The game of golf has a long history and strong tradition in Europe; the game as we know it today was born in Scotland. Over 4,000 European golf courses attest to the game’s continued popularity; the game has reached every country in Europe, so you can tee off on the famous and beloved historic courses as well as newly designed greens reflecting current trends in course design.
European golf: all terrain, all year
Golf in Europe is magical, for where else can you play courses situated on the site of Bronze Age settlements, beneath castle walls, or in lava fields and enjoy European history, hospitality and cuisine? Enjoy courses stretching alongside vineyards, orchards and ancient monasteries along the Rhine or on wonderfully windswept island in the Waddnesea.
Ireland alone has more links courses than anywhere else in the world, if you fancy thwacking that ball through seagrass, sand dunes, and wind. Sea air may give you the extra oxygen you need for a good swing, but the mesmerizing ocean views you see over the tip of your golf club may destroy your concentration. In Portugal the 16th hole of the Royal circuit at Vale do Lobo is the most photographed in Europe, its panoramic view of sparkling white sand and deep blue ocean are so arresting. Choose from Atlantic or Mediterranean views in Spain, dotted with golf courses from the Canary Islands to the Costa Brava and the Balearics, not to mention some fantastic inland courses. Malta, Greece and Cyprus all have golf-friendly weather year-round for practicing your swing.
Mountainous regions also offer spectacular, exhilarating and distracting surroundings in which to play golf. Throughout the Alps and Central Europe you’ll find courses nestled between soaring peaks and glacial lakes, often adjacent to thermal spas where you can restore the spring to your step between tee times.
Some truly unusual and memorable golfing opportunities exist in Europe: throughout Scandinavia, play through the night under the summer’s midnight sun. Golfers are so ardent in Europe that even winter doesn’t stop them: in many northern countries, such as Norway and Estonia, you can play golf on snow or ice fields. Don’t worry, the balls are brightly colored.
The heaviest concentration of golf courses is in the western-most European countries, however the sport is growing rapidly in popularity across the continent. The Balkan Peninsula already has several courses in every country, and major golf resort development is underway in Croatia and Montenegro. Newer resorts have purpose-built, state of the art accommodation although historic ones may require you to stay overnight in a chateau or manor house. Darn.
The wonderful thing about so many golf courses in Europe is that fabulous sightseeing surrounds them; there’s no worry about the non-golfers (if there are any) in your party being bored. There are so many choices for golf in Europe there’s sure to be a course to satisfy the golfers in an area that will fascinate everyone with history, culture and natural beauty.
Tournaments and championships
If you like watching the game of golf, Europe has scores of tournaments to keep you entertained. The most famous one is probably the Ryder Cup, English in origin and played in the British Isles bi-annually. The European Golf Federation lists tournaments and courses in most European countries; for local tournaments, check the Tourist Office websites for the countries you are planning to visit; you may even find contests you can participate in yourself!
Travel Tips for European Golf Vacations
The most successful golfing holiday requires detailed planning to make sure you can play the courses on your wish list. Keep in mind that courses in big demand may have entrance requirements such as a certain handicap or a letter of introduction from your home club. Some use a daily lottery to allocate tee times and others can be booked in advance, while others only accept their own members. In some countries, such as Sweden, all visitors are welcome to purchase day use passes. Be sure to check the National Tourist Office websites and local tourist offices for passes offering discounted greens fees to affiliated courses.
It may be your dream to play on a particular course, however golf pros suggest you’ll have the best time if you match the course to your skill level; 18 holes of overly difficult terrain or wind may be more frustrating than fun. Don’t assume that all courses have golf carts, so take available facilities and your fitness level into consideration when deciding where to play.
Traveling with your own clubs may be cumbersome but you’ll fare better with familiar equipment. Whether you choose a hard or soft case for your golf bag depends on how much you want to invest in protecting your clubs when you travel. You can take advantage of leftover space in your golf case to pack golf accessories and keep all your gear together; this will also lighten your other bags. Depending on the luggage rules du jour, you may be required to pay for your clubs as a second piece of luggage, but the comfort of familiar grips and clubs could be well worth it.
Come and play on Europe’s beautiful and world-renowned golf courses for a stellar golfing vacation.