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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The US Millenium Hospitality Group has big goals. With La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, it wants to become one of the leading and most luxurious golf resorts in Spain. It has entrusted this task to the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Group, which is one of the most renowned luxury hotel brands worldwide.
The first steps have already been taken. The golf course, previously known as ‘Alcaidesa’, was rebuilt at a multi-million dollar cost and shines in a complete new splendour. The new, stylish clubhouse with its cool restaurant and the extraordinary beach club are already in place. The same goes for the huge driving range with new grass tees and the large putting, pitching and chipping area. Added to this is the already existing 18-hole Heathland Golf Course, so that the resort has two completely different golf courses.
By Easter 2024, a five-star hotel complex comprising 153 exclusive rooms and 51 villas is to be built on an area of 400 hectares. Several more villas, all with private pools, will be available for purchase. Various restaurants and bars will be part of the complex as well as swimming pools, a spa and fitness centre and event facilities. A halfway house is under construction on the newly designed links course.
Millenium’s plan to become the flagship in Southern Europe with the resort seems to be working, because they have already been accepted as a member of the European Tour Destinations and are happy about this seal of quality.
All in white
As soon as you enter the white clubhouse of La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, shining in the sun, you sense something special. The arc of tension is slowly built up, starting on the steps to the entrance. It continues as you cross the huge entrance hall and ends in front of an infinity pool with a view of the Mediterranean.
The modern pro shop offers everything you need on a round. The rental clubs are of the best quality. The first tees of the two courses are in opposite directions. We first play the Heathland Course, which leads into the hinterland.
The Heathland Course
The 18-hole Heathland Course was designed by former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas. The par-72 layout has a length of 6,373 m from the back tees and features different landscapes. While holes 1 to 5 and 17 and 18 are located on a plateau and resemble a heath landscape, the other courses wind their way down into the valley with magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea, where several water hazards await.
This is also the case at the 13th, a par-5, where the tee shot has to be hit well in order not to land in the water hazard crossing the course head-on.
Due to the sometimes considerable distances between the individual holes and the considerable differences in altitude, a buggy is highly recommended. Some of these are brand new and of course equipped with GPS.
Unique Links Golf Course
The next day we played the only links course in southern Spain. The origin of the course dates back to 1992 and was designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. Its current redesign is due to the US-American Kurtis Bowman, who redesigned all greens and added several bunkers. The course was only opened this summer but is already in great condition.
The par-72 course has a sensational layout and is suitable for all handicappers. The course is teed off from four tees. Players with a handicap of less than nine are recommended to use the white tees. The course then has a length of 5,841 m. At the moment, there is no table of playing conditions. I play off the yellows and am looking forward to the 5.5 km journey ahead of me. I know of no other course in Spain that offers such sensational views. The Rock of Gibraltar, which is clearly visible on a clear day, keeps attracting attention on various courses and distracts from the game. We are lucky with the weather and after a short initial rainfall, we enjoy the sunshine on the rest of the round.
The varied courses, the constant ups and downs and the great views over the course make the round of golf an unforgettable experience. Everything is extremely well-maintained and also perfectly matched visually.
The water hazards are impressively designed and interrupt the different shades of green of tees, fairways and greens with their brilliant blue. The course is not only great to play, but also meets the highest aesthetic standards. Some holes run directly along the sea.
Development is already encroaching on some of the holes. This will increase further with the Fairmont Hotel La Hacienda, which is being built in terraces level with the back end of the beach with the best views across the course to the sea.
The palate will also be pampered
What could be better than finishing off a successful round of golf with a great meal and special drinks? The fact that this is possible at the resort is thanks to the Azotea Group. Behind it are the journalist Cristina Lasvignes and her husband José Manuel García. Among other things, they have founded various restaurants and bars in Spain under the Sal Verde brand that meet the highest standards.
These include the Clubhouse Restaurant as well as the Arena Bar in the Beach Club, which is located directly below the golf course. Both combine a great ambience, the highest quality and outstanding creativity.
Exceptional dishes and creative cocktails are created by the Michelin-starred Executive Chef Manuel Berganza and the renowned mixologist Luca Anastasio. The latter plays a special role in Sal Verde’s concept, because high-quality cocktails play an essential role in Sal Verde’s gastronomy concept.
Those who have a choice are spoilt for choice. Either you choose the Spicy Moscow Mule, the Senorita Margarita, the Amalfi Ten Tonic, the Galan or Paloma, or you try them all. With one exception, they were all new to me and impressed me as much as the menus of the latest Spanish star chef. The tuna tartare, popular in Andalusia, served here with truffles and spring onion dressing, melted in my mouth just as much as the mussels au gratin with spicy tomato sauce, to name just two of the various delicacies tasted.
As the Fairmont accommodation is still under construction, we are staying at the Aldiana Club near the golf courses while we get to know the new resort.
Adiós Aldiana Andalusia
The sun still rises every morning over the Aldiana Club Costa del Sol in Alcaidesa. But this will come to an end on 21 November 2022, because the resort will soon change hands. After the planned renovation, it will be called Sun Club Costa del Sol from next year and will continue as a four-star hotel under a new flag.
The current all-inclusive concept will then be replaced by an offer that includes a choice of breakfast, half board or full board. It remains to be seen whether the great barbecue in the beach restaurant, which is still part of the club, will be offered.
I enjoyed the freshly prepared Andalusian specialities and especially the extremely spicy chorizo sausages. These remain in my positive memory as well as the varied and high-quality offer in the entire club. The well-maintained facilities and the friendliness and attentiveness of all the staff contributed in equal measure to my feeling of well-being during my stay. Not to forget the bright and clean room with the extremely comfortable bed.
I am convinced that the Millenium/Fairmont concept will work out and that their guests will be delighted with the high-quality offer. I already am and look forward to another round on one of the most impressive golf courses in southern Europe. Hasta luego.
Of the more than 1,900 English golf courses, around one hundred are located in Kent, England’s oldest county. On our eight-day round trip by car, we get to know some of its exceptional courses, which completely captivate us.
Sandwich to start
From the harbour in Dunkerque in France, the quiet ferry ride across the English Channel takes two hours to reach Dover, whose white chalk cliffs shine in the sun.
From here it is only 20 minutes to the dreamy village of Sandwich, which is the best-preserved medieval town with the most half-timbered houses in England.
Sandwich is still one of the original famous ‘Five Harbours’, although unlike the other four towns of Dover, Hastings, Hythe and Romney, it no longer has direct access to the sea.
The popular snack of the same name is said to owe its name to an ‘Earl of Sandwich’ who, due to time constraints, often refrained from taking a full lunch. Instead, he opted for a slice of beef between two slices of bread. Those who observed this then wanted the same as Sandwich.
It is only a stone’s throw to the coast. Here, the three-star Lodge at Prince’s Golf Club awaits us, where we are greeted with a very warm welcome and spend the next four days. Situated at the entrance to the golf course, it has 34 double rooms and two suites. Our spacious, bright Bay Suite offers plenty of room and a great view through the floor-to-ceiling window of Sandwich Bay, which is within in easy reach.
We enjoy breakfast in the Lodge’s Brasserie Restaurant as well as delicious fish and meat dishes for dinner and a nightcap in the cosy bar.
Himalayas, Dunes and Shore
The tradition-steeped club was officially opened in 1907 as an 18-hole course. After World War II, it was expanded to 27 holes in 1950. From The Lodge it is a short drive to the clubhouse wherethe three loops start and end.
We encounter true links golf at its finest; a layout of impeccable quality with rolling fairways, deep rough, elevated tees, huge greens with incredible roll-out zones, large waste areas and a whopping 97 bunkers.
Its most famous is named after the legendary American Gene Sarazen, who in 1932, won the only Open Championship ever held here and was the first player to win all four majors. In that tournament, he used the sand wedge, which he invented, for the first time.
The bunker protects the green of the final hole of the Himalayas loop, which was redesigned into a modern links by the golf architectural firm Mackenzie & Ebert in 2018.
The spectacular Dunes and Shore loops have also undergone redesigns in recent years. They form the Championship Course, which is one of the top one hundred 18-hole courses in Great Britain and Ireland.
In addition to numerous high-ranking amateur and professional tournaments, the Final Qualifying was played on this course for the fourth time in a row. This is where the last few places were awarded for The Open Championship, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2022 at St Andrews in Scotland.
We encounter a friendly, relaxed sporting atmosphere and warm hospitality throughout the club.
Attractive stay, play and dine packages perfectly round off this great offering.
We play our next round at the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in the coastal town of Deal. It is located only six kilometres from Prince’s on a narrow piece of former farmland. Deal, as it is also called, is one of the most recognised courses in the country. The Private Members Club, founded in 1892, also boasts a rich tradition. Here, too, we receive an extremely friendly welcome.
The Open was held here twice, in 1909 and 1920. More were planned, but due to the World Wars and flooding of the course several scheduled were cancelled.
Running directly alongside the sea, the front nine leads away from the clubhouse one after the other, the back nine just as straight and parallel back to it.
The fairways are short mown, hard as a board and not very wide. They roll through the open terrain with sandy waste areas making the round a breathtaking rollercoaster ride; constantly uphill and downhill. Sloping terrain is the rule whilst the rough is just as merciless as the countless deep pot bunkers.
The greens are extremely undulating, surrounded by huge run-off areas, furiously fast and almost impossible to read.
In addition, there are numerous blind tee shots. All this makes the round a real test of golf, especially when the wind blows from the sea. Then the last seven holes are supposed to be brutally difficult but we are spared this experience because we catch a sunny and almost windless day, which is extremely rare here.
Gary Player describes the last four holes with: “I consider the last four holes at Deal to be without doubt, the finest four consecutive holes on any course in the world.” No wonder, then, that the course is currently ranked 12th in England and among the best 100 in the world.
We enjoy the authentic links golf and are thrilled with the course all around; its layout and maintenance are world class.
The winners of professional and amateur tournaments held here adorn the numerous Honours Boards in the clubhouse dating back to the founding year. These include the annual The Halford Hewitt Cup, in which 10 players from each of 64 English public schools compete against each other.
On the clubhouse terrace we enjoy a pint and the great view over the course.
The official club video whets further appetite: https://www.royalcinqueports.com/club/film/
In my recently released article “The cream of the crop” I report on the third coastal course we played, the Royal St. George’s Golf Club, which is considered the number one course in England. In it I describe, among other things, what its unique ‘Coffin’ bunker means.
Back to the Middle Ages
The venerable Canterbury is a university city and an episcopal see. The beginning of its imposing cathedral with its 75 m high tower dates back to 597, when Pope Gregory I sent a monk to Canterbury to build a ‘cathedra’ (seat) here. Today it is the headquarters of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England. The murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 made it one of Europe’s most famous pilgrimage sites. A lit candle in the cathedral commemorates the site of this assassination.
We also like the pretty medieval streets with their small shops, restaurants and pubs, as well as the raft trip across the Stour, supposedly the cleanest river in England.
Also worthwhile from here is the short drive to the coastal towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Whitstable, the oyster centre on Kent’s north coast. Very delicious, what the sea brings to the plate here and a portion of the best fish ’n’ chips is a must, of course.
We continue west to Royal Tunbridge Wells. This picturesque spa town was already held in high esteem by Queen Victoria. The Pantiles, the oldest pedestrianised street in England, has its origins in the early 17th century and some houses dating from 1606 are still standing today. It captivates us with its white colonnades and transports us to another time.
Romantic gardens full of flowers
The most famous gardens in Kent are those of Sissinghurst Castle with its ten garden rooms. Not as crowded, but just as impressive, we find the Riverside Himalayas Garden and the Emmets Garden in Sevenoaks. Their variety and colourfulness are simply amazing.
Oh my deer
Right next door is Kent’s most beautiful inland course, which is one of the top 100 golf courses in England. Knole Park Golf Club is located in the 1,000 hectare public deer park of the same name. The club was founded in 1924 and designed by the architect J.F. Abercromby.
There are considerable differences in altitude to overcome on the hilly championship course, which is open to the public so pedestrians and joggers often cross the path.
The spacious, open layout delights us as much as its state of maintenance. Each hole has its own identity and remains in the memory and the course is sportingly demanding, yet fair.
The 17th century Knole House towers in the background.
We receive a friendly welcome in the pro shop and the traditional clubhouse and are amazed by the Honours Boards with winners from about hundred years.
A castle like in a picture book
We spend the last two days of our round trip in the ‘most beautiful castle in the world’. At least, that’s how the moated Leeds Castle with its magnificent gardens advertises itself. It is located near the small town of Lenham near Maidstone in the middle of Kent. We are also captivated by it.
Built more than 900 years ago, it first became a royal residence in 1278, and several English queens lived here, including Catherine of Aragon, the first of the six wives of Henry VIII, which is why it is also called the castle of women. Since 1976, it has been owned by a private foundation and is open to the public.
The round on the 9-hole course of the Leeds Castle Golf Club with great views of the castle grounds forms the sporting conclusion of our golf trip.
The crowning finale is dinner in the Castle Restaurant with a view of the castle opposite. The end of our Kent trip to this beautiful part of England could not be more stylish.
We will definitely be back to see the other great golf courses, dormy villages, castles and fruit, hop and wine growing that also characterise the county. Then we hope the weather will be as fantastic as it has been all the time during our visit. See you soon Kent.
The first time you are amazed is before you have even really arrived at the Palheiro Golf Club. From a height of 500 metres, you look down steep cliffs in front of the clubhouse to Funchal, the capital of the Madeira archipelago. Behind the clubhouse, you are immediately amazed again, because the course goes steep uphill to the first green. There are a few surprises in the course of the round. The 18-hole course cannot be pigeonholed.
There are too many very different holes for that. The fairways are mostly relatively wide, but on some of them the landing zones from the tee are still very small due to the slopes. On others, you can only guess where to hit without knowing the course. Wooden stakes do help with orientation, but if you keep your ball within sight with an iron off the tee, you are certainly not at a disadvantage compared to driving into the unknown. At least not on the first round at Palheiro Golf Club.
Many different challenges
With improved course knowledge, you can approach the par-72 course quite differently. The first time, however, you need to make smart decisions. The length of the course is not a difficulty for any skill level. But those who miss fairways or greens will run into problems. This is not least due to the nature of the terrain. Cliffs, steep slopes and deep valleys are just waiting for a ball to miss the target – even if it is only half a metre.
However, the Cabell B. Robinson design is never unfair. Rather, the challenge is to adapt to the ever-changing challenges. On one of the high plateaus it can be very windy, on the next hole you need a good feeling for the length of your shots for the height difference between tee and green. In some other places, strategically placed trees form the biggest obstacle. Some greens are surrounded by bunkers. You never know exactly what’s coming next. But even on the greens you are not safe. Partially heavily ondulated and difficult to read, the putting surface sells for as much as the rest of the course.
At the moment, one still looks in vain for a driving range at the Palheiro Golf Club. While a short game training facility and practice greens are already in place, the range is still under construction. In general, a lot is happening at the club in the south of Madeira. All greens were renovated during the Corona pandemic. The first roughs have already been changed to a more water-efficient type of grass. More are to follow to make the entire club even more sustainable. However, irrigation is already done exclusively with rainwater.
Palheiro Golf Club (Photo: Azalea Group)
Unconventional and a dream for the eye
Unconventional is probably the simplest description of the Palheiro Golf Club. In positive terms, you could call it varied. Those who don’t enjoy it would probably criticise the lack of a clear line in the layout. However, no one will complain about the wide views over the sea that open up again and again. The fantastic view down to Funchal is also offered in several places on the course. Thanks to the subtropical vegetation, for which Madeira is famous, you get a real holiday feeling. But since everything here has its contrast, you also play your way past the island’s prison in the course of the round.
The topography of the course almost “screams” for a cart, but the terrain can also be mastered with a trolley. Only those who are absolutely physically fit should carry their bag. If you opt for a buggy (45 euros), this will spare your muscles, but you should keep your concentration on the sometimes rutted cart paths.
Palheiro Golf Club (Photo: Azalea Group)
One of the most beautiful spots in Madeira
On the club’s terrace, you can enjoy the excellent cuisine and the view over Funchal and the sea. Mediterranean dishes “with an oriental touch” are served by the neighbouring Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro, which runs the restaurant. Fish and seafood here are fresh and regional. Around a dozen desserts sweeten the memory, especially the Pastéis de Nata, for which Portugal is world-famous, should not be missed. The club terrace is definitely one of the most beautiful spots in Madeira.
The clubs terrace and its stunning view across Funchal. (Photo: Azalea Group)
Many golfers know that a golfing paradise lies off the west coast of Africa. Too few, however, know that Madeira is one of them. The archipelago, which lies about 500 kilometres north of the Canary Islands, is only just learning to understand itself as a golf destination. Yet the autonomous region of Portugal has no need to hide at all. The climate is pleasant all year round (although it can be hot in summer), the vegetation is impressive and with three golf courses there is enough variety for a golf holiday. Especially as each of the three clubs has its own characteristics.
There are also hotels to suit every taste and standard. Tourists of other sports have been here for many years. Bikers, surfers and hikers have long since discovered the main island of Madeira for themselves. On the golf courses, on the other hand, there are still many free tee times. This is probably one of the reasons why you play more relaxed rounds at Palheiro Golf Club, Santo da Serra Golf or Porto Santo Golf on the neighbouring island than further south.
Fulfil all five senses
In terms of landscape and vegetation, a comparison with the Spanish neighbours is also obvious. And here, only the northern half of Gran Canaria comes close. On Madeira, “something” is always in bloom; it’s no coincidence that it’s also called the flower island. The rugged volcanic rocks that stretch like fans from the centre of the island to the coast are also covered with lush green vegetation in many places on the southern slopes. While it often rains in the north, from which the south of the island also benefits in a sustainable way thanks to the irrigation canals, the weather situation on the two golf courses in the west is usually very stable.
Santo de Serra Golf – The sporting flagship
Santo da Serra Golf is located directly above the airport, which bears the name of the island’s most famous son – Christiano Ronaldo. The 27-hole course with over 80 years of tradition is the sporting flagship. Between 1993 and 2008 and later from 2012 to 2015, the Madeira Island Open on the European Tour took place here. It is not only the tour players who enjoy the spectacular panoramas of the green slopes opposite, across deep valleys and the views of the open sea at Santo de Serra Golf.
Of course, given the topographical conditions, there are certain differences in altitude to be overcome on the course. At the Palheiro Golf Club, only a few kilometres away, the slopes are much steeper. The holes of the Santo de Serra Golf Club, on the other hand, are relatively level. The large, open clubhouse is a great place to enjoy traditional Portuguese and Madeiran food and drinks after your round.
Palheiro Golf Club – The Unconventional One
The clubhouse terrace of the Palheiro Golf Club is also an absolute must when on holiday in Madeira. It is located around 500 metres above the city of Funchal and offers an unobstructed view of it. On the unconventionally designed par 72 course, you also have a breathtaking view of the capital of the archipelago at some points. On the course, however, it’s better to concentrate on the essentials due to many blind shots and partly rutted cart paths. If you play carefully and precisely on the not too long course, you will have a lot of fun. Sometimes wide, sometimes narrow, challenging greens, large differences in elevation – you are constantly confronted with changing tasks.
Porto Santo Golf Course – “Seves” Legacy
The course on the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, designed by Severiano Ballesteros, is completely different. It is not situated on the slopes of the steep lava cliffs like the other two clubs, but at sea level at the foot of the surrounding mountains. The course stretches almost the entire length of the small island from the dunes in the south to the basalt cliffs in the north. Thus, the course also divides into very different halves. While the northern nine shows off the coastline and sea views, the southern loop of the Porto Santo Golf Club is reminiscent of American parkland golf. There are many water hazards in play here and long hitters usually have a considerable advantage.
Porto Santo is wonderfully suited for a day trip. It takes only 20 minutes by plane from Madeira. But it’s also worth taking the ferry at least one way. A maritime dinner on the ship makes a wonderful end to the trip.
Hotels are ready for golfers
With the Madeira Golf Pass you can play three or five rounds on the three courses for a fixed price, which is much cheaper than booking a green fee each. The number of rounds you play on one of the courses is freely selectable. In the course of the expansion of golf tourism on Madeira, some hotels now also have a golf consierge available to assist with booking tee times and organising transfers.
These hotels include the Galo Resort (5 stars), a spa and wellness hotel that claims to be climate neutral. The standard rooms are quite small, but the suites are all the larger. The location of the bar and restaurant, which are built directly on the steep cliffs, is outstanding. Here you can enjoy drinks and food with an unobstructed view of the ocean, whether indoors or on one of the terraces.
The Galo Resort (Photo: Azalea Group)
Bright and colourful
Also right on the coast is the Melia Madeira Mare Resort (5 stars). Here, too, sea views are standard and the hotel is geared towards golfers. Even if the hotel has perhaps one star too many, you can spend relaxing hours here. In addition to golf, many holidaymakers oganise numerous other sporting activities. Both hotels are only about 15 minutes away from the island’s capital Funchal and thus invite you to make excursions to the coastal city.
Besides the colourful flora, the brightly painted doors of many residential houses are a particular tourist magnet. One of the best places to get to know the extent of the island’s diverse vegetation is the Palheiro Garden, which borders directly on the golf course. The oldest trees have been here for almost 200 years. Thanks to the subtropical climate, there are different flowers to admire in every season.
Palheiro Gardens (Photo: Azalea Group)
Gran Canaria is not a privileged place, neither for “tourists on foot” nor for golfers. But although visitors to the Canary Islands flock to the beaches and bars, the third of the seven islets off the African coast guarantees a relaxing time. Gran Canaria seven golf courses have a lot to do with this great experience and are not to be missed, reason enough for an island getaway.
South Vs North environment
There are four golf courses in the south of the island, and three in the northeast. In the west of the island, which is sparsely populated and has so far seen little tourist traffic, golf courses are sought after in vain. In the south, Gran Canaria offers golf courses for party-goers (Playa del Inglés) as well as for visitors seeking tranquillity (Meloneras). Only a few kilometres of dunes separate both golf courses. These are mostly green oases in an arid landscape.
In the north, on the other hand, the land is much greener, which is due to the mountains in the middle of the island, which stop the rain when there is a constant wind from the north. At the same time, this makes the weather in the southern half more stable than in almost any other holiday destination, with pleasant temperatures.
Golf in the south of Gran Canaria
Lopesan Meloneras Golf
The 18-hole Lopesan Meloneras Golf course is not far from the tourist strongholds around Maspalomas. It offers peace and relaxation. While the first nine are inland and offer a view of the mountains in the centre of the island, the last nine take you directly along the sea for the most part.
The course condition is excellent, great to play in summer. Although the course is ready for the main season during the winter, the great care allows play at any time of the year. Large greens and wide fairways make the holiday round a pleasurable experience. Keeping your concentration on the second nine is the real difficulty due to the beautiful landscape and picturesque views.
From begining of October to end of April, Gran Canaria golf courses set their high season, and the 18-hole green fee costs 137 euros. In the low season (1 May – 30 September), the price drops to 80 euros. A cart costs 20 euros, but also has a GPS system on board that measures distances and explains the holes. The field is a leg-breaker due to the up and down hills all thoughout. Therefore, renting a cart is always a good choice.
Anfi Tauro Golf
Another highlight on Gran Canaria is Anfi Tauro Golf a little further west than Lopesan Meloneras Golf. Only opened in 2007, the par-72 course is the youngest on the island. It was designed by Hagge, Smelek and Baril, who were also responsible for the layout at Doral Country Club in Florida.
The maintenance in the hilly terrain matches the the spectacularity of the views of the sea. The holes have been integrated into the landscape. The green fee is between 80 (summer) and 120 euros (winter). However, you have to add the fees for a cart, because you don’t want to walk around this area – especially not on holiday.
Salobre Golf & Resort
Salobre Golf & Resort is home to two courses, the Old Course, which opened in 2000, and the New Course, added eight years later. The 36-hole course is the only one of its kind in Gran Canaria.
The Old Course is a par-71 that plays a little longer than the New Course as par-72, with a 400m difference. Like everywhere in the south of the island, the terrain is hilly and interspersed with ravines. This also makes Salobre Golf & Resort a holiday experience with lasting memories. The green fee ranges from 100 to 120 euros in winter, and in low season you have to shell out 56 to 67 euros.
Maspalomas Golf is directly behind the aforementioned dune landscape that separates party people from those seeking relaxation. The surprisingly flat par-73 holes stretch over almost 6,400 metres. The layout is not particularly imaginative, the holes are wide and straight through the landscape, which is rather unspectacular here compared to other courses. For an 18-hole round, 109 to 118 euros are charged in the winter months, 65 euros in the low season.
Golf in the north of Gran Canaria
Real Club de Golf Las Palmas (Bandama Golf)
The Real Club de Golf Las Palmas is the oldest golf club in Spain and was founded in 1891. Unfortunately, you can feel this here and there in the rooms of the clubhouse, which are in need of an overhaul. The course is in a fantastic location – on a high plateau in front of Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria. At the same time, the location explains the lenght of the short par-71 course, less than 6,000 metres from the back tees. Guests are welcome from Monday to Friday, on weekends the course is reserved for members.
Las Palmeras Golf Club
The northernmost club on Gran Canaria is Las Palmeras Golf Club. Opened in 2006, the par-3 course is very short, with only two holes longer than 100 metres, but the course is definitely a challenge. Sloping fairways, deep bunkers and some water hazards make missed greens a real challenge. The fun, which is definitely conducive to iron play, costs 25 euros green fee per person, guaranteeing the sea view in some spots.
The Golf Post recommendation
Basically, you can’t go wrong with the courses in the south. The favourites here are Lopesan Meloneras Golf, Anfi Tauro Golf and Salobre Golf & Resort. Although you have to dig deep into your pockets during the high season, many hotels offer packages with discounts on green fees. The courses in the north are a bit outdated, but they also offer what makes golf in Gran Canaria a highlight. That is of course picturesque panoramas and impressive nature.
Attractions and excursions on Gran Canaria
Along the coast
In addition to golfing, Gran Canaria offers many other activities. In the summer you can even witness dolphin species a few kilometres off the coast. During winter, the whales take over and also pass by the island. These can be observed excellently from large and small excursion boats.
The wild interior
The interior of the island is also a must. Whether on foot on hikes or in a rented convertible on lonely mountain roads, many picturesque mountain villages can be discovered in the mountains in the middle of Gran Canaria. The highest point on the island, the Pico da las Nieves, also offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole island.
The south coast
Along the south coast, there are numerous villages directly by the sea. Despite numerous bed castles in the foothills of the mountain ranges, they have for the most part retained their own identity.
You can explore all or several of them along the coastal road GC-500. There, you can still find family-owned orchards with sun-drenched mangoes and other delicacies.
A must-see, of course, is the island’s capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Whether in the old town with its grand cathedral, on the beach or in the newer quarters. Here you will find something for everyone, from the art museum to the street food festival.
There is still one “insider tip”
The caves of Barranco de Guayadeque. In spectacular mountain scenery, you will find numerous caves here that were actually inhabited in the past. Today, some of them have been converted into restaurants and offer excellent food for little money away from the tourist crowds.
The Guayadeque Museum also provides information about the original way of life of the valley inhabitants. At the end of the valley, a fantastic view to the south awaits you.
Las Colinas Golf & Country Club continues to make a name for itself as one of the continent’s most sought-after golf destinations after being voted as ‘Spain’s Best Golf Course’ and ‘World’s Leading Golf & Villa Resort’ at the 2021 World Golf Awards.
Building on the recent success for Las Colinas at the World Travel Awards, this marks Las Colinas Golf & Country Club’s fifth successive year being nominated for the honour of ‘Spain’s Best Golf Course’ and their second win as ‘World’s Leading Golf & Villas Resort’.
Las Colinas Golf & Country Club’s latest successes at the World Golf Awards highlights their goal to offer the best service and amenities, so every guest can enjoy a unique golfing experience.
Las Colinas blows the candles wishing for more years of development.
As the Resort is celebrating its 10th anniversary, in 2021, Las Colinas has unveiled multiple new and improved five-star facilities this year, including an enhanced golf course, with an emphasis on sustainability.
Javier Rodriguez, head of operations, said: “We are very proud to receive this recognition once again, coinciding with the celebration of our 10th anniversary. It is truly an honour to receive this award, a symbol of the effort and hard work of each member of the Las Colinas team.”
The World Golf Awards serves to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism, world-class courses and golf destinations. Votes are made by professionals working within the golf travel and tourism industry and golf tourism consumers.
Chris Frost, vice president of the World Golf Awards, said: “Las Colinas Golf & Country Club has done an exceptional job of renovating their championship golf course this year and we feel it has really enhanced the golfers experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Las Colinas, to see the steps they have taken to improve their golf course and overall sustainability.”
Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is regarded as one of Europe’s premier golf and real estate resorts where private homes and the 18-hole championship golf course blend harmoniously into natural surroundings, between rolling hills and the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
Designed by acclaimed American architect Cabell B. Robinson, Las Colinas’ 18-hole championship golf course offers wide fairways and extensive undulating greens, with the numerous tees at each hole giving the course great versatility.
Enjoying more than 300 days’ sunshine a year, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is surrounded by a natural park of up to 10,000 hectares, only six kilometres from the coast. Along with these two awards as Spain’s Best Golf Course and World’s Leading Golf & Villas Resort, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club was crowned ‘Spain’s Leading Villa Resort’ and ‘Europe’s Leading Resort Villas’ at the 2021 World Travel Awards.
San Domenico Golf, located in the Puglia region of Italy, will provide the setting for the Sergio Melpignano Senior Italian Open from November 3-5, 2021.
San Domenico Golf
The South East Italy venue will welcome the Legends Tour for its final stop on European soil before the MCB Tour Championship – Mauritius in December, as the inaugural Legends Tour season edges towards its conclusion.
San Domenico Golf is rich in history and has previously hosted the prestigious Challenge Tour Grand Final between 2005 and 2012. The course will be a true test for many with carefully positioned fairways containing centenary olive trees and glimpses of the ancient city of Egnathia, combined with strategically designed bunkers.
Bringing first-class golf to Puglia
The event will be played as a legacy to the late Sergio Melpignano, the driving force behind the development of the resort and through his visionary entrepreneurship and determination he inspiringly lived his lifelong dream of bringing first-class golf to Puglia.
A strong field is set to compete for the title in Puglia, including Costantino Rocca, the five-time European Tour winner and two-time Legends Tour winner. Rocca was the first Italian to compete in the Ryder Cup in 1993 and will be joined at San Domenico by two-time winner of the event Clark Dennis, of the United States, and Senior Major Champions Stephen Dodd and Roger Chapman.
England’s Barry Lane will tee it up as defending champion after triumphing in the most recent edition of the event in 2019 when he defeated Frenchman Marc Farry in a play-off, while 2005 U.S. Open Champion Michael Campbell will also travel to San Domenico.
Additionally, three-time European Tour winner Anders Hansen will make his Legends Tour debut at the Sergio Melpignano Senior Italian Open after turning 50 in 2020.
Legends Tour Chief Executive comments
Phil Harrison, Chief Executive of the Legends Tour, said: “San Domenico Golf is a truly stunning venue and fits perfectly with our ethos of visiting world class destinations and showcasing them to the world.
“We are all looking forward to visiting Puglia next month as we bring the European leg of our season to an end.”
The Senior Italian Open will take place with the support of DS Automobiles, Fideuram, Kappa and Eureco, Corriere dello Sport, Tuttosport, Il Giornale and Infront. Sport Senza Frontiere Onlus has also been integral in carrying out the goal of social inclusion through golf in Italy.
Press Release from the European Tour Communications