Where to Travel for Golf in 2021
The pandemic has disrupted our lives in numerous aspects, but despite the recurring frustrations of lockdown, golfers have gratefully managed to still play regularly for the most part. However, one area that has been clearly impacted is travel, with many a golf break postponed or cancelled in the face of restrictions, especially internationally.
Keen golfers are ultimately looking ahead to better days in the future. When recently surveyed on Golfshake, 62% of people were keen to experience an overnight golf trip in 2021, with 23% of them having already booked. A further 19% understandably remain undecided, but these figures highlight the rich enthusiasm that exists to embark on a break this year.
It's very likely that domestic "staycations" will be the norm for a majority people later in the season when things begin to reopen again, but that can be a rewarding prospect.
When asked to identify where they are most looking forward to playing in 2021, aside from the obvious (Anywhere!) a significant proportion of respondents mentioned Ireland and Scotland, with others picking out specific venues or towns, including Celtic Manor, Gleneagles, The Belfry, The Grove, Ballybunion, Muirfield, St Andrews, Woburn, Saunton, and Sunningdale.
The QHotels Group, which manages seven resorts in England and Scotland, has already sold 40,000 rounds of golf for the months ahead - once again emphasising a keenness that is palpable.
For some further advice and inspiration on where you should play this season, check out Must Play Bucket List Golf Courses to Experience in 2021 and 36 of the Best Golf Courses to Play in 2021.
Travelling further afield beyond the UK and Ireland is somewhat less certain given the continually evolving situation that we find ourselves in, but nonetheless, 38% of golfers do hope to play overseas at some point this year, with 14% of them having already booked through companies like Golfbreaks.
Those appealing climates of Portugal, Spain and Turkey remain hugely popular, with emerging golf destinations such as Cyprus also drawing acclaim from many a hopeful traveller.
If you are considering a golf holiday - whether it be this year or in the future - here are some recommended hotspots to think about.
Future Travel Destinations to Consider
Portugal - Vilamoura
The Vilamoura Resort is one of the largest single tourist complexes in Europe and covers some 2.000 hectares. It is a lively year-round destination, with plenty to keep you occupied. There are great beaches close by, making water sports a popular activity, from jet skiing to parasailing. There is a plethora of bars and clubs, from quiet jazz bars to the biggest club in the Algarve that can hold 7,000 people. There are also lots of casinos if clubbing isn't your thing, with plenty of cabaret-style shows for you to enjoy. The food here is excellent, and caters for many types of cuisine; from the traditional dishes of the region to pizzas and pasta dishes.
Facilities include six golf courses, a marina, lawn bowling club, tennis centre, sports club, shooting club, horse riding school, 5-star and 4-star Hotels, apartments, self-catering villas, night clubs and a casino with glamorous shows. Around the marina are many shops, bars and restaurants offering different cuisines.
Pestana Vila Sol
Hotel bedrooms are available in both the main hotel as well as around the resort and are fitted to the highest standard to provide a peaceful atmosphere for a relaxing stay. The hotel boasts the Green Pines Restaurant offering a wide choice of international cuisine from breakfast through to dinner. Bar Prime, the main bar, offers a relaxed feel with an esplanade by the lake, making it the ideal spot to enjoy a drink at dusk while enjoying the views. The excellent location of Pestana Vila Sol means you are only five minutes away from the international marina in Vilamoura, which has several other bars and restaurants to enjoy. Vila Sol also has plenty of top-of-the-range leisure facilities, including an outdoor heated swimming pool, two tennis courts, a jogging circuit, a kid's club and a beach club. The hotel is also close to the beautiful Algarve beaches.
Dom Pedro Vilamoura
Dom Pedro Vilamoura offers a fantastic location for keen golfers looking to be near some of Vilamoura’s top golf courses. The 263 rooms are fully air-conditioned, with TV, radio, telephone, a mini-bar and a safe. Additionally, many of the rooms also have a private balcony with views of the sea or the garden. The onsite leisure facilities will provide a break from golf as well as the Oliva Buffet Restaurant serving some mouthwatering Portuguese cuisine.
There are six challenging courses in the area - Laguna, Millennium, Old Course, Pinhal, Victoria and Vila Sol.
The 18 holes have been laid out over level ground and has a links feel, all the more so because the wind often blows here. It features plenty of well-positioned bunkers and water hazards and calls for accuracy from the tee if you are going to score well. The signature hole is the par-three 12th which measures 200 yards and calls for a precise shot struck over a vast expanse of water. It shares a clubhouse with the neighbouring Millennium course.
The 18 hole Millennium Golf Course is a delight. It is fairly open, although the stretch of holes from the third to the seventh wind through pine trees. The sixth hole is a cracker of a par three of 175 yards, featuring trees to the right and a lake that guards the left of the narrow green, with a deep bunker to the left.
The Old Course is the second oldest golf course in the Algarve. Set in an umbrella pinewood and laid out to make the most of the natural contours, it has an English feel. The opening holes are relatively straightforward with a number of reachable par fours.This is a course that requires accuracy from the tee. The back nine features three par fives and are the key to scoring well here.
Pinhal is a parkland course that meanders through a pine forest. The fairways on the front nine are lined by magnificent holiday villas.The well positioned bunkers are to be avoided. It was designed by Frank Pennink and first opened in 1976, with renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr making a number of changes in 1985. A par 72 measuring just short of 7,000 yards, it features hundreds of umbrella and Atlantic pines, and water comes into play on five holes. The back nine is more open, allowing golfers to open their shoulders.
Victoria Golf Course is relatively flat but features a number of man-made dunes, lakes and waterfalls. It is home to the Portugal Masters and is the longest course in Portugal. Every hole has a minimum of five tees, making it suitable for golfers of all levels. It also has one of the largest practice putting greens you will ever see.
Vila Sol Golf Course is is divided into three circuits of nine holes - Prime, Challenge, and Prestige. Opened in 1991, it was designed by Donald Steel and has twice hosted the Portugal Masters. Holes 1-9 of the Prime loop are the most difficult, the long and narrow fairways surrounded by lakes, calling for accuracy from the tee. The Challenge loop (holes 10-18) is characterised by its heavily undulating greens while the Prestige loop (holes 19-27) requires accuracy to find the narrow fairways.
Spain - Jerez
As well as the many activities available at Jerez, visitors have lots of choice. Take a day trip to Cadiz, an ancient port city known for its long and influential history, whilst also boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in southern Spain. Jerez de la Frontera is another popular tourist attraction famed for its sherry wine and many wineries. If you are travelling at Easter, you simply must attend the famous religious festival, Feria de Jerez.
Barcelo Montecastillo Golf Resort is an outstanding five-star venue. It has 124 rooms, a wellness leisure centre and onsite golf club. It is located just 10 minutes from the city's airport and only half an hour from the beach. Each room is decorated in a traditional Andalusian style, which is simple yet elegant. Choose from a fine selection of room types which include superior, superior golf view, deluxe, junior suite, suite, villa and villa 2 bedroom. The El Lagar Restaurant is located in the main hotel and offers fine regional cuisine as well as a wide variety of international dishes. For a more informal meal, Ricardo’s Snack Bar is perfect, offering typical tapas dishes to suit the Andalusian atmosphere. The Wellness Leisure Centre includes a heated pool, a spa complete with a heated indoor pool, jacuzzi, steam room and a gym. The U-Spa at Barcelo Montecastillo is a luxury rejuvenation centre which has been designed to offer guests a five-star experience.Other onsite services and amenities include multiple football pitches, tennis courts and multi-sports courts, and a golf academy.
Montecastillo Golf is an 18-hole, par 72 parkland course designed by Jack Nicklaus and he reckons it is one of his best. It hosted the European Tour's Volvo Masters for five consecutive years from 1997 to 2001. The course features superb practice facilities, including a driving range and chipping and putting greens. Montecastillo Golf is widely regarded as being one of the best courses in Spain and is a really good test for players of all abilities - two million euros have been spent on the course over the past couple of years so you know that you are going to find perfectly-manicured fairways, fabulous greens and well-placed bunkers.
Spain - Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol is one of the most popular destinations for British tourists, with resorts such as Malaga, Torremolinos, Marbella and Fuengirola attracting tens of thousands of us every year.
Cuisine on the Costa del Sol has been influenced historically by Spanish, Jewish and Arabic traditions, and emphasises seafood.Gazpacho is a famous refreshing cold soup made of raw tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green peppers, garlic, bread, oil and vinegar. Spanish omelettes made with potatoes and served cold, are typical, and a plate of thin-sliced dry-cured ham, with a glass of sherry or local wine is a traditional combination. Churros (fried-dough pastries) served hot and dipped in hot chocolate are a typical breakfast food. You will find lots of pubs, restaurants and clubs, ensuring lively nightlife, as well as plenty of shops.
The Gran Hotel Elba Estepona
The Gran Hotel Elba Estepona is a five-star luxury hotel, situated on the beachfront near Estepona. It features 204 rooms, all of which have a sea view. It also has an award-winning spa and three fantastic themed restaurants. The hotel is located just 3 km from the city of Estepona, where you can enjoy traditional Spanish culture and food, before retiring back to the hotel to either prepare for your next round of golf or even a trip to the nearby sandy beaches.
Hotel Encinar de Sotogrande is a four-star 1960 American styled hotel located near to the Sotogrande harbour and Guadiaro town. There are 106 fantastic fashionable rooms, with the beach just minutes away. It has recently been renovated and all rooms have satellite TV and internet access. The hotel has great views looking over the marina, the Mediterranean and the Rock of Gibraltar which can all be enjoyed from the courtyard and rooftop terraces. As well as beautiful views, the Sotogrande hotel boasts a delightful restaurant which will provide you with a delicious meal amidst a fantastic atmosphere.
Valderrama was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Snr. and played host to the Ryder Cup in 1997. The course has played host to numerous competitions over the years, including the Andalucía Masters. This is one tough golf course, ranked the best in Spain by Golf Digest Magazine. Each hole has six tees. The par-five 17th is the signature hole, requiring an accurate drive and a well-placed second before an approach over a lake to a green that slopes severely from back to front. Avoid the back bunker at all costs - if you don’t you will face an impossible shot.
This 18-hole, par 72, parkland course features a host of risk-and-reward holes. It is an undulating layout with lakes and bunkers. The newly renovated clubhouse is spectacular and the restaurant offers a great place to enjoy a bite to eat or a drink after a round on this excellent layout. Estepona is set against the background of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range and also enjoys great sea views from most parts of the course. There is plenty of room for error as the fairways are wide and the greens large, but accuracy is key if you want to avoid those long putts. There are many palms, eucalyptus and wild olive trees skirting the fairways and combined with sea views on almost every hole you'll want to have some time out to take it all in
Although Finca Cortesin golf course was only opened in 2007 it is already regarded as one of the best in Spain. The Cabell Robinson-designed course bisects a dramatic valley. There are many signature holes, including the par-five third, which calls fora well-placed shot over water. Perhaps the best and most difficult hole is the par-three 12th, which measures 220 yards and is played from an elevated tee to a green surrounded by deep bunkers. The green is the biggest on the course, so make sure you find the right part as it is notoriously difficult to read.
La Reserva de Sotogrande is an 18-hole, par-72 parkland course designed by Cabell Robinson. This fantastic layout is considered by many to be even better than Valderrama. The impressive clubhouse offers golfers the perfect place to enjoy a drink after the enjoyable round. It is a links course set over 72 hectares. The fairways are generous and every hole features five tees. The key here is to put your drive in the right place and if you can do that you will be rewarded.
Cyprus is a stunning Mediterranean island with a wonderful climate - even in January you can expect the temperature to reach 20C during the day. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and glorious sandy beaches. An added bonus for British tourists is that they drive on the left - and everybody speaks perfect English.
Aphrodite Hills Holiday Residences offers a range of luxurious villas with the spectacular views that have made Paphos such a sought-after holiday destination. It is a superb alternative to the Aphrodite Hills Hotel.
The five-star apartments, townhouses and villas at Aphrodite Hills Holiday Residences offer guests a luxurious and tranquil setting within superb surroundings and views over the golf course, mountains, ravine or the Mediterranean. Many properties have private or communal swimming pools, sunbeds and barbecue areas. Choose from one, two or three-bedroom apartments, each offering either a garden or balcony and a communal pool. All properties are beautifully furnished with entertainment facilities, air conditioning, fully fitted kitchens and bathrooms. The split-level townhouses come as either two or three-bedroom properties, slightly larger than the apartments and all with balconies, private gardens and use of the communal pools. Each townhouse has a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning and is located within walking distance to the village square.
Many junior villas come with a private pool. The 2 or 3 bedroom villas have all the luxurious furnishing as the apartments and townhouses, but more suited to guests looking for that little bit of extra privacy. Visiting residents can enjoy the stunning views over the surrounding area from the comfort of their villa.
For the ultimate treat and privacy, the superior villas come in the form of 2, 3, 4 or 5 bedrooms and are all individually furnished. All come with a swimming pool, fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning and landscaped gardens. These villas are perfect for families and larger groups or those who are just wanting to indulge in the luxurious surroundings in a spacious villa.
The Apartments and Junior Villas are grouped in five villages throughout the resort and many are within walking distance from the village square, ideally located nearby the spa, shops and restaurants. The Superior Villas are spread through the resort, many on the Eastern plateau which is a five-minute drive from the village square. The spa at Aphrodite Hills Hotel and Apartments is a state-of-the-art facility. There are thermal rooms and an outdoor infinity swimming pool.
The village square is a popular place for guests, featuring a shopping arcade, restaurants and pubs, as well as children’s playground and children’s clubs. The St. Catherine’s chapel adds to the Cypriot feel of this village square.
There is also a tennis academy, horse riding mini-golf, nature trail walks and cycling.
Elea Golf Club
The Eléa golf course was designed by Nick Faldo. It opened in October 2010 and is regarded as one of the best courses in the Mediterranean. The five-star clubhouse overlooks the stunning golf course layout and with one of golf’s greats behind the design it is an exciting part of the golf development that is making South West Cyprus a great golfing destination. The golf course was placed in the top 10 new international courses in 2010 by Golf Magazine and has been recognised by Golf World magazine as "one of the world’s most exciting new golf courses”. A combination of teeing areas means the course length can be varied from 5,700 yards to 6,900 yards for men and 5,100 yards for women. With numerous bunkers guarding the fairways and greens and large run-off areas, this is a great challenge for all. The layout makes its way among the natural elements of Carob trees and weathered limestone and offers fantastic views of the Mediterranean from all parts of the course.
PGA National, Cyprus
PGA National, Cyprus - Aphrodite Hills is a joy to play. It provides challenging holes and stunning views, with a fantastic year-round climate. And if this isn’t enough, it also comes complete with two excellent choices of accommodation – the Aphrodite Hills Hotel and the Holiday Residences. The course was designed by Cabell Robinson and offers stunning panoramic views. Measuring 6,928 yards, it is lined with olive and carob trees but is relatively open for a parkland layout. There is also a state-of-the-art golf academy.
For more travel information and destinations, at home or abroad, visit Golfbreaks.
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