The Pride Of Europe

Here are the cour­ses and re­sorts cho­sen as the best in the UK and the Con­ti­nent in 2016

Golf Asia (Malaysia) - - EUROPE - WORDS KEVIN BROWN

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)

WIN­NER VALDER­RAMA

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 book­ings@ocean­ico­golf.com

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 golf@vdl.pt

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 concierge@golf-na­tional.com

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)

WIN­NER PRINCE’S

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 win­ter­pack­age@stan­drews.com

The top 3 1: St An­drews 24% 2: Gle­nea­gles King’s 15% 3: Carnoustie 14%

BEST RE­SORT (SCOT­LAND)

WIN­NER GLE­NEA­GLES

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.

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