With views over the Atlantic Ocean and two mile stretch courses set against a backdrop of cliff faces and beautiful sunsets, when it comes to Europe’s top golf courses, we really are spoilt for choice.
Golf is certainly considered an affluent sport, one that not only requires patience, a steady hand and perseverance but investment. From the windy highlands of Scotland to the sunny coasts of Spain to the palm tree borders of California, what is the criteria for the perfect golf course? In many cases scenery comes up trumps. Few golfers will feel inspired by a few trees with a rundown hotel in need of a lick of paint behind them. Architecture, or more importantly the architect, is also influential and can have a huge impact on the green fees of a club.
When looking at some of the most influential and expensive golf courses in Europe, Scotland’s courses often appear in Top 100 lists. A round of golf in the summer months at Kingsbarn, seven miles southeast of St. Andrews, will cost up to £215 per person. The course has been played on since 1793, with the Kingsbarn Golf Society one of the earliest golf societies to be established, but has now been renamed the Kingsbarn Golf Club. Founded in 1922, the Kingsbarn Golf Club was designed by Willie Auchterlonie but just 17 years later in 1939, the land was returned to farmland during the Second World War. Today, the 1.8 mile stretch of picturesque North Sea coastline just keeps on bringing golfers back to conquer the 18-hole course. The Kingsbarn Clubhouse hosts big leather armchairs overlooking the spectacular golf course and ocean whilst the balcony provides the perfect outdoor seating area to enjoy a drink after a long day on the course.
PGA CATALUNYA, SPAIN
Moving across the channel to Spain, the PGA Catalunya course, opened in 1998 was designed by Angel Gallardo and Neil Coles. Clever architectural designs are dotted all over the course including large lakes used for semi-island greens with each hole allowing golfers to play from five different tees. PGA Catalunya hosted the 1999 Gene Sarazen World Open and Spanish Open just two years after it opened in April 2000 with the first golf junior academy opening in February 2002 by Sergio Garcia for budding young golfers aged six to 12+. This program helps to fund, develop and promote ‘golf adapted’ courses across Spanish territories for children and maintain social integration of economically disadvantaged children. Over 1100 students have attended the courses to date hoping to become the next Sergio Garcia.
With 300 hectares of land, the PGA Catalunya resort is the home of luxury real estate. Apartments set within the resort, offer spectacular views across the 18-hole course while the spacious semi-detached villas set within private gardens are perfect for a weekend away on the golf course and entertaining friends. Prices for a three night stay in one of the on-site luxury villas inclusive of a round of golf start from £268 per person.
OLD HEAD, IRELAND
Perhaps one of, if not the most expensive golf course in Europe, is aptly placed in the green country of Ireland. The Old Head golf course in County Cork has a price tag of £180 for an 18-hole round in the summer months. Again, it is the breath-taking scenery of the 220-acre course which makes it so popular, stretching two miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The unspoilt cliff line, which reaches up to 300 feet in places, frames the nine-hole course, while the 18-hole course has stunning views overlooking the ocean. The course was designed and constructed with a few extra hands including former designer at Jack Nicklaus’ Golf Design Services, Ron Kirby and Paddy Merrigan – the Australian course architect. Ireland’s golf professional Liam Higgins, former Irish player Eddie Hackett and Dr Joe Carr, Ireland’s most successful international amateur golfer to date, were also involved with the course design with Haulie O’Shea as the on-site building contractor.
After a long day swinging your club, the accommodation at Old Head is steeped in opulence, luxury and grandeur with 15 member’s suites and balcony’s providing stunning sea views across the Atlantic Ocean. To unwind and prepare for another long day of golf, the thermal spa provides a sauna and footbaths with treatment rooms to sooth aching bones and tired limbs. For budding fitness fanatics there is the Old Head fitness suite.
These are just three of the most prevalent golf courses across Europe offering exceptional service, challenging yet irresistible courses and photographic scenery; so, which one will you visit first?