You call yourself a golfer and you’ve haven’t been to the European greens?! Pfffft. From the days when the sport was a wee bairn maturing under the Scottish mists to the modern era where resorts are designed by professional golfers on the coastline of Spain, you have much to discover young grasshopper. Let’s start by hopping across the Atlantic Ocean, preferably in an aircraft, and engaging in a round of 18 on Europe’s finest courses:
The Old Course at St. Andrews, East Coast of Scotland
The Scots are a proud people, living on an island shaped by majestic peaks and green glens. It was these whisky-loving, kilt-wearing inhabitants of the Highlands that first thought it would be a good idea to whack a little ball with a stick, and what a glorious achievement it was. Voyage to the Old Course at St. Andrews, a narrow strip of land that juts into the North Sea, to experience links golf at its best. Cross the Swilcan Bridge to tread grass walked by the game’s biggest talents, and revel in the challenge of pitting yourself against their scores. The oldest and most iconic, it’s no wonder why this is considered to be one of the best golf courses in Europe.
Larchenhof, Pulheim, Germany
While distinguished by gigantic soccer players and luxury automobiles, launching that pesky white ball toward its target is a popular sport in Germany. Put down the black forest cake–it’ll only interfere with your swing–and pick up your clubs. It’s time to take on Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof. Amid a scattering of trees and thick rough, skilled fades and pinpoint accuracy is required to triumph here. Take a risk and miss the fairway, and your ball is instantly gobbled up by beautifully landscaped water or sand.
Valderrama, Sotogrande, Spain
You’ll say “Viva España” after you see the golf resorts that have been popping up in the land of sunshine and sangria. Valderrama, one of the best-known courses, is located a short drive north of Gibraltar. Elevated greens deliver 360° views of gently rolling plains covered in short-cropped grass. If you can’t get to the beach during your stay, don’t worry, the countless sand traps will make you feel as if you’re there all day long. It’s worth noting that many transplanted Brits live in Spain, so communications issues shouldn’t be a problem.
The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England
Partake of a cuppa tea and some small triangular sandwiches before greeting this scion of golfing. It may be raining, but that’s part of the charm of the locale (or so say the English). Rain or shine, this course is one of the most iconic spots for golf in all of Europe. It begins with the ivy-covered hotel, a resort that recently received a $40 million dollar remodel, and opens out to a series of fairways that roll endlessly toward receptive greens.
Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
It’ll take more than a shillelagh stick and Celtic stubbornness to conquer this stately golf course in the land of our forefathers. Sculpted by natural Irish beauty and legendary architects, this course takes your game through a landscape of burnt yellows and moody greens, shades that rise up to meet a low gray sky. The renowned Royal County Down course is another links course, one that’s soaked in history. At 7,186 yards, the championship course can challenge anyone, but remember to look up occasionally to feel the breeze of the Irish Sea and the dewy mist from the moors.
Think you can hack it across the pond? Plan your next trip to visit one of these gorgeous, historical courses in Europe.