Stellar leading golf opportunities in Europe

The Leading Hotels of the World, the largest luxury hotel collection (more than 430 of the world’s greatest properties in over 80 countries), invites us to pack our clubs and start planning the next golf holiday. LHW introduces a host of golf courses for those not playing the masters. Here are some of the best golf courses

Located in Provence, not far from Cannes and Nice, Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort is an invitation to discovery. The resort’s two golf courses were designed by Dave Thomas and inspired by the surrounding environment, blending perfectly into the valleys, cascades and ravines that make them up. Inaugurated in 2004, the Le Château course is listed as one of the best in continental Europe. Measuring 7,235 yards, it stands out for its spectacular water features, rapid greens, and great sand bunkers. This demanding course offers a splendid challenge requiring precision and shot length skills.

Accessible to golfers with a handicap under 35, it provides playing conditions worthy of any championship. With steep fairways and elaborate greens, the Le Riou course is both technically challenging and fun. Calling for a large variety of strokes, this spectacular 6,567-yard course requires a strong game strategy. The view over the villages of Pays de Fayence is nothing less than vertiginous!

The greens don’t get much greener than the ones on the Emerald Isle. And set against a backdrop of a 13th-century castle, the ones at Ashford Castle are inspiring in the bargain! Situated 35 kilometers north-west of Galway on the northern shores of Lough Corrib, the beautiful nine-hole, 2,996 yard, par 35 parkland course provides the perfect environment for golfers of all ages to hone their skills.

The course was designed by the renowned Irish golf architect, Eddie Hackett and was created with imaginative integration of natural features and hazards, ensuring a marvelous contribution to the tough par 3’s, exciting par 4’s and formidable par 5. Like a lot of nine-hole courses, though, there are two sets of tees, giving you something slightly different to think about as you are playing your second round. There are ladies’ tees, too, and from these the nine holes measure a total of 2,253 yards. Those who can bear to venture off the castle grounds, can enjoy rounds on some of the finest links courses in the world; Connemara, Carne, Enniscrone, Sligo and Castlerock are just a few of the many that are in easy reach of the Castle estate.

The excellent golf course of the Vidago Palace in northern Portugal was redesigned by the firm Cameron and Powell from a Mackenzie Ross original, built in 1936. The present course was completely rebuilt according to USGA specifications for tees and greens, and has been transformed into a par 72 course, enhancing the organization of International Championships, keeping the identity of the original design and faithfully reflecting the beauty, the spirit and the distinctive nature of the surrounding area.

The course itself is complemented by The Club House, housed in the large stone building that once served as the main bottling facility for Vidago mineral water. Dating back to 1886, the original stonework has been carefully restored, while inside, architect Alvaro Siza Vieira has applied his unique contemporary flair to create a truly impressive space. Here, under the vaulted ceiling and central glass roof, golfers and guests will find a restaurant, bar, lounge area with WIFI access, pro shop, meeting room and locker facility.

Perhaps best known as a health and wellness destination, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is the only resort in Switzerland to have two golf courses of its own. The 18-hole PGA Championship Course offers everything that golf enthusiasts could possibly desire. Here beginners and professionals alike find a very special challenge. The 5,700-meter course was laid out by Don Harradine for all types of play as a flat golf course which combines all the beauties of nature, with its unspoiled park setting with firs, birches and pines, natural water hazards and an impressive mountain backdrop.

The excellence of the course has been recognized by the German Golf Course Association, which awarded the course five stars, the only one in Switzerland to be so honored. The 9-hole Executive Course with Golf Academy is perfect for beginners and offers ideal practice facilities. Experts will find that the course offers a particular challenge for their short game skills. After a relaxing round of golf, there’s nothing to beat a culinary tête-à-tête at the acclaimed Golf Restaurant, or the relaxed Golf Bistro. Or weary players may repair to the 12,800-square-meter spa, one of the largest in Europe. The sprawling complex features ten spring-water-filled indoor and outdoor pools, three sauna and steam bath zones, Asian treatment suites and a private spa.