Many European wine regions are also home to excellent golf courses. Rob Smith of Golf Monthly chooses a selection
Golf and wine enjoy a long-standing and perfect partnership for a variety of reasons. Culturally, this historically affluent sport was enjoyed by those who liked the finer things in life. In terms of climate and geography, some of the world’s most successful and popular vineyards have been neighbours to many great courses. More recently, an increasing number of golf’s superstars such as Greg Norman in Australia, Ernie Els in South Africa and Luke Donald in California have also been making some excellent wines.
Catalonia and cava
Catalonia is the home of cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and it has also become known for a wide range of quality still wines made from both native and international grapes. To the east of the region, PGA Catalunya Resort is one of Europe’s leading modern golf resorts with two excellent courses. The better-known is the superb Stadium Course which hosts many leading events, while the Tour Course is just a touch shorter and a little less demanding making it the perfect complement. The five-star Hotel Camiral recently opened here and there has also been investment in many off-course activities making this a perfect place to stay.
Not far away, Golf de Pals is a tight, tree-lined course right next to the beach. Here, the umbrella pines put a premium on accuracy rather than length. Meanwhile, located near Tarragona is the large-scale Lumine Beach & Golf Community, which has three remarkably varied and different courses on site. The Lakes is a Greg Norman design, which runs between lakes and marshland; the Hills is an undulating parkland course that offers up lovely vistas; and finally the Ruins is a delightful nine-hole par-34 course running through an ancient Roman archaeological site.
Bouquets of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is one of the world’s most celebrated winemaking regions, producing an estimated 700 million bottles each year – both red and white. One of the best clubs in the area is Golf du Médoc, which boasts two courses, the Châteaux and the Vignes. The wine theme is prevalent throughout with each of the 36 holes named after one of the local vineyards, and the two different courses are packed with interest and beauty.
Biarritz, one of Bordeaux’s most stylish and chic towns, is home to excellent bars, restaurants and hotels – making it an ideal base for a stay in the region. There are several top-notch courses nearby, with the closest being Golf de Biarritz Le Phare (‘the lighthouse’) an attractive British ex-pat creation that dates back to 1888.
Meanwhile, located a little way up the coast, Golf de Moliets offers something completely different, with its thrilling changes of scenery as you work your way across a course that travels through a dense pine forest, out onto the sandy shoreland, and then back again. Great fun!
England is home to a growing wine scene and Kent boasts award-winning vineyards such as Chapel Down and Hush Heath. It’s also home to the only course south of Lancashire currently on the Open Championship roster: The Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich. Golf’s oldest Major returns to this magnificent links for the 15th time in 2020, a sign of the severe test and first-class design, conditioning and facilities on offer at this historic club.
Down the coast is another former Open Championship venue, Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club at Deal. This terrific out and back links has one of the toughest finishes anywhere, with the closing seven holes all playing directly into a southerly wind. Regardless, it is wonderful golf.
Kent offers plenty more delightful parkland and cliff-top courses. A superb example of the former is the Abercromby design at Knole Park Golf Club near Sevenoaks. Laid out over an ancient deer park, it has excellent views of Knole House and the local countryside, and is pure entertainment from start to finish.
Green Fees: €78 (£67)
GF: €79 (£68)
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GF: €105 (£91)
GF: €107-€147 (£93-£127)
GF: £60-£85 (£52-£74)
GF: £150-£180 (£130-£156)
GF: £210 (£182)
Rob Smith is contributing editor at Golf Monthly and has played over 1,000 golf courses worldwide.