Ten great golfing breaks
Get into the swing on these great golfing holidays around the world
Costa del Sol
With about 300 days of sunshine a year, the Costa del Sol’s enduring popularity amongst golfers is a combination of climate and choice – there are more than 40 golf clubs along the 200km stretch between Nerja and Gibraltar. The most famous of these is Valderrama, but you’ll get strong arguments in favour of the Old Course at San Roque, Royal Sotogrande and the fairly challenging Finca Cortesin. Aer Lingus flights to Malaga from €66. aerlingus.com
Dubai is in the business of golf. The Majilis Course at Emirates Golf Club hosts the Dubai Desert Classic while the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates is the venue for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. These are the courses everyone wants to play, but equally challenging is the Fire course at Emirates GC and the floodlit parkland course designed by Nick Faldo at Jumeirah, where you can play 18 holes at night. Flights to Dubai from Dublin from €500. emirates.com
There’s golf to be played all over the “land of smiles”, but the best concentration of courses is on the outskirts of Pattaya, about two hours’ drive south-east of Bangkok. There are more than 20 top-class courses to choose from, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed Laem Chabang International and the original course at Siam country club. With guaranteed heat and green fees roughly half of what you’d pay for an equivalent quality course in Europe or the Middle East, Thailand is a golfer’s paradise. Flights to Bangkok from €700.
With three outstanding courses within a 20-minute drive of the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi is now a proper destination for both seasoned and casual golfers. The most famous of the three is the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, host of the HSBC Championship and home to a distinctive, falcon-shaped clubhouse. Saadiyat Beach is a an excellent course, but the real treat is the stunning links at Yas Island, which is rated one of the best courses in the Middle East. Flights to Abu Dhabi from €733 return. etihad.com
The Costa’s only sunny European golf rival is the Algarve, where virtually the entire coastline is dotted with courses of varying type and quality. Top of the heap are San Lorenzo in Quinta do Lago and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Monte Rei course, east of Faro in Vila Nova De Cacela, but the Oceanico courses in Vilamoura are also highly rated, especially the Old, Victoria and Faldo. Flights to Faro with Aer Lingus from €56 each way.
The East Lothian coastline in Scotland has an almost uninterrupted line of courses from Musselburgh, just east of Edinburgh, to Dunbar. The bit between Aberlady and Gullane is a kind of golfers’ alley, with seven courses crammed into a four-mile stretch, including Muirfield, (which has limited tee times for visitors), Kilspindie and the three Gullane courses: Number 1 gets most of the plaudits, but the locals prefer Number 2. Flights to Edinburgh with Aer Lingus from €25 each way.
The introduction of direct flights in 2014 opened up exotic Marrakech to the holiday golfer, who has a choice of eight different styles of course within easy reach of the city. From the narrow, tree-lined Royal Golf de Marrakech to the contemporary resort-style Palmeraie course, there’s something to suit every taste and level of play. For organised golf holidays, including accommodation-and-tee times packages, see golfinmorocco.co.uk, an excellent Irish-owned, UK-based operator. Ryanair flights start at €60 each way. ryanair.com
The Orlando area has more than 170 courses, more than 20 academies and is home to more golf pros than any city in the world. Take your pick of courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye or Tom Fazio, but if we could play just one, it would be Panther Lake at Orange County National, although its sister course, Crooked Cat, is almost as special. Flights to Orlando with Aer Lingus from €660 return.
Direct flights to Gdansk make it easy to tee it up on the area’s five golf courses, which offer an exciting and affordable alternative to more established golf destinations. Gdansk Golf & Country Club, more commonly known as Postolowo, is a stunner and a brute, especially off the tips. Also worth checking out are Tokary, Sand Valley and Sierra, all within a short distance of town. Ryanair flies from Dublin to Gdansk from €29 each way.
A week-long holiday would allow you tee it up on a different course every day – and still leave a couple unplayed. The choice is excellent – from the testy, Seve Ballesteros-designed Buenavista course on the island’s northwestern tip to the highly-rated Abama resort just north of Playa de Las Americas, which is one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in all of Spain. Hotels usually offer discounted green fees. Winter golf breaks are available from about €300 for a week. Contact your local tour operator for further details on packages available.