Adventures in Golf: Devastation at a Hawaiian Golf Gem

On the picturesque island of Maui, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, lies the small town of Lahaina. Amidst this backdrop is a golf course that is not only a dream location for golf lovers, but also a symbol of a community’s strength and determination in the face of tragedy. In the new season of Adventures in Golf, Erik Anders Lang tells the story of Kapalua – a golf course in the place that was the scene of the deadliest wildfire disaster in America in the century.

Maui devastated by forest fire

In August 2023, images of the devastating forest fires on Maui, which almost completely destroyed some places on the island, went around the world. Lang, who usually visits the golf courses directly on his travels, first meets Archie, a local leader and water activist who was one of the first to take a stand against the fire. “The reason for this fire was a lack of water,” he explains. Kapalua and the surrounding communities were threatened by the dry heat of the fire. Now Archie and his fellow campaigners are working to reclaim the water they so desperately needed. Steve Sims, a former Air Force veteran and lover of Hawaiian culture, whom Lang meets next, has also joined the fight. Together they are now working to restore the island’s water sources and bring the vital rivers and streams back to life.

Adventures in Golf: The history of golf in Kapalua

One of the most fascinating personalities in Kapalua’s history is golf legend Arnold Palmer. Palmer played a crucial role in the development of the Kapalua Golf Course in its early days. His dedication and passion for the game was instrumental in making Kapalua the renowned golf destination it is today. Mark Raling, a legend in the golf commentary circuit, has also been instrumental in shaping the history of golf on Maui. Among other things, Raling was the tournament director of the first international tournament on the golf course, the Kapalua International. Since the early days of the event, which began in the 1980s, the golf course has had a long tradition of top-class competitions. One of the most famous tournaments is the annual Tournament of Champions, formerly known as The Plantation Course Championship. This event marks the official start of the PGA Tour season and attracts the best golfers in the world. In the video, Raling recalls the humble beginnings of Kapalua Golf Course in the 1970s. “We basically started from nothing and built this little community,” he says.

The Kapalua Golf Course on Maui. (Source Youtube, Adventures in Golf, Skratch)

The importance of Kapalua extends far beyond golf. After the devastating fire, the resort opened its doors to those who had lost everything. Harrison Delgado, Director of Room Operations at the Ritz Carlton, right on the golf course, remembers the emotional time after the fire. “The tables were covered with blankets and pillows, and it was a free space for anyone who needed help,” he says. “It was about supporting each other in a time of need and being a community.” Despite the tragedy and loss, Kapalua has shown amazing resilience. Tanata, principal of a local school, proudly recounts how the school reopened just three weeks after the fire, providing a stable environment for the children. “Our school is more than just an educational institution,” she says, “it’s a place of hope and cohesion that helps the children get through the difficult times.”


Golf Travel to Ras Al Khaimah: An Emirate full of interesting surprises

The Al Hamra Golf Club is hosting a DP World Tour tournament for the third time. After the first two tournaments in Dubai, the European Tour is making a stop in the northernmost of the seven Emirates as part of the International Swing, which is being organised for the first time this year. We make our way there and land in Dubai in less than six hours, and from there, we continue northwards by car in just under an hour.  

Impressive architecture in a style typical of the country

Everything here is more tranquil than in the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai. No skyscrapers dominate the skyline, instead more normal sized buildings. One of the few exceptions is the five-star luxury hotel Waldorf Astoria, built in 2013 in the shape of an Arabian palace, which can be seen from afar.

An architectural masterpiece. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

An extensive renovation of the hotel, part of the Hilton Group, was completed just in time for the tournament. Several areas, including some new ones, now shine in new splendour. Its tastefully furnished 203 rooms and suites offer plenty of space and views of the sea or the golf course.

Imposing reception area and impressive lobby. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Our welcome at the hotel is extremely warm. As soon as we enter the lobby, we are overwhelmed by the magnificence and opulence of the palace and the hospitality of the staff. In the centre of the lobby sits a remarkable giant clock, a trademark apparently of every Waldorf Astoria hotel. 

Our room is decorated in subtle colours whilst the bathroom, on the other hand, is a different story altogether with its black marble and golden mosaics. From the box seats on the terrace of our extensive room on the 7th floor, we enjoy a panoramic view of the second and third holes of the Al Hamra golf championship course.

King Premier Golf Course View Room. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Tournament with strong German participants

As accredited representatives of the press, we are up close and personal for the two final rounds of the tournament. Although admission is free, the reasonable number of spectators  allows us to experience the golf professionals up close. The winner of the tournament is the Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who prevails over his compatriot Rasmus Højgaard with a sensational 27 under par and is the proud recipient of the winner’s trophy. We follow these two and Frenchman Frederic Lacroix in the last flight on the final day from the start and are repeatedly impressed by the incredible length of their shots. 

Olesen goes into the final round with a four-shot lead over Højgaard. He halved this lead on the second hole with an unexpected double bogey. At the eighth hole, both are level on 22 under par when the preliminary decision of the tournament is made. Højgaard misses his tee shot and makes an unexpected bogey on the par 5. Olesen, on the other hand, bangs his second shot next to the flag and holes out for an eagle. Out of the blue, he is three up again. Højgaard never recovers from this and finishes the tournament six shots behind his direct rival.  

Beaming winner and enthusiastic volunteers. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Five of the German professionals make the cut. Max Kieffer and Yannik Paul played outstanding final rounds of six and four under par respectively and shared a fantastic fourth place with three other players on 17 under par. Marcel Siem manages an eagle on the final hole, which catapults him up to tied 37th place, where Freddy Schott also finishes. Max Rottluff is tied 59th.

Golf Travel: A sporting challenge for all HCP classes

We play the par 72 course, designed by the internationally recognised golf course architect Peter Harradine, on the days following the tournament and can now see for ourselves what a great achievement the professionals have accomplished. Whilst they had 7,400 yards (the longest course in the UAE) to cover, we have 6,703 from the white tees and 5,815 from the red tees. Indeed five different tees offer a suitable challenge for every skill level.

The mostly flat course, which was established in 2007, continues to be in sensational condition during our rounds and everything is top-notch and well maintained. This makes golfing fun. The course is run by Troon Golf, a company that stands for top quality. We encounter wide fairways, huge bunkers and large, firm and fast greens.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of sand on a course surrounded by desert. A total of five million cubic metres were moved to build the course. The fine powder in the bunkers, next to the fairways and in the numerous waste areas makes playing from these a real challenge. The neighbouring development with mostly two-storey buildings in the typical local style is discreet and at a sufficient distance from the fairways.

Sand to the max. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The routing runs through four interconnected lagoons in the Arabian Gulf, which often come into play. This is the case for the first time on the third hole. On the right-hand dogleg par 5, the tee shot has to be played over the damp water, as does the shot into the green. For us, this hole is one of the most beautiful, also because it offers a great view of the Waldorf Astoria.

A rocky road to the green of hole 3. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The other holes are mostly dead straight and allow for a good score.We also like the tenth, where we have to place our shots into the green perfectly over a frontal water hazard and a bunker behind it.

Attention at hole 10. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The 18th hole is the crowning glory of the round. The 576-yard, par 5 is accompanied by the bright blue waters of the lagoon over the entire right-hand side. The opposite side is lined with trees that reach right up to the huge bunker in front of the green. The slightly elevated green, which rises towards the back, allows an aggressive attack that can be rewarded with a birdie or at least a par.

Full concentration at the final hole. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Afterwards, we enjoy a refreshing beer on the terrace of the clubhouse. The building’s normality is impressive and it doesn’t stand out due to its size or unusual architecture.

Our evening round under floodlights is an interesting experience, even if it is not easy for us to get used to the unfamiliar circumstances at first.

Nightgolf – a special experience. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The Al Hamra Golf Club attaches great importance to sustainability. It is the first golf club in the Middle East to be run completely plastic-free. It sets a new standard in this respect and thus contributes to the global environmental protection initiative.

Records by the dozen

After our laps, we enjoy the hotel’s own stretch of beach and the adults-only Sunset Beach Lounge with infinity pool. A promenade is being built between the beach and the hotel complex, connecting the neighbouring hotels and inviting walkers and joggers. From here, it will be even easier to watch an absolute highlight along the coast. Stretching for more than 4.5 kilometres, Ras Al Khaimah’s famous New Year’s Eve Fireworks displays have achieved several Guiness World Record titles for five consecutive years.

Like everything else in the hotel, there is plenty of space in the two pool areas and on the beach. The sun loungers and parasols are generously placed apart from each other and offer plenty of privacy. Everything here is also extremely well maintained and of a top standard.

Top culinary delights too

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel has eight restaurants, bars and lounges. The elegant Lexington Grill & Bar offers the finest Wagyu dry-aged steaks and seafood, the UMI serves Japanese delicacies, the brand new Azure serves Mediterranean dishes and the Beach Club Lounge has a little bit of everything. Everywhere we go, we encounter high quality, although this comes at a price, higher than what we are used to in Germany.

The attentiveness , friendliness and politeness of the entire staff is striking. We quickly become accustomed used to their constant smiles and the reserved, warm demeanour, which we would not want to miss. 

Plenty of adrenaline on a ride into the depths

Another world record is held by the Jais Flight zipline on the nearby Jebel Jais in the Hajar Mountains. From the start at a height of just under 1,680 meters, you can plunge headfirst into the depths for almost three minutes at a top speed of up to 160 km per hour. With a length of more than 2.8 kilometres, it is the longest of its kind in the world.

Not for the faint-hearted. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

To get in the mood for this adrenaline rush, the toboggan run located on the way up is ideal for reaching a maximum speed of 40 km/h downhill.

Who brakes is a coward. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

After these experiences, we stop at the highest restaurant in the United Arab Emirates, which is named ‚1848 by Puro‘ after its height above sea level. The view from here of the Hajar Mountains stretching out before us is sensational. 

However, a stay in the mountains offers much more. Various trekking tours and survival training courses lasting from several hours to a full day are offered here. You spend the night in tents in appropriate camps. The annual Highlander adventure attracts a large number of enthusiastic nature lovers who push themselves to the limit in the rugged mountain landscape.

Ras Al Khaimah holds another unique experience, as it was here that pearls were dived for several thousand years ago. Today, the pearls are cultivated in a lagoon. We take a traditional boat from the harbour to the floating information centre of the Suwaidi Pearls Farm, where we learn all about pearl diving and cultivation. Suddenly, a huge flock of flamingos flies past us. The pearls obtained from the oysters here have a maximum size of 13 mm. We are lucky because in the one we are allowed to harvest, we find a small specimen that we can buy.

Unique in colour, shine, size and shape. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Haste is the order of the day

Our stay in RAK was a complete success. In addition to the golfing highlights, we got to know parts of the Emirate that we hadn’t expected, but we were absolutely thrilled by them. The unaccustomed tranquility and deceleration we encountered were a pleasure. 

This may change in the future, as the construction boom has also started here. Tourism currently accounts for 5% of the gross national product. There are currently around 8,000 hotel rooms, but the aim is to increase this share to 30 % by 2030 and double the number of rooms. So let’s head to Ras Al Khaimah before things get too developed there and perhaps one day become just as hectic as in the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai.

Juergen Linnenbuerger, Cologne/Germany, February 2024

Europe Travel

Camiral Golf & Wellness: Spain’s No.1 among World’s Top 20 Golf Resorts

As it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2024, Camiral Golf & Wellness has continued its reign as Spain’s No.1 Golf Resort in the new World Top 100 Golf Resorts, published by Golf World. Part of the European Tour Destinations network, the resort formerly known as PGA Catalunya, has risen in the new listing, placing 17th, reinforcing its position as a must-visit destination for discerning international golf travellers.

The Camiral Golf & Wellness at the gates of Girona

Golf World’s Top 100 Resorts editor, Chris Bertram, said: “Camiral Golf & Wellness has been one of Europe’s leading golf destinations for over two decades, but it is now so much more than ‘just’ one of the best places on the continent to play the game. Its two world-class golf courses and the two onsite hotels – the uber-stylish and luxurious Hotel Camiral and the beautiful LAVIDA – and the amenities they boast, have turned it into a first-class contemporary leisure and wellness resort that is attracting an ever-increasing number of international customers.”

Tour Course at Camiral Golf & Wellness. (Photo: Jacob Sjöman)

A recent investment in sustainability, which will help reduce water consumption on both the Stadium and Tour courses by 35%, includes the implementation of a more drought-and heat-resistant turf variety, a reduction in irrigated areas, and a study to update the resort’s irrigation system with the latest water-saving technology.

It is the latest action that has helped Camiral Golf & Wellness also earn a place in the inaugural ‘Green 100’ listing by Today’s Golfer magazine, in association with GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf, recognising the most sustainable golf venues in Europe.

Commenting on this latest global accolade, David Plana, Camiral Golf & Wellness CEO, said: “For more than two decades, we have sought to offer guests and residents the finest resort experience in Spain, and this has been duly confirmed by the new World Top 100 Golf Resorts listing. As we welcome our landmark 25-year milestone, we continue to invest to elevate the visitor, resident and member experience. During 2024, projects will include the renovation of our Clubhouse at the beginning of the year, the implementation of a Trackman range in our Golf Hub, as well as continued work around the resort to ensure that we are operating sustainably – all demonstrating our long-term commitment to being a leading international golf and wellness destination.”

The 5* Hotel Camiral at Camiral Golf & Wellness. (Photo: Jacob Sjöman)

Beyond the fairways, Camiral Golf & Wellness offers many sport and leisure facilities, a wide range of dining experiences and luxurious wellbeing treatments at the state-of-the-art Wellness Centre, where guests indulge in treatments from whole-body cryotherapy to holistic massages.

Located just outside the gastronomic city of Girona and just one hour from Barcelona, Camiral Golf & Wellness is a world-class retreat for golfers, sports enthusiasts, wellness retreat seekers and their families.

Text: Camiral Golf & Wellness


Breathtakingly beautiful: The first Links Golf Course in the Indian Ocean

In his report, Juergen Linnenbuerger, introduces the impressive newcomer to the Heritage Golf Club and the Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort, which leaves nothing to be desired.

Golfing in paradise

Officially, the brand new La Réserve Golf Links, the 11th golf course on the island, will not open until December 2023 so I am all the more excited when we are invited to play the course during the soft opening in October.

I am extremely curious to see whether it will live up to the great praise with which it has been showered by experts and the golf media. Already it is considered one of the best new golf courses in the world. Have the South African golf pro and The Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, and his compatriot, the well-known golf course architect, Peter Matkovich, really created something extraordinary?

Anticipation and excitement mount

On the non-stop flight from Frankfurt/Main to the east coast of the island, I ask myself what I can expect from the links golf course in the tropical paradise.

But the reflection doesn’t last long, because I quickly fall asleep after the delicious meal in the almost two-metre-long, completely flat prime seat, of which there are only four! They are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and located in the front row of Condor Business Class. Their spaciousness exceeds that of the other seats in this class, especially in the foot area. You can even sit two to a seat opposite each other.

Without a doubt, they are the highlight of the airline’s new aircraft, the A330-900neo. Its two-tone striped livery reminds us of candy canes. Ours is coloured in white and green and conveys a joyful vacation mood as soon as we board.

The friendly crew impresses us with their perfect service. Entertainment is also writ large; we can watch movies in cinema quality on the 4K screen with a diagonal of 61 cm whilst a range of additional services perfectly rounds off the positive flight experience. The 11.5 hours literally fly by.

The resort shuttle takes us to Bel Ombre on the picturesque southwest side of the island in just over an hour. The 2,500-hectare Heritage Golf & Wellness Resort, located directly on the sea, includes two five-star luxury hotels, Le Telfair and Awali, as well as two impressive championship golf courses.

Driveway to the Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

We were lucky enough to get to know the Le Château Course, the first course of the Heritage Golf Club, back in 2019. I present the course, which on several occasions has been declared the best golf course in the Indian Ocean.s

Pure golfing drama

It takes us less than 15 minutes by golf buggy from the clubhouse of Le Château Course to the first tee of the new La Réserve Golf Links. This is located at the highest point of the course, about 180 m above sea level where it is cooler and windier than in the resort. From there, the course descends over three plateaus at different heights until you reach the last hole.

The moment we step onto the first tee, we are struck by the wow factor which lasts until the final putt. From each of the holes, we gaze out over the deep blue Indian Ocean in the distance. Strikingly, the course is completely open, with a few trees only present between the eighth and ninth hole.

Right from the start, full concentration is required. The tee shot on the first hole has to be hit into the sideways sloping fairway into a strong wind with the rough waiting on the right and two hillsbguarding the green. How do we tackle that?

Well guarded green of #1 (Photo: Heritage Golf Club/Jacob Sjöman)

This question arises not only on every hole, but on every shot as each hole is different and extremely challenging. When choosing a club, less is more. Irons instead of the driver are often the better solution especially on the second hole, which runs straight but extremely narrow between dunes.

Long and narrow: #2, the most difficult hole of the course (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The third continues the series of impressive holes on the front nine with a dramatic precipice on the right that has a magical attraction. If you hit the landing zone on the plateau, all is well with the world, but you first have to get there against the prevailing wind. More golfing drama at the beginning of a round is hardly possible.

View from tee #3 (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

We pause to enjoy the great routing of the course and its magnificent views. The deep green of the fairways, the blue sea sparkling in the background with the brilliant white clouds above it and the white-yellow sand of the bunkers combine to form a colour composition that will delight golf course aesthetes. Added to this is the dark green Savanna Mountain Range that acts as a backdrop to the course and the adjacent nature reserve, which make the picture perfect.

The following par 3 requires a precise tee shot into the humpy green. If not successful, your ball can quickly end up out of bounds or in one of the pot bunkers. However, the magnificent view of the Baie du Jacotet with the snow-white crests of the rolling waves compensates for any inability to land the ball safely on the green.

Green #4 and view of the Bai du Jacotet (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

At the fifth hole, my adrenaline is pumping because the tee shot has to be played 60m deep over a ravine into the fairway. I get just over it and my pulse begins to calm down again.

Hit and hope: 60m downhill from tee #5 (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The lake, which is atypical for links courses, comes into play at six and seven (it serves to irrigate the course) and here too, there is the threat of losing your ball. At the imposing eighth, you have a couple of opportunities to land the ball on the split fairway.

Spoilt for choice: #8 (Photo: Heritage Golf Club/Jacob Sjöman)

From the beginning of the back nine the wind dies down after a beast of a front nine and the course develops into a friendly creature that allows itself to be stroked, becomes more likeable from hole to hole. We start to like it.

The 11th, the longest of the five par 3s, is the signature hole which, with the bay behind it, is both a playing and a visual highlight of the course.

Signature Hole #11 (Photo: Heritage Golf Club/ Jacob Sjöman)

By the 13th hole, the course has finally taken my heart, as I manage not to hit the bunker on the huge green and make a birdie. If the flag is placed closer to it, the bunker definitely comes into play.

Bunker on the green of #13 (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The native grasses swaying in the wind in the dense rough along the fairways on the following holes appear to have been painted onto the landscape and are a feast for the eyes. They will remain in our memories, as will the 18th hole, where a highly-playable green makes for a worthy conclusion to this spectacular course.

Rough at its best (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

This jewel of a golf course, integrated into former sugar cane fields, was created in harmony with the existing nature and is located in the vicinity of a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The course meets the standards required for GEO certification and thus sets an international standard for the construction of sustainable golf courses.

The irrigation system is state-of-the-art and allows targeted control of water use whilst the paspalum grass used on the whole course is robust and resistant to heat, which helps to save water.

Sporty and challenging

In the future, the challenging course will have six different tees. Due to its sporting challenges, the HCP limit will be 36.

Golf professionals will put their skills to the test for the first time on the par 72, 6,727m course from 14-17 December 2023, as participants from not one but two internationally-recognised tours battle it out for victory. As host of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, Oosthuizen will welcome professionals from the DP World Tour 2024 and the South African Sunshine Tour to La Réserve Golf Links. We are already looking forward to watching this event on TV.

Exclusive access

The club management is limiting numbers to 60 tee times per day, allowing starts to flow at relaxed 15 minute intervals. La Réserve is exclusively available to the approximately 180 members of the Heritage Golf Club as well as the guests of the resort’s two five-star hotels, as well as those staying in the resort villas and in the Château’s private suites.

The Le Château Course and the 9-hole Academy Course are still open to green fee players. Guests of the Heritage Resort play here free of charge. With the new course, the resort now establishes itself as the only 45-hole facility on the island and shines with a new star on the global golf map.

Jonathan Menteath, General Manager of the Heritage Golf Club, is confident that La Réserve Links has the potential to be ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the world. The new course is expected to attract more guests to consciously travel to Mauritius to play golf. At the moment, the type of group that predominates here are those looking for a beach and wellness vacation combined with a few rounds of golf still.

Interview with Jonathan Menteath (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

All-round comfort and enjoyment at Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort

We stay in the exclusive Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which is designed in an elegant colonial style.

The two-storey villas with 158 suites are located in a very well-kept tropical park. The brilliant white of the buildings shimmer through the otherwise dominant green of the densely overgrown grounds whilst tall palms and trees provide ample shade.

Colonial style building of Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The tastefully-furnished rooms are equipped with classic as well as modern elements. Our Junior Suite Garden View with large terrace impresses us with its super comfortable bed and bathroom with free-standing bathtub.

Living room and bathroom of Junior Suite Garden View (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The beach, which is not very wide, is clean and fringed by tropical palms. The ocean water shines blue and is crystal clear. Its lateral current acts like a counter-current, making swimming on the spot in the ocean an interesting experience. Further out, the metre-high waves break on a coral reef.

Gorgeous beach at the Heritage Resort (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Those who prefer relaxing by the pool will find various options alongside the various water sports that are available at the C Beach Club.

Pool with direct view of the Indian Ocean (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Gastronomically, 13 restaurants and bars offer great variety both in terms of cuisine and ambience. From sitting barefoot in the sand at Le Palmerie to fine dining in a refined atmosphere at Le Château de Bel Ombre – there is something for every guest. We enjoy the delicious food and fine wines everywhere.

Extensive and high-quality wellness offers complement the resort’s feelgood program. The multi-award-winning Seven Colours Spa & Wellness is one of the leading ones in the southern Indian Ocean region. After the neck and back massage we feel deeply relaxed.

In harmony with nature

Environmental protection and sustainability are writ large at the resort, recycling management and waste avoidance are successfully practised, and plastic is avoided as much as possible. One example of this is the water bottles used, which are made from sugar cane and returned to the organic cycle after use.

Always a smile at the ready

Throughout the resort, the employées appear with great cheerfulness and helpfulness. They captivate us with their always warm smiles and read our every wish from our lips.

Everything at its best

We can add absolutely nothing to the frequently used positive cliché about a perfect vacation in paradise. Everything is just right in the entire resort and on the great golf courses. For us, a golf vacation could not be more beautiful, well-appointed and stylish.

Atmospheric conclusion of a dream holiday (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Apes Hill Barbados Makes It A Formidable ‘Foursome’ At The World Golf Awards

Apes Hill Barbados was a star performer at Monday’s World Golf Awards in Abu Dhabi, with the Caribbean resort and residential community winning in four categories, including ‘World’s Best Golf Real Estate Venue’ and ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility’.

The venue’s critically acclaimed new golf course was also named the best in both Barbados and the Caribbean, completing an impressive quartet of wins.

The 10th annual World Golf Awards ceremony was hosted at the exclusive Radisson Blu Hotel Yas Island and Yas Links Abu Dhabi. With the event rewarding excellence in the golf tourism market, Apes Hill Barbados’ success is yet more recognition for one of the world’s most exclusive and luxurious golf destinations.

The ceremony brought together industry leaders from more than 65 nations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, North America and Oceania.

A long-standing staple of the Caribbean golf scene, Apes Hill Barbados has undergone an extensive transformation since investment from Canadian entrepreneur Glenn Chamandy in 2019. Legendary architect Ron Kirby was entrusted with overhauling Apes Hill’s original golf course and the new-look, par-72 layout reopened to rave reviews at the end of 2022. The award-winning design was Kirby’s final work before he passed away in August.

Upon opening, the layout was commended for its fun factor and playability for all levels of golfer and singled out as one of the sport’s most aesthetically pleasing new courses. Kirby’s design makes full use of native Barbadian flora and rockery, and is enhanced by views that – from 1,000ft above sea level – stretch across the Caribbean Sea and out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Meanwhile, earning the title of ‘World’s Best Golf Real Estate Venue’ is testament to the success of the resort’s ambitious real-estate development. Apes Hill is home to an eclectic range of properties and lifestyle amenities to suit the needs of any resident, each favouring a contemporary and luxurious design that blends effortlessly into the Caribbean landscape.

Complementing the championship course is the Performance Centre – a state-of-the-art facility packed with the latest technology and equipment to develop every aspect of a golfer’s game – further establishing Apes Hill as the Caribbean’s leading destination for passionate players.

Meanwhile, a short par-three course – named Little Apes – is in development for families and more casual players, while a ‘19th hole’ island-style par three, based on the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, is nearing completion.

The World Golf Awards also recognised the pioneering sustainability efforts carried out across Apes Hill’s 475-acre resort with the ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility’ honour. Most notably, Apes Hill’s championship golf course is irrigated exclusively with recycled rainwater from a 58-million-gallon reservoir, drastically reducing resort-wide water usage. Turf and vegetation is carefully selected and maintained to reduce the need for fertilisers and other harmful chemicals, leading to the resort receiving prestigious Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf certification in 2023.

Away from the fairways, Apes Hill is committed to farming livestock and growing fresh ingredients – including crops, herbs and fruit – on-site, contributing to a vibrant ecosystem.

Sunil Chatrani, executive chairman of Apes Hill Barbados, said: “We are honoured to be recognised in multiple categories in the most prestigious awards in our industry.

“Together with Ron Kirby, we set out to build one of the best experiences in golf, and recognition as the best course in not only Barbados, but the whole Caribbean, means a great deal to us as we strive to establish one of the region’s leading destinations.

“Ron’s passing in August was felt by all who he touched the hearts of at Apes Hill Barbados – and the wonderful golf course he created has left a lasting legacy on the island of Barbados. We would like to dedicate these awards to Ron’s life.

“We are also very pleased to see our sustainability work recognised, while our relatively new real estate offering being named the best in golf so early into this project is proof of the unique work we are doing to build a true community.”
Press release written by The Azalea Group


The Dunas Course At Terras Da Comporta Makes It Double At The World Golf Awards

The Dunas Course at Terras da Comporta has announced its place on the global stage in style after being crowned as the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ and ‘Europe’s Best New Golf Course’ at the World Golf Awards 2023.

The par-71 layout near Lisbon claimed the prestigious accolades less than five months after its soft opening, with Terras da Comporta director of golf Rodrigo Ulrich on hand to receive the awards when the winners were unveiled at the prize-giving ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening. (October 23)

With the event rewarding excellence in the golf tourism market, Terras da Comporta’s success is significant recognition for Europe’s most talked-about new design projects. The ceremony brought together industry leaders from more than 65 nations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, North America and Oceania.

UIrich said: “We’ve been very excited about this project for many years. It’s incredibly satisfying to be finally open for play, and to see so many golfers enjoying what is a spectacular course, both in terms of its location and its design”.

“It’s a great thrill and honour to receive two such respected awards, which are hopefully the first of many, because the course is going to get even better as it settles and matures. We’re looking forward to welcoming golfers from all over the world.”

Situated one hour south of Lisbon, the layout has been created over 84 hectares of natural, sandy terrain on the coast in a secluded setting on the edge of the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve. The first course to have been created in mainland Europe by acclaimed architect David McLay-Kidd, the course opened to the public for play for the first time at the start of June.

McLay-Kidd, whose other famous designs include Bandon Dunes, Queenwood, Beaverbrook, Machrihanish Dunes and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, first visited the site in 2008, but the project experienced a series of delays, including a global pandemic and a worldwide recession. However, Vanguard Properties, the owners of Terras da Comporta, are optimistic about what the future holds and Portugal’s largest real estate developer has exciting plans for the site.

“The project may have a long history, but this is just the beginning”, said José Cardoso Botelho, CEO of Vanguard Properties. “Golfers will travel from far and wide to come and play here. It has put Terras da Comporta firmly on the map as a new golf destination, but there’s more to come – much more”.

Vanguard Properties took ownership of the development in 2019 and the site features two large developments: Torre, comprising 365 hectares of land and where a second course designed by Sergio Garcia and José María Olazábal is being built (set to follow in 2025), and Dunas, which occupies around 1,011 hectares.

Complementing The Dunas Course will be a new clubhouse and golf academy. Away from the fairways, an array of lifestyle activities will be available including horse-riding, wellness, tennis, padel, pickleball and many other sports, with a wide range of plots for hotels, tourist and residential condominiums also on offer.
Press release written and distributed for Terras da Comporta by Azalea


Pleasure, culture and golf courses at their best in Italy’s leading golf region

Exquisite truffles, the best chocolate and fine wines

Just thinking about the great white truffles from Alba, the full-bodied red wines Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco or the finest chocolates from Turin makes my mouth water. The region is also known far beyond its borders for its rice and diverse cheeses, and the merest thought of its culinary delights make the hearts of gourmets beat just that little bit faster.

Finest white truffles from Alba (Photo:

An impressive 46 Michelin-starred restaurants pamper the palates of their guests. Cafés serve the popular Bicerin, the sweet and tart chocolate coffee drink. Turin, the city of Vermouth, the nut chocolate praline Gandujotti and the popular breadsticks Grissini, attracts hundreds of thousands every year. And we have Turin to thank for Vitello Tonnato as well as ice cream on a stick, which was first made here with a vanilla flavour and a coated layer of chocolate. The popular nut nougat cream also comes from Piedmont and was invented by Turin confectioner Pietro Ferrero in 1946.

Italy moves into the global golf spotlight

Italy is attracting attention not only because of the Ryder Cup taking place in Rome this year, but also because of great golf courses in the rest of the country. The recognized industry website ‘Top 100 Golf Courses’ recently rated the 60 best courses in Italy.

Almost half of the top 20 courses are located in Piedmont, which is known for its breathtaking landscapes, from the foot of the majestic Alps in the north to the rolling hills in the south, and mo fewer than four have made it into the top 10.

With its 51 golf courses and 15 driving ranges of the 240 golf facilities nationwide, Piedmont ranks second among all regions. Golf here dates back to 1898, when the Couturbier Golf Course in Navara was founded and was one of the only two Italian courses at the time.

Impressive Alpine scenery

If you are flying into Milan from Malpensa airport or travelling from Lake Maggiore, the two par-72 courses of Circolo Golf Bogogno designed by Robert Von Hagge, Mike Smelek and Rick Baril are the perfect start to your golf adventure through Piedmont. They are situated in a magnificent landscape and offer fantastic views of the mountains towering in the background.

Bogogno Golf Resort (Photo: Azalea Group)

The Del Conte Course (rank 18) is a par-72 course and bristles with links character. It is characterised by wide, open landing zones, various flat sections, large lakes and dense rough, and is embedded in the magnificent backdrop of the Monte Rosa peaks.

The Bonora Course (rank 16) is also a par 72 but is more parkland in design and weaves through the expansive hilly landscape of the nature park, surrounded by old trees and criss-crossed by pristine streams.

They are part of the Bogogno Golf Resort, which is situated at an altitude of 320 m above sea level. It offers 50 spacious, sunny rooms equipped with all amenities. Some of them have a balcony or terrace and large windows overlooking the swimming pool and the greens. The modern SPA and the Rooftop Bar invite you to relax.

From here, a trip to one of the many lakes in Piedmont is not to be missed and is highly recommended.

Stroll through Orta San Giulio

After a half-hour drive from the resort, you reach the idyllic village of Orta San Giulio on the eastern shore of Lake Orta and its well-preserved medieval houses. It is one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful places in Italy). The 16th-century town hall, which is well worth seeing, is located on the Piazza Mario Motta in the historic centre of the town, which is surrounded by magnificent, partly Baroque palazzi.

San Giulio and Isola San Giulio (Photo:

The short boat trip across the calm lake to the Isola di San Giulio is also worthwhile. A stroll through the cobbled streets to the Roman Catholic basilica with its magnificent Romanesque pulpit and the bishop’s palace rounds off the trip nicely. At the numerous Piedmontese lakes, including Lake Maggiore, a total of 70 bathing beaches invite you to take a dip in the calm, cool water.

From here, head southwest to Biella, home to number two in the aforementioned golf-course ranking.

Biella Le Betulle Golf Club

The golf club “Le Betulle” was founded in 1957. Nestled in a splendid natural landscape with dense forests of centuries-old beech, birch (Le Betulle) and chestnut trees, it is situated at an altitude of 590 m just a few kilometres from Biella and Ivrea. Its views of the Serra moraine hill with the Alps behind are extremely imposing.

The 18-hole championship course, a par-73 parkland layout, was designed by the English architect John Morrison and has been considered one of the best courses in Italy for decades. It is considered the course with the most typical English design in Italy and rolls through the hilly terrain, over bridges and gorges and past rocky cliffs.

Golf Club Biella #16 (Photo: Azalea Group)

Royal Park I Roveri

Founded in 1971 by the Agnelli family (co-founders of FIAT), the club is set in beautiful surroundings in the La Mandria nature reserve. It is surrounded by the Turin mountains, which magically attract the gaze of golfers. The club has always been one of the most exclusive in Italy. Several international tournaments, such as the Italian Open, the European Amateur Championship and the European Young Masters, have already been held here.

Golf Club Royal Park I Roveri (Photo: Azalea Group)

The Allianz Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior, is characterised by its great arrangement of bunkers, water hazards and large undulating greens. Its old trees also make it extremely visually appealing.

The second course, the Allianz Bank Course, was designed in 2006 and is the work of US architect Michael Hurdzan. He is one of the leading golf course architects in North America and speaks internationally on the subject of the environmental impact of golf. The collaboration was with Dana Fry.

It is his first course designed in Europe, where he brought his philosophy of harmonising the pristine natural landscape with the course. The course is relatively flat, open and with fewer trees. Numerous ponds and bunkers present its greatest challenges.

The Edoardo Molinari Golf Academy, founded by former European Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari in 2019, completes the extensive golf offer.

Circolo Golf Torino (La Mandria)

In the immediate vicinity of Royal Park I Roveri is the Torino Golf Club with its two 18-hole championship courses. The Blue Course and the Yellow Course are also located in the beautiful natural park of La Mandria. Originally founded in 1924, the club later moved here to the former game reserve of the Royal House of Savoy, where the famous Reggia di Venaria Reale palace is also located.

The uniqueness of the club is the location of the courses in its natural surroundings. Here one encounters untouched nature at its purest. You will look in vain for roads and buildings. Environmental protection and sustainability are very important to the club management. Proof of this is the Impegnati nel Verde prize awarded by the Italian Golf Federation in cooperation with the Istituto per il Credito Sportivo to promote the ecologically sustainable development of golf and to raise awareness of environmental issues among clubs and players.

Englishman John Morrison designed the original Blue Course in 1956, which now ranks sixth in the current Top 100 ranking. Some time later, the 18-hole Yellow Course was added. A number of holes were adjusted at the end of 1990 with the involvement of architects Marco Conze and Canadian Graham Cook in preparation for the 1999 Italian Open. The originally flat course received some mounding. In 2013 and 2014, the Italian Open was again held on the Blue Course.

Both courses are classic parkland designs, which today lead over slightly hilly terrain and are designed with many trees, bunkers and water hazards. The bunkers and greens, on the other hand, are flat.

Green of #1 CG Torino (Photo: Azalea Group)

Reside nobly

An ideal base for playing the four courses of the Royal Park I Roveri and the Circolo Golf Torino is the romantic four-star Relais Bella Rosina Pool & Spa. It has been completely renovated and is also located in complete tranquility in the natural park of La Mandria.

Each of the 21 rooms is bright and spacious. Guests can choose between deluxe rooms, junior suites and suites. The rooms and suites overlook Bella Rosina’s large, heated pool and park.

Bella Rosina Pool & Spa (Photo: Relais)

It takes just over half an hour to reach the centre of Turin, which of course cannot be missed on a trip to Piedmont. The small, charming four-star Hotel Victoria & Iside Spa, with a beautiful courtyard, is located in its centre, within easy reach of the sights.

Rich culture and elegant architecture

Not only gourmets, but also culture and architecture lovers will find their taste here. Turin, the first capital of Italy and the todays capital of Piedmont, is impressive with its many baroque buildings, palaces, basilicas and monasteries.

Some of the city’s highlights are the Shroud of Turin, in which Jesus Christ was wrapped in the tomb and which is now kept in Turin Cathedral, the Egyptian Museum, the monumental Mole Antonelliana building, which is the city’s landmark with its soaring spire.

Also worth seeing are the elegant Piedmontese Royal Residence and the Galleria Sabauda, where numerous masterpieces by great European artists are on display.

Piedmont whets the appetite for grandiose nature, rich culture, culinary delights and star-studded golf courses. Via per il Piemonte.

Juergen Linnenbuerger

Cologne, June 2023


True Links Golf at its best in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Where it all began

Links golf courses exude a fascination for me that has stayed with me ever since I first got to know them. Now the time has finally come to travel to the country where our passion originated. As there is no direct flight to Aberdeen, we first take the plane to Edinburgh. From here we take a rental car and drive relaxed on the well-developed motorway with a maximum of 70 miles to the north-east of the country. 

The region of Aberdeenshire is slightly larger than Muensterland in Germany and has about 250,000 inhabitants. There are about fifty golf courses. We will concentrate on three top courses during our one-week tour, because we want to get to know as many highlights of the region as possible in addition to golfing.

Manor house from 1225

As our first accommodation we choose the picturesque situated Maryculter House Hotel, which lies a little southwest of Aberdeen, towards Royal Deeside. The River Dee, which flows into the North Sea in Aberdeen Harbour, runs directly past it.

Gemütlich und authentisch: Maryculter House Hotel (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Cozy and authentic: Maryculter House Hotel (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The manor house has its origins in the 13th century. It is a former domicile of the Knights of the Order of the Temple, stylishly furnished and with wooden panelling and beamed ceilings. The Knights’ Hall and the bar invite you to linger. Our Classic River View room in traditional style is comfortably furnished and offers a great view of the Peterculter Golf Club on the other side of the river.

After a delicious breakfast with fruit, yoghurt, porridge and scrambled eggs with Scottish salmon, we explore the west and south of the region. 

We drive through the scenically impressive Cairngorms National Park with its heather-covered plateaus, numerous raised bogs and forests. We make our first stop in the pretty village of Ballater. 

God save the Queen and the King

We continue to the most famous castle in the region, Balmoral Castle. It is the summer residence of the British royal family. Elizabeth II stayed here between August and October, where she also died in September 2022. In the only room open to visitors, the ballroom, exhibits and photos of the royals are on display.

Königliche Residenz: Balmoral Castle (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Royal residence: Balmoral Castle (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Actually we want to visit the nearby Braemar Castle, but unfortunately it is closed for renovation. So we drive south-east to Lochton & Leys Farm. Here we meet about 250 specimens of the typical Highland beef breed with their distinctive pony and learn interesting facts about the animals and their breeding from the owner.

Eine besondere Rasse: Die schottischen Hochland-Rinder (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
A special breed: The Scottish Highland Cattle (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

We continue to the coast to Stonehaven, a worthwhile little town with a beautiful long beach and a typical small fishing harbour.

Nearby, the most sought-after photo motif in Aberdeenshire is enthroned on the cliffs. Surrounded on three sides by water, the ruins of Dunnottar Castle captivate thousands of visitors every year. We can understand why and can’t get enough of it.

Hoch auf den Felsen und von Meer umgeben: Dunnottar Castle (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
High on the cliffs and surrounded by sea: Dunnottar Castle (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Eighth-oldest golf course in the world

Then, finally, golf is on the agenda. The Aberdeen Golf Club was founded in 1780 and is a links as it is written in the book. From the venerable clubhouse with its impressive ancestral gallery, the members enjoy their food and drinks directly in front of the first tee of the championship Balgownie Course, which also hosted the Scottish Open 2014.

Separated only by the thin pane of glass, we are not impressed by this and play our drives towards the sea. In front of us are several ships waiting to enter Aberdeen Harbour.

Erster Abschlag im Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
First tee at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Together with the numerous wind turbines in the North Sea, they form the typical backdrop for the course. From the second hole, the front nine runs through the hilly dune landscape directly along the sea, whose holes are considered by many to be among the most beautiful of their kind. It leads to the furthest point of the course away from the clubhouse and back from there slightly above it in parallel. The ten bunkers on the eight have a magical attraction.

Bemerkenswerte Front Nine und das von zehn Bunkern geschützte Grün der Acht (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Remarkable front nine and the green of the eight protected by ten bunkers (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

While the narrow fairways and the rough on the front nine make life difficult for us, on the back nine it is the mercilessly head-on wind. Although I follow the recommendation of the starter and tee off from red, I am on the verge of giving up. But I hold out until the end and, although I am completely exhausted, I am highly satisfied with this unique golfing experience.

Eine echte Herausforderung: Bunker am 18. Grün (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
A real challenge: bunkers at the 18th green (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

This is not changed by the fact that I end up in the huge bunker on the 18th below the clubhouse and have trouble getting out of it.

Murcar Links Golf Club

The next day we get to know another great old-fashioned links, the Murcar Links, founded in 1909. It borders directly on the Royal Aberdeen at its southern end and is only separated from it by a low fence. Here we can clearly see that climate change has also arrived in Scotland. The drought of the past few weeks has resulted in the fairways being an unusual colour and hard as nails, but still very playable.

Eine sonnige Runde im Murcar Links Golf Club (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
A sunny round at the Murcar Links Golf Club (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The great holes run through the dunes, some right along the sea. Seven is the signature hole and is not called ‘Serpentine’ for a reason.

Hügeliges Terrain mit ungewohnter Einfärbung (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Hilly terrain with unusual coloration (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The course is sportingly challenging and provides us with a wonderful day of golf in the best weather

Several national amateur championships and international professional tournaments have already been held here.

Seals within reach

After the round we head north. After a short while we come to Newburgh, where the Seals sign catches our eye. We pass the entrance to Forvie National Nature Reserve, whose car park is right next to Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club. 

We take the short path through the dunes to the mouth of the River Ythan. In the completely deserted bay, we then see black moving dots in the water, which get bigger and bigger as we get closer. Numerous seals are enjoying themselves here and wonder about the strange figures on the beach. We have the impression that they notice us, but do not feel threatened in any way.

Castles like something out of a picture book

Castles worth seeing, such as Fraser, Fyvie, Crathes, Craigievar and Huntly are located on the Castle Trail, along which a total of 19 castles or their ruins can be found. Each one is different and impressive in its own way.

Schlösser wie aus dem Bilderbuch (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Castles like out of a picture book (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Breathtaking and unique

The conclusion of our great links trio is the championship course of Cruden Bay Golf Club, which opened in 1899. Unlike the other two courses, the front and back nine do not run parallel away and back, but in two loops, partly through the huge, high dune landscape.

The warm welcome culture alone impresses us. The original mention by name on the guest board and also the guest gift in the shape and size of a pack of balls delights us. When we want to bring them into play on the round, we can’t help smiling.

Erhöhte Abschläge in herausfordernde Fairways und Grüns (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Elevated tees into challenging fairways and greens (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Only now do we realise that it is not balls, but a small bottle of Specially Selected Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We are happy to say Sláinte Mhath and enjoy the 12-year-old dram. 

Herzlich willkommen im Cruden Bay Golf Club (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Welcome to Cruden Bay Golf Club (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

After that, we swing more loosely, which is necessary on the unusual holes 3-15. Each is an experience in itself. Among our favourites are the 8-10. The eight, a short par 4, has to be played uphill into the high green surrounded by huge dunes. 

Umgeben von hohen Dünen: Grün von Loch 8 (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Surrounded by high dunes: green of hole 8 (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

It continues steeply uphill to the highest point of the course, from where we have a fantastic view of one side of the course and the completely deserted bay.

The ruins of Slain Castle tower in the background. You can’t get more Scottish than that.

Slains Castle auf den Klippen über der Cruden Bay (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Slains Castle on the cliffs above Cruden Bay (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Turning around, we look from the tee of the nine across the other side of the course, also along the bay. The tee shot has to be played downhill over a deep ravine.

The ten is also a challenge. Here it’s hit and hope, because the landing zone of the tee shot deep below us is not visible. We wish each other good luck, sip the rest of the bottle once more and are glad to find the balls on the fairway after the descent. As a reward, the sun comes out and accompanies us back to the clubhouse.

But before that, we have to play the tee shot of the 15 from a mini-tee box above the low-lying green of the 14 blind through a narrow ravine. But only after the traffic lights have turned green.

Loch 16: Knopf drücken nicht vergessen (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Hole 16: Don’t forget to press the button (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Everything is just right here. The course offers a sporting challenge, a lot of fun and a unique links experience with incredible views. Top100 Golf Courses ranks it 67th in the world, just like the Royal Aberdeen (63rd).

Diversified Aberdeen

From our second domicile, the stylish Chester Hotel, we reach the three golf courses in less than half an hour. The listed original building dates back to the 19th century and now combines traditional style with super-modern design. Our spacious, chic Grand Room offers ample space and a private terrace. Ample parking is available.

Stilvoll, anspruchsvoll und schick (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Stylish, sophisticated and chic (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The great breakfast is topped by the excellent dinner offer. My salmon tartare and steak from the local Angus beef melted in my mouth. The Malbec red wine and the subsequent whisky nightcap in the cool bar round off a wonderful evening.

The next day we take a look around Aberdeen. We are particularly impressed by the modern Art Gallery, Provost Skene’s House and the buildings of Kings College and Aberdeen University in Old Aberdeen.

Das 1495 gegründete Kings College ist Teil der Universität von Aberdeen (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Founded in 1495, Kings College is part of the University of Aberdeen (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Since the weather gods continue to be kind to us, we also go to the beach. We haven’t had to use our rain gear all week and the thermometer even rises to 30 degrees Celsius.

At the end of the Esplanade, we reach the former fishing village of Footdee, which lies directly at the entrance and exit of Aberdeen Harbour. The original small fishing cottages have been lovingly restored by the current owners and now attract many tourists.

Idylle pur: ehemalige Fischerhäuschen in Footdee (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Idyll pure: former fishermen’s cottages in Footdee (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

At the far end of the harbour pier is the popular seafood restaurant Silver Darling. Here, on the last evening of our trip, we enjoy the sunset not only with delicious oysters, mussels and freshly caught fish, but also watch the passing of the incoming and outgoing freighters with the same curiosity as the dolphins jumping in the bay.

The end of a wonderful trip to the north-east of Scotland could not be more beautiful.

The Silver Darling - eines der führenden Restaurants in Aberdeen (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
The Silver Darling – one of the leading restaurants in Aberdeen (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)
Europe Travel

Impressive culture and varied golfing in Sicily

Five-star resort directly by the sea

From the capital Palermo, we set out to take a closer look at three very different golf resorts. First, we head to the southwest of the island. Here we find the luxurious five-star Verdura Golf Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel, which extends over an area of 230 hectares. The view of the surrounding hills and the directly adjacent Mediterranean Sea are impressive. 

Overview of the extensive grounds. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

If you travel by car, you park your vehicle in the car park after passing through the entrance area and then use golf carts or bicycles to cover the sometimes large distances between the facilities. The architecture of the buildings is characterised by straight lines. Stone, wood and sugar cane lend them a naturalness. 

The resort has 203 rooms and suites and 20 new private villas. My modern and tastefully furnished Deluxe Room offers plenty of space and has a great view over the terrace to the sea.

Spacious and modern furnished Deluxe Room with Sea View. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Internationally recognised and a leader in the golf business for over three decades, Donato di Ponziano has recently taken over as the resort’s Golf Development Manager. He gives us a comprehensive overview of the resort and its goals. With his equally experienced Golf Manager Allessandro Mario Cardini, who takes up his position on the day of our visit, he wants to establish the current number one resort in Italy among the leading international ones.

Golf at its best on 45 holes

Originally created about 10 years ago, the championship golf courses were redesigned by US golf course architect Kyle Phillips after the course was flooded in 2019. In 2021, the East Course was reopened. Today, it shines in new splendour as a par 73 with a length of 6,763 metres. Its left character has also convinced the golf media. In 2022, it was rated Italy’s number 1 by Golf World Top 100.

In particular, its holes 5, 6 and 7, 12 and 13, with direct access to the sea, have taken my fancy.

Teebox of Hole 5 of East Course. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

If you stay on the fairways, the course is to manage despite its length. If you stray off the fairways and land in the current deep rough, your score is ruined, because searching in the rough makes no sense. The snow-white bunkers are just as convincing as the fast but fair greens.

The West Course is a par 70 course with a length of 6,547 metres. Its holes are much hillier and narrower. They first lead inland, past olive trees and lemon groves. It is more like a parkland course on this part, but this changes from the 14th hole onwards. From here on, the remaining holes meander along the bright blue sea until the end and offer spectacular views.

View from the Clubhouse to Hole 18 of the West Course. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

A 9-hole par 3 executive course and a well-equipped academy perfectly round off the golfing offer. The resort is an official partner of the PGA of Germany.

The elegant 4,000-square-metre Irene Forte Spa has several outdoor thalasso pools, an indoor pool, a hammam and a Finnish sauna. Sports activities include tennis courts, football pitches and various water sports.

Guests are treated to Mediterranean dishes, fresh fish and seafood as well as high-quality wines in four different restaurants and five bars. The linguine pasta with lobster served in the main Zagara restaurant is just as exceptional as the spaghetti in garlic oil with tuna eggs.

Valley of the Temples

Temple of Hera Lacinia (Temple of Juno) in Agrigento. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

From the resort, we head east across the island to Syracuse. After about 40 km we stop in Agrigento, which is famous for its well-preserved Greek and Roman temples. We visit the archaeological sites of the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) with the Roman Temple of Hera (Juno) and the Temple of Concordia, one of the best-preserved Greek temples of antiquity. These represent only a small part of the vast array of former architecture spread across the island.

Sightseeing Syracuse

After another 2.5 hour drive, we reach Syracuse in the southeast of the island. The port city is the birthplace of Archimedes and is known for its numerous historical and cultural sights. Our guided tour takes us to the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Diana and the imposing, gleaming white Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Colonne in the Piazza del Duomo. It impresses with its baroque façade and open staircase.  

In the narrow, atmospheric alleys of the old town, we come across a multitude of pubs, restaurants and shops, which also sell the colourful mosaic figures famous for the region.

Former Benedictine monastery in an idyllic setting

We also encounter these figures at our next accommodation, the stylish five-star Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort, to which the I Monasteri Golf Club is attached. It is located not far from Syracuse in complete tranquillity and is surrounded by palm, citrus and olive trees.

Left: Entrance of Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort, Right: Bar of Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort (Photos: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Various Sicilian noble families were among the owners. Even today, you can feel the special charm of the glamorous past. I am particularly impressed by the lobby, the bar and restaurants with their round arches, high ceilings and the artistic ceramic figures that always catch my eye. 

The 102 rooms and suites are spread over three buildings and are all on ground level. My superior double room with veranda and views of the golf course is at the back of the resort and is decorated in a contemporary style. 

Ceramic figures typical for the Syracuse region. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The resort has a large spa, an outdoor pool and a jacuzzi.

The par 71 course has a length of 6,520 metres. It opened in 2012 and is set in 86 hectares of lemon trees and prickly pears. Its 18 holes with parkland character run around the former monastery through the flat terrain. Several water hazards add to the charm of the course, as on holes 9 -12 and on 18, which are among its highlights.

9th (left) and 18th green of I Monasteri Golf Club. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The fairways, bunkers and greens are in good condition. It would be desirable if the driving range and tee boxes could follow suit.

Golf, relaxation and enjoyment on the northern slopes of Mount Etna

We finish our golf tour at the four-star Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa, located in the midst of complete peace and nature. It is located 650 metres above sea level in the east of the island at the foot of Europe’s largest active volcano in the Parco dell’Etna regional park, halfway between Syracuse and Catania. 

Hotel with pool and surrounding vines. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Because of the altitude, the temperatures here are lower than on the coast and can be easily endured even on hot summer days. It is beautifully nestled between vines and orchards.

The owners, two sympathetic Sicilian brothers with Swiss roots, explain to us that they first acquired the driving range in 2021. Later, the golf course and the hotel right next to it followed. The goal is to develop this into a 4.5-5 star top golf and holiday destination in the next four years. The first steps have already been taken. At the moment, the technology is being brought up to date and, among other things, a solar system is being installed. The next step will be to modernise the rooms.

My spacious Etna Room offers great views over the vines to the volcano towering in the distance.

The 900-square-metre wellness centre with spa, fitness room, sauna and indoor pool invite you to relax, as does the outdoor pool with large sun terrace.

In the hotel’s main restaurant and the clubhouse, our palates are spoiled with traditional Sicilian cuisine and fine wines from the region. 

The huge clubhouse, which houses a few rooms, has also undergone renovation. Large parts, such as the pro shop with the bar, already impress with their modern ambience. 

Well-kept parkland course with spectacular views

The modernisation also affects the golf course. The fairways and partly huge greens are in top condition. At the moment, the bunkers are being reworked. Some of them already have gleaming white sand. The rest will follow shortly.

Well maintained fairways, greens and bunkers. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The 18-hole parkland course is the oldest on the island. It was built in the eighties of the last century. Between 1995 and 2011, it hosted several renowned tournaments.

Again and again great views of Mount Etna. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

It winds its way through the extremely hilly terrain, constantly uphill and downhill, past dense tree population. Again and again, Mount Etna towers in the background. If the weather or the rising smoke allow it, you can enjoy the magnificent view all the way to the top of the 3,357 m high volcano. If you want to admire it up close, you can also book a helicopter flight through the resort.

Dense tree cover throughout the entire course. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The layout is very appealing and the courses vary. A special feature is that the par 72 course has five par 5s and par 3s in addition to eight par 4s. Its length is 5,870 m. The use of the driver should be well considered because the holes require a tactical game. Precision is required here. The course is extremely well maintained and is a great pleasure to play.

The club has an academy with the latest technical equipment and experienced PGA professionals who, among other things, successfully dedicate themselves to youth work and see this as a focal point of their activities.

You can tell that the entire golf and hotel team enjoys their work. Everyone is enthusiastic and always smiling, and they transfer this good mood to the guests. First and foremost the Golf Marketing Manager Guy Roberts, who speaks excellent German and is thus able to converse perfectly with the currently largest group of foreign golf guests of the resort in their mother tongue.

Introduction to Sicilian wines

A visit to the resort cannot be complete without a tasting of the many wines grown in the area, as Sicilian ones are now among the leading in Italy. The informative tour and subsequent tasting at the I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna Winery round off an enjoyable trip across a culturally and golfing inspiring island, superbly organised by the English AZALEA Group. Grazie mille per i giorni perfetti.

Juergen Linnenbuerger

Cologne, June 2023

International Travel

Dubai Golf rolls out VIYA rewards app to international audience

Dubai Golf has officially rolled out VIYA to international audiences. VIYA allows customers, both in the UAE and around the world, to book world-class golf, dining, experiences, spas, and more at venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

VIYA is a one-stop-shop for those in, and visiting, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The platform offers golf bookings and seasonal promotions at Dubai Golf’s world-class golf venues: Emirates Golf Club, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, Yas Links, Yas Acres, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, and Topgolf Dubai – in addition to numerous other venues in the region.

In addition, the platform contains a variety of dining offerings at a plethora of restaurants and all the pro shops located at each of the Dubai Golf clubs. It can also be used to book spa days and treatments, as well as individual or recurring fitness experiences.

VIYA has been designed to reward customer loyalty, by offering 1 UAE Dirham (local currency) back for every 10 UAE Dirhams spent at a Dubai Golf venue and every other venue on the app – a 10% rewards programme. Whether it be in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, rewards earned on the platform can be redeemed at any other VIYA venue – this includes all restaurants, golf courses, pro shops, spas, gyms, beaches, and at Topgolf.

Christopher May, CEO of Dubai Golf (operator of VIYA), said: “VIYA really is the go-to platform for booking golf, leisure activities, and dining in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It contains the very best of what the area has to offer and features a number of fantastic promotions every week. We also created VIYA with the goal of rewarding our users. We’re delighted that with every purchase, users earn rewards in UAE Dirhams that can then be redeemed at other VIYA venues, no matter which they choose to visit.”

He added: “While VIYA is a brilliant platform for residents to enjoy, it is now very much a tool that visitors and holidaymakers can utilise during their stay. It’s the easiest way to book tee times, dinners, and leisure experiences, and the rewards can be redeemed instantly, allowing visitors to benefit from them during their visit.”

VIYA has evolved from its original form as a golf bookings app for members of Dubai Golf clubs, to a fully servicing booking portal for activities and experiences throughout the region. It also now includes a variety of partners from outside the Dubai Golf business, to further enhance the user experience and create a broader offering for customers.

VIYA has already acquired more than 120,000 users in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and visitors from around the world can now utilise the platform.

VIYA is free to download, and you can do so by heading to any mobile app store. To explore VIYA, head to: 

For more information on Dubai Golf, head online to: