter when you’re on a golf trip – are all part of the mix.
BEST RESORT (SPAIN)
Why it won: It has everything you need for the perfect holiday, golfing or not, on a site three times the size of Monaco. The accommodation on offer, especially in the 192-room five-star Hotel Principe Felipe, is right out of the top drawer and includes the excellent Las Lomas selfcatering apartments. The facilities are worldclass, too, and include three outstanding 18-hole courses (South, North and West) backed up by an impressive new David Leadbetter Academy, a stunning spa, 28-court tennis centre and around 20 restaurants catering for all tastes and budgets. You probably won’t want to leave LMC during your stay, though the nearby cities of Murcia and Cartagena are well worth a visit.
You told us: Clint Gunning, Hindhead
GC, Surrey: “For me, La Manga Club is the perfect place to stay for a group of golfers. The courses are an excellent challenge for varied handicaps and have always been in great condition whenever we’ve visited. A particular plus point is having everything on site... deciding where to eat in the evening is easy due to such choice and there are lots of nice bars to relax in after a day on the course.”
Aaron Taylor, Leatherhead GC, Surrey:
“I can’t recommend La Manga Club highly enough for a perfect getaway for any level of golfer. The hotel boasts great restaurants and bars both outside and inside and is good value compared to most holiday resorts while the courses are in superb condition and allow all handicaps to enjoy them, offering wide fairways and stunning water features to get the heart racing.”
Do it yourself: Five nights’ B&B and four rounds including €60 resort credit costs from €425pp (based on two people sharing a twin/double room staying in Las Lomas Village) with access to the facilities at the fivestar Spa La Manga Club. Call 0034 968 17 5577 or visit www.lamangaclub.com
The top 3 1: La Manga Club 27%
2: Finca Cortesin 18% 3: La Quinta 17%
BEST COURSE (SPAIN)
Why it won: Not so long ago, getting a game at an ultra-exclusive Valderrama was the stuff of dreams. Nowadays, though, Spain’s top track welcomes visitors and though you pay a hefty price for the privilege of teeing it up, it’s worth every single euro – its conditioning is immaculate.
Do it yourself: Three nights’ B&B at Hotel Guadalmina Spa & Golf Resort and two rounds (Valderrama and South course at Guadalmina), costs £579pp. Call Your Golf Travel on 0800 043 6644.
The top 3 1: Valderrama 32% 2: PGA Catalunya 13% 3: San Roque 12%
WINNER LA MANGA CLUB
BEST OVERALL DESTINATION & BEST VALUE DESTINATION
WINNER ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
Why it won: A fantastic double for the awesome Algarve region, which has become the first winner in the new Best Value Destination category as well as picking up the best overall destination prize. After celebrating 50 years of golf on the Algarve since Henry Cotton’s Penina opened in 1966, it is fitting the region should mark its major anniversary in such style.
Wherever you are in the Algarve, you’ll never be too far away from top golf action. There are some fine courses in the east, with the Jack Nicklaus-designed Monte Rei the stand-out – a second course is on the way there. Head west and you will encounter three contrasting nines at Palmares, modern resort layout Boavista and the fast-improving Espiche, near Lagos.
However, most visiting golfers head for bustling centrally-based Vilamoura, a short drive from Faro airport and home to an impressive array of courses, including the magical Old Course and Portugal Masters host venue Victoria. A short drive away you’ll find the legendary resorts of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, which provide a collection of quality tracks.
Do it yourself: Three nights’ half-board at Morgado G&CC and two rounds costs from £249pp. Call Your Golf Travel on 0800 043 6644. The top 3 Best Overall Destination 1: Algarve 48% 2: Costa del Sol 11% 2: Murcia 11%
Best Value Destination 1: Algarve 24% 2: Turkey 20% 3: Murcia 13%
BEST COURSE (PORTUGAL)
WINNER VILAMOURA OLD
Why it won: The grand old lady again left all other Algarve courses trailing with its charm and character. Frank Pennink’s masterpiece manoeuvres across gently rolling terrain and is flanked by rows of umbrella pines and even though it’s as busy as the M25, it is always in terrific shape from tee to green. It has been entertaining golfers from all over Europe since 1969, making it the Algarve’s second oldest course. Do it yourself: Play three rounds from €186, five rounds from €382 and seven rounds from €482 (valid Mar-Oct). To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The top 3 1: Vilamoura Old 29% 2: Monte Rei and Praia D’El Rey 13%
BEST RESORT (PORTUGAL)
WINNER VALE DO LOBO
Why it won: It’s been around for just over half a century and is a sensational resort with everything you need for a great break, including two courses (Royal & Ocean), both with bags of pedigree and featuring spectacular holes next to the Atlantic.
Though they both see a lot of traffic, the courses are always in great shape. They are superbly supported by a variety of classy accommodation options and world-class amenities including a tennis centre and private beach next to an outdoor pool and a complex of bars, shops and restaurants.
Do it yourself: Foursomes week Play & Stay offer costs €759 for the week and includes accommodation, golf, welcome cocktail & prizegiving dinner. To book call 00351 289 353 463 or email email@example.com
The top 3 1: Vale do Lobo 18% 2: Penha Longa 12% 3: Dom Pedro Vilamoura 11%
BEST COURSE (FRANCE)
WINNER PARIS NATIONAL
Why it won: It’s getting ready to stage the 2018 Ryder Cup and the dramatic and water-strewn inland links, jointly created by Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge, is guaranteed to deliver an exciting spectacle. The Albatross course is a masterpiece of a layout with plenty of water hazards, strategically-placed bunkers and big, well-protected greens. It has benefited from a €7m upgrade and is expected to be busy this season with golfers from all over Europe looking to play it before the
Ryder Cup. Also on site is a Novotel hotel and another, gentler 18-hole course (L’aigle).
Do it yourself: Overnight B&B at hotel Novotel and a round on the Albatross course costs from €193 per person (Fr-Sun until Jul 31, double room sharing). Call 0033 13043 3600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The top 3 1: Paris National 39% 2: Le
Touquet (Mer) 17% 3: Fontainebleau 9%
BEST RESORT (FRANCE)
WINNER LE MANOIR
Why it won: Another win for Le Manoir which is so popular among Brits making the short trip across the Channel to northern France. It’s a lovely, three-star 20th century Anglo-Norman country house hotel which provides excellent comfort and value. It also happens to be conveniently located close to the centre of chic Le Touquet, with its popular contrasting Sea and Forest courses. Le Manoir has 41 rooms plus its own nine-hole course, a highly-rated restaurant, outdoor heated pool, tennis court and snooker room.
Do it yourself: Two nights’ B&B at Le Manoir, welcome dinner and three rounds (groups of four) at Le Touquet Forest and Sea and
Les Dunes or Les Pines at Hardelot, plus Eurotunnel crossing, costs from £245pp. To book call Your Golf Travel on 0800 193 6629. The top 3 1: Le Manoir 20% 2: Evian Resort 16% 3: Terre Blanche Resort 14%
BEST COURSE (NORTHERN ENGLAND)
WINNER ROYAL BIRKDALE
Why it won: In many eyes it’s the No.1 course in England and the shining star of England’s Golf Coast. It weaves through towering dunes with the firm, fast and springy fairways cutting through the wild grasses leading to subtly contoured greens. Birkdale is of course a respected Open venue and will guarantee a memorable event when the oldest Major returns there in the summer.
Do it yourself: One night’s B&B at Best Western Royal Clifton Hotel, two rounds (Birkdale & Hillside) costs £289pp in Oct (Sun-Fri based on two sharing). Green fee at Birkdale includes a soup-and-sandwich lunch. To book call 01704 807800.
The top 3 1: Royal Birkdale 39% 2: Royal Lytham 15% 3: Royal Liverpool 7%
BEST RESORT (NORTHERN ENGLAND)
WINNER SLALEY HALL
Why it won: Located in a remote, but picture-postcard corner of Northumberland amid 1,000 acres of moorland and forest, Slaley is a luxury QHotels Edwardian mansion hotel with top facilities, most notably a pair of stunning but contrasting 18-hole courses (Hunting and Priestman). The former layout, designed by Dave Thomas, has seen main European Tour action and has been labelled the Augusta of the North. Do it yourself: Stay-and-play packages cost from £99pp based on one night’s dinner, B&B and two rounds (one on each of the Hunting and Priestman). To book call 0845 034 5777. The top 3 1: Slaley Hall 25% 2: The Mere 21% 3: Carden Park & Close House 11%
BEST COURSE (SOUTHERN ENGLAND)
Why it won: Overlooked by illustrious Kent coast neighbours Royal St George’s and
Royal Cinque Ports, Prince’s is something of a surprise winner of this hotly contested category. That said, many who know it and have experienced it won’t be surprised at all, as Prince’s is an outstanding links in its own right. It has staged an Open (1932, won by Gene Sarazen) and, unlike the nearby Royals, it boasts 27 holes (Shore, Dunes and Himalayas nines) along with splendid on-site accommodation The Lodge, which offers 38 en-suite bedrooms.
Do it yourself: One night’s B&B (April) at The Lodge at Prince’s and two rounds costs from £140pp (based on two sharing a standard twin or double room). Call 01304 611118.
The top 3 1: Prince’s 22% 2: Sunningdale Old 20% 3: The Grove 12%
BEST RESORT (SOUTHERN ENGLAND)
WINNER THE GROVE
Why it won: Everything about the venue oozes quality. The service is everything you’d expect from a resort dubbed
London’s Country Club, providing luxury accommodation with all mod cons, a sumptuous spa and of course the Kyle Phillips-designed course, which burst onto the scene in 2006 when Tiger Woods romped to a memorable World Golf Championship victory. The course has a great variety of holes, is always in immaculate condition and returned to the big-time in 2016 when it successfully staged the British Masters.
Do it yourself: One night’s B&B in a superior room and round of golf, plus complimentary use of leisure facilities, costs £170pp SunThurs (Feb-Mar). Call 01923 296010.
The top 3 1: The Grove 29% 2: The Lodge at Prince’s 26% 3: Stoke Park 15%
BEST COURSE (WESTERN ENGLAND) & BEST RESORT (WESTERN ENGLAND)
WINNER ST MELLION INTERNATIONAL Why it won: It’s the home of the superb Nicklaus course, the Golden Bear’s first creation on these shores and arguably one of England’s most demanding inland layouts. It certainly proved a hard nut to crack when it was a regular European Tour venue in the 1990s. The neighbouring Kernow course provides the ideal warm-up. The impressively upgraded hotel offers smart accommodation and first-rate leisure amenities.
Do it yourself: Exclusive offer for readers; Book a Sunday Driver package (including one night’s dinner, B&B based on twin share in resort hotel room, 18 holes on both the Nicklaus & Kernow courses) from £119 and as a reader you will be invited to a FREE golf coaching session (20-30mins) on Sunday before your first round. To book call 01579 352001 and quote TG.
The top 3 Course 1: St Mellion 28% 2: Royal North Devon 20% 3: Saunton East 14% Hotel/Resort 1: St Mellion 26% 2: Trevose 24% 3: Bovey Castle 14%
BEST COURSE (EAST & MIDLANDS)
WINNER WOODHALL SPA
Why it won: Tight, heather and pine-lined fairways, enormous bunkers and slick greens make Woodhall a fabulous challenge, and it’s a staple in the upper echelons of every Top 100 list. Perhaps even more surprising is that it’s not exclusive, and doesn’t command a massive green fee. It’s the home of England Golf, so couldn’t be more accommodating, and if you’re a member of an English club you can play this phenomenal course for £55 this winter. Just be prepared for a bit of work going on as top course designer Tom Doak is currently making the place even better.
Do it yourself: One night’s B&B (local partner hotel) and a round on the Hotchkin and Bracken costs from £137 (until Apr 30). Call 01526 352511.
The top 3 1: Woodhall Spa 27% 2: The Belfry 17% 3: Sherwood Forest 8%
BEST RESORT (EAST & MIDLANDS)
WINNER FOREST OF ARDEN
Why it won: Class Marriott country club in Warwickshire’s finest countryside, boasting two 18-hole layouts (Arden & Aylesford) along with excellent accommodation and facilities including the Cedarwood Spa. Main attraction though is the challenging Donald Steeldesigned Arden layout (it staged the British Masters three times), which runs through the Packington Estate and has a terrific variety of holes, including a thrilling par-3 finale, and pacey greens. It must be good to have knocked famous West Midlands neighbour The Belfry off top spot in this category.
Do it yourself: Two nights’ B&B, three-course dinner & three rounds (two on Aylesford, one on Arden) costs from £218pp. To book call 01676 526113.
The top 3 1: Forest of Arden 38%
2: The Belfry 26% 3: Forest Pines 18%
BEST COURSE (SCOTLAND)
WINNER ST ANDREWS (OLD course)
Why it won: It’s the Home of Golf, and there’s nothing like it anywhere on earth. From the moment you tee off in front of that imposing R&A clubhouse to the walk off the 18th tee over the Swilken Bridge, you’re treading in the footsteps of every great golfer who’s ever played the game – barring poor old Ben Hogan. It hosts the Open every five years, and is home to some of the most iconic names in golf history... Coffin bunker, the Road Hole, the Valley of Sin. Do it yourself: The St Andrews Links Winter Package offers a guaranteed tee-time on the Old and a round on two other St Andrews Links courses and is available for golfers booking accommodation in St Andrews or north-east Fife. From £125pp, with a complimentary £15 catering voucher redeemable in one of the three clubhouses. Email email@example.com
The top 3 1: St Andrews 24% 2: Gleneagles King’s 15% 3: Carnoustie 14%
BEST RESORT (SCOTLAND)
Why it won: A Perthshire golfing paradise, with three stunning 18-hole courses, amazing scenery and one of the best hotels in the world. It’s known as the Palace in the Glens for very good reason. Set in 850 acres of wondrous countryside overlooked by the Ochil hills, it will blow you away whether you’re playing the King’s, Queen’s or Ryder Cuphosting PGA Centenary courses.
Do it yourself: Overnight B&B, round on the PGA Centenary, King’s or Queen’s, use of the club leisure facilities, costs from £375 per room per night. Readers receive a complimentary room upgrade at the time of booking when quoting Today’s Golfer. To book call 0800 704705.
The top 3 1: Gleneagles 36% 2: Old Course Hotel 14% 3: Cameron House at Loch Lomond 13%
BEST COURSE (WALES)
WINNER ROYAL PORTHCAWL Why it won: This legendary links has retained this title and deservedly so. It guarantees a memorable, challenging but fair round and is always in great condition. It was handed royal status by King Edward VII in 1909 and hasn’t looked back, staging some of the biggest events – amateur and professional – in golf, including six Amateur Championships and the 2014 British Senior Open, won by Bernhard Langer. We’d love to see an Open here.
Do it yourself: Two nights’ B&B at Dragon Hotel, Swansea, and two rounds (Royal Porthcawl & Pyle & Kenfig) costs from £225pp. Call Your Golf Travel on 0800 193 6629.
The top 3 1: Royal Porthcawl 39% 2: Celtic Manor 33% 3: Royal St David’s and Nefyn & District 6%
BEST RESORT (WALES)
WINNER CELTIC MANOR
Why it won: The Newport venue continues to capitalise on its hosting of the 2010 Ryder Cup, romping to another decisive victory in this category. Just a wedge away from the M4, the resort is a golfing paradise in the form of three 18-hole layouts, including the Twenty Ten Ryder Cup course which is nobly supported by the Roman Road and Montgomerie. You’ve a choice of two hotels with a total of 400 rooms, classy self-catering in the Hunter Lodges a wide range of amenities and facilities.
Do it yourself: One night’s B&B and two rounds (Roman Road & Montgomerie) costs £73pp. Call Your Golf Travel on 0800 043 6644.
The top 3 1: Celtic Manor 65% 2: Marriott St Pierre 13% 3: The Vale 12%
BEST COURSE (IRELAND)
WINNER ROYAL COUNTY DOWN
Why it won: It’s a world-class links, simple as that, arguably in the top 10 on the planet. Flanked by the Irish Sea and overlooked by the Mountains of Mourne, County Down has many big admirers including five-times Open champion Tom Watson, who regards the front nine as “as fine a nine holes as I’ve ever played”.
It was originally laid out by Old Tom Morris – perhaps the best four guineas a club has ever spent – though to be fair most of the work was done by Mother Nature, with towering sand dunes lining many holes.
Do it yourself: Two nights’ B&B at Slieve Donard Resort & Spa and three rounds (Ardglass, Annesley Links & Championship Links at Royal County Down) costs from £329pp (weekend supplements apply). Call Your Golf Travel on 0800 043 6644.
The top 3 1: Royal County Down 23%
2: K Club 17% 3: Portmarnock Old 12%
BEST RESORT (IRELAND)
WINNER K CLUB
Why it won: The luxury County Kildare bolthole swept to another convincing win in this category. It has gone from strength to strength since opening in 1991 and of course the thrilling Palmer course was the scene of Europe’s famous Ryder Cup success in 2006. Set in 550 acres of scenic countryside beside the River Liffey and just 30 minutes from Dublin, the five-star resort also boasts a world-class spa and an outstanding second course (Smurfit).
Do it yourself: One night’s B&B and two rounds (Smurfit & Palmer) costs £229pp, and one in 12 goes free. Call Your Golf Travel on 0800 043 6644. The top 3 1: K Club 52% 2: Doonbeg 11%
3: Portmarnock Hotel Links 10%
La Manga Has everything a golfer could need – sun, sand and three 18-hole courses.
Vale do Lobo There’s quantity and quality on the Algarve.
Paris National - The 2018 Ryder Cup venue.
Royal Birkdale Preparing to host the Open Championship for the 10th time this summer.
The Old Course Ben Hogan really missed out.
Forest of Arden Tranquility in the heart of the Midlands.
Royal County Down One of the world’s best courses.
Royal Porthcawl The best course in the Principality.
Gleneagles Three top courses and a superb hotel.
Celtic Manor Voted Wales’ best golf resort.