EUROPEAN GOLF DESTINATIONS Take Your Golf Game Overseas
Golf in Europe is a rite of passage for the dedicated player and will elevate one’s status in the eyes of the golf gods. What’s the one question people are always asking on the tee box?
“You played in Ireland? How about Scotland?”
Of course, everyone wants to play golf overseas, but this trip should be handled with care. A little insider advice can go a long way. We suggest Portugal, Spain, Scotland and Ireland, and we’re going to tell you when and where to go. This is the key: the weather in Ireland and Scotland is more erratic than your ex-girlfriend—go there in mid-to-late August or September if you can. It could be perfect in June or July, but the locals will tell you that late August and September are best. Get your passport, here we go!
Two Places to Play in The Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal and it’s known for its Mediterranean beaches and golf resorts. Portugal and Spain are like the Florida of the U.S., people go there for sunshine and the beaches. Frankly, the weather in the U.K., Ireland and The Netherlands is “shite” as they say. In the spring and early summer months, Portugal is most likely a better choice than Ireland or Scotland. It's hard to imagine the Algarve without thinking of golf, yet golf wasn't born on this sunshine coastal area until 1966, when Henry Cotton first laid out the Championship course at Penina. Fast-forward half a century and our alluring region has not only become one of Europe's premier holiday spots, but also an award-winning golf destination, with 43 nine or 18-hole layouts that can be played all-year-round.
Quinta do Logo (Resort), there are three golf courses at this resort, which has hosted eight Portuguese Opens.
San Lorenzo Golf Club, this is one of the most famous golf courses in the Algarve—to play here you must stay at the Dona Filipa Hotel or Amarante Formosa Park Hotel, which is common in Europe and the States as well.
Two Places to Play in Mallorca, Spain
Mallorca is about two hours away from most U.K. airports and the sun shines here over 300 days a year. It is one of Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and is famous for its beaches, resorts, limestone mountains and Roman and Moorish remains. And we love Mallorca because there is quality nightlife—always a plus.
Club de Golf Alcanada, regularly regarded as one of Spain’s best courses, the 7,108-yard, Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed layout in north Mallorca, the only one on the island by the sea.
Golf Son Gual, the golf course here is immaculate and extremely well-manicured. The bunker placement on this golf course is extremely smart. The ongoing debate over which golf course is better, Alcanada or Son Gual? Play them both and decide for yourself.
Two Places to Places to Play in Scotland
You’re not in Algarve anymore—the wind will blow, it may rain and temperatures might dip into the 50’s. Good thing you bought that $400 set of rain gear—even in September, you might need it. This is the home of golf and despite how rough the conditions might be, there will be whisky in the clubhouse. Scotland’s relationships with golf covers six centuries, hell, the game was invented here. There are more than 550 courses to choose from—here are two we suggest. (And they’re only about 20 minutes apart…no problem.)
Old Course at St Andrews, in 1764 the Links at St Andrews (now known as the Old Course) was reduced from 22 holes to 18, creating the standard course format we still use today. Designed by Old Tom Morris, this is the home of golf. And whether you’re even par or 20 over…crossing the Swilican Bridge is a memory that will last forever.
Kingsbarns Golf Links, younger by more than 200 years to the Old Course, this links track is already a legend. Its architect, Kyle Phillips and co-developer Mark Parisen, used modern machines to move dirt and give it a 200-year-old appearance. We love links courses with views of the sea and Kingsbarns has plenty; what a beauty.
Two Places to Places to Play in Ireland
There are two kinds of golf course in Ireland: links and parkland. The parkland golf courses resemble a lot of the courses in the U.S. and who wants to fly for eight hours to play their local municipal? We’re going to play links golf in Northern Ireland, the home of Rory McIlroy.
Royal County Down, regularly regarded as the best golf course in Ireland (and the world), RCD is tricky. It’s known for its blind shots—don’t expect to play well the first time…it takes time. A private club, the membership is the who’s who of Belfast—don’t bother applying, it’s by invite only.
Royal Portrush, this may come as a surprise, but Ireland has only hosted one Open Championship and it was right here at Portrush. Also, a links course like Royal County Down, the journey up north is worth the effort.
In a perfect world, start your Europe golf vacation (holiday) in August in Portugal. Then make your way over to Spain and from there, head north to Scotland and Ireland. And when you get to Scotland and Ireland and it’s cold and blowing…who cares…it’s part of the experience.