Golf tourism is booming and with good reason. What could be finer than playing the game you love against a breathtaking back drop?
"‘Golf," wrote Mark Twain, "is a good walk spoiled."
But behind this disparaging notion remains the basic truth that golf courses tend to be set in idyllic parts of the world. And this of course, irrespective of whether or not you swing a club, makes for perfect vacation locations.
No surprise, then, that golf tourism is one of the biggest growth areas in travel. We’ve scoured the globe to find our favourite five.
Celtic Manor Resort
Usk Valley, South Wales
In October the golfing elite of Europe and America will descend on this beautiful corner of Wales for the Ryder Cup. The course was purpose-built for a previous Ryder Cup and is both suitably challenging and suitably glamorous. 1,400 acres of panoramic parkland, two hotels – a 330-room luxury Resort Hotel and the historic 19th century Manor House, spas, health clubs, sports and fishing facilities and five outstanding restaurants.
Cost: From $99 per night.
Vale de Lobo Portugal
Two challenging courses, Royal and Ocean, are set against the Algarve’s crystal blue sea. Players will appreciate the dramatic cliff edge fairways while non-golfers will love the gorgeous beaches. Add in loads of other sport and leisure facilities and top international cuisine and you may well have the perfect golf family holiday.
Cost: Green fees $155
Hawle’s Bay, New Zealand
Super-dramatic location on a former 5,000-acre sheep station -- and one hellishly testing course. The cliffs are so high that a badly struck ball will take a full 10 seconds to hit the water. Fearsome ravines, contoured fairways and fast, tilted greens all make for a breathtaking round.
Cost: Suites from $400 per person, per night.
The water hazards here include baboons, crocodiles, giraffes and warthogs that come to drink in the streams of Leopard Creek, on the edge of the Kruger National Park. Perfect for in between World Cup games.
Green Monkey Barbados
The ninth plunges through walls of rock 100 feet into a quarry. The 16th is a grassy island carved in the shape of a green monkey. Oh, and it’s in the Barbados.
Cost: Rooms at Sandy Lane resort from $755 per night.