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The Cascades Golf in Soma Bay
Golf cart on beach
Järviseudum Golf Club, Lappajärvi

Golf is a game that is variously considered a pastime, recreation, sport, profession, religion or an obsession. The apparent object is to knock a small hard ball into a designated hole, using only a minimum number of blows of a stick or club, while avoiding the hazards of the terrain such as vegetation, water, soft ground and loose sand. While this may appear frustrating to some, the pleasure that so many people do derive from working out their frustrations in the course of this game means that golf and visiting the golf courses where the game is played is a significant reason for travel.


Golf originated at Saint Andrews, in Scotland. Because of this, Scotland, and in particular the Old Course at St. Andrews, is considered the traditional home of Golf, and the standard to which all other Golf Courses are compared.

Golf spread throughout the British Isles, and by 1829, beyond them with the establishment of the "Royal Calcutta Golf Club" in India. By the end of the 19th Century, Clubs in Ireland, The United States of America, and Wales had come together to organise the sport at their respective national levels. Scotland and England followed after the First World War. Golf has two global Governing Bodies, the "R&A" at St Andrew's, Scotland and the "United States Golf Association" which work closely in partnership, for example in agreeing to changes to the "Rules of Golf". This joint approach helps to ensure that golf has not suffered the fate of other sports and split between a "British" sport, (e.g. Rugby and Cricket) and an "American" analogue (e.g. American Football and Baseball). Golf is golf wherever you play in the world, with the same standard rules, which is particularly useful if you want to play the sport outside your own country.

Today, perhaps one of the first two things that developers consider when wanting to attract more tourism to a destination is where to put the (next) golf course to go with the hotel they are wanting to develop.



Golf as we understand it originated in Scotland, although it is probable that ancestor games to modern golf originated on the Continent. However both the insular and continental European golfers do not let such matters divide them too much, when it comes to the Ryder Cup. That biennial trophy succeeds every two years to unify the Europeans in a way that has so far eluded the European Union.

The British Isles remain the main focus of golf in Europe. Throughout the British Isles you will find many good quality courses. The Celtic countries, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, in particular hit above their weight in terms of the courses they offer. This is due to the fact that their extensive coastlines offer ample opportunities to build links courses. Their larger neighbour England also has many fine courses. The most famous course undoubtedly would be the Old Course at St Andrews.

Iberia offers also offers the second most important focus for European Golf. Golf courses have developed in both Spain and Portugal, particularly in coastal areas. Valderama is probably the most famous of the continental courses the venue of the only European Ryder Cup held on Mainland Europe.

Other destinations have also developed golf courses. In France courses seem to be located disproportionately in the West of the country, in particular in Brittany. The Czech Republic for example has seen new courses open since the fall of communism, and the Scandinavian countries offer the opportunity of around the clock golf during the summer months.

In the current economic climate due to the relative weakness of Sterling, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales probably offer better value than Eurozone destinations.


The legendary home of golf and home to the one of the game's two co-governing bodies, the R&A. Scotland and St. Andrews in particular is a must for any golfing enthusiast and is estimated to have around 400 course - not all are open to the public and so the real figure is unknown.

Courses in Scotland include

  • St Andrews - where else but...
  • Carnoustie in Angus - venue for the 2007 Open Championship (and 6 previous Opens)
  • Gleneagles in Perthshire
  • Royal Troon - Open Championship course on the beautiful Ayrshire Coast
  • Royal Dornoch - One the trickiest course available
  • Turnberry in Ayrshire - A newer (1903) Open Championship course attached to a world class hotel
  • Muirfield - A highly rated championship course
  • The South Fife coast - Not an individual course but more of an experience. An area near St. Andrews where every town and village has its own course (no-matter how small). While they may vary in standard it is interesting to play in an area where the game is universally popular.

The Scottish Executive's official golf tourism website [1] gives details of all courses in Scotland.


See Golf in England for further details.

England has a long golfing history.

Courses include.

  • Royal Birkdale
  • Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, Wirral
  • Royal Lytham and St Anne's
  • Royal St George's, Sandwich, Kent
  • The Belfry- Venue for a number of Ryder Cups
  • Wentworth- Venue for the World Matchplay Championship


Scotland may be the home of golf, but Ireland was in fact the first country to organise golf on a national level. It has become one of the most popular golf destinations worldwide in recent years. With over 440 courses to choose from (over 40% of all global links courses!) deciding where to play is never easy- but is always fun.

Ireland has more than its fair share of superstar golf courses. Known the world over, they need no introduction and attract golfers from North America, Europe and beyond. Famous courses include:

  • The K (Kildare) Club, in the Republic of Ireland, venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup
  • Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland, the venue for the only Open Championship not held in Great Britain.
  • Killeen Castle, in the Republic, venue for the 2011 Solheim Cup.

However the island also has a wealth of hidden gems, the sort of courses that delight the connoisseur, cherished not only for their quality but also for their relative anonymity.

The Island of Ireland's official golf tourism website [2] is a good source of general information.

Beacause of their strong relationships with courses, hotels and a transportation providers- specialist Dublin based tour operators can also be a good source of local advice and great deals for small - medium size groups planning an Ireland golf tour.

Either way, due to Ireland's moderate climate most courses, particularly links courses, are open all year. Courses are in best condition and weather is most suitable for golfing from April to October.


Portugal is an important golf destination on the European Mainland.

In this domain Praia d’el Rey Golf & Beach Resort [3] is reputed to be one of Portugal’s finest. Designed by Cabell Robinson, it is a championship course that boasts marvelous fairways and perfectly manicured greens. Even the bunkers are pro-active: left to their own devices, sunbathers tend to stretch out in them, risking the wrath of Caddie Master, Jim Lambert.

Roughs are made rougher by the presence of a sponge-like grass that insidiously attempts to digest anything that lands in it. Jim advises taking the strokes rather than adding up two-digit scores.

From Number 12 through 15, play is overlooking the Atlantic: sometimes windy, always stunning. The last three holes are all uphill to the 18th green and the way is not without potential disaster. A gap to the 16th green is narrow, requiring painstaking accuracy. Further challenge is added by Number 17, a 523-metre hole that is one of the longest Par 5s in Portugal; 17 is regarded as the most difficult hole on the course.


Spain is the major golf destination on the European mainland. Until 2018, when France will host the Ryder Cup, it will remain the only country in continental Europe, as well as the only non-English-speaking country, to have hosted that event.

Courses in Spain include

  • Valderrama Golf Club (in Sotogrande) – site of the 1997 Ryder Cup, the first ever held in Continental Europe.


Wales like the other British Isles countries has a long golf history. It has approximately 150 golf clubs.

Wales has often been one of the earlier adopters of innovations in the game. Wales was the third country to start organising golf on a National Level, and indeed in 2007 both Men's and Ladies' golf came under the same organisational umbrella. The Stableford Scoring System, used by most amateur club golfers also originated in Wales.

Wales has produced two Ryder Cup winning captains, Dai Rees and Ian Woosnam. Wales hosted the competition in 2010, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

Despite the prestigious golfing heritage, Wales' courses remain relatively undiscovered by international visitors. This however has its advantages, since it offers the visitor high quality courses, at prices generally lower than elsewhere in Western Europe, and crowding on Welsh fairways is thankfully rare. Wales is growing in popularity as a golfing destination, and the 2010 Ryder Cup is expected to generate further international interest.

The Welsh Assembly's official golf tourism website [4] gives details of all courses in Wales.

The more prestigious Courses in Wales include.

  • Aberdovey (Gwynedd) - Links course adjacent to the village of Aberdyfi
  • Conwy- A Venue for 2006 Final Qualifying for the Open.
  • Nefyn & District, Lleyn- offers arguably the some of the most spectacular holes in world golf.
  • Machynys Peninsula, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire- Wales's only Nicklaus Designed Course.
  • Royal Porthcawl, Porthcawl- Venue for the 1995 Walker Cup and 2014 Senior Open.
  • Royal St David's, Harlech- Links course overlooked by the famouse Harlech Castle
  • The Wales National, Vale Hotel, Golf & Spa Resort, Hensol, Pontyclun
  • The Twenty Ten, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport- Venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup


The sport is popular in Denmark. There are more than 150 Danish golf courses to chose from and there are 150.000 or so affiliated Danish club members. The most popular Courses in Denmark include:

  • Scandinavian (Old) RTJ2's lead architect Bruce charlton was entrusted with the job of laying out of fairways at the 36 Scandinavian Golf club.
  • Lubker (Sand and sky) -it's a popular golf complex and the central piece of a 500 acre estate.
  • Holstebro (Skovbanen) - beautiful and challenging course, fresh air.
  • Esbjerg (Marbæk a 42 hole course and one of Scandianavia's best.

Big events Made in Denmark is from 2014 the title of the new Danish golf tournament on the European Tour. The European Tour consists of approx. 50 annual tournaments mainly in Europe but also in Asia, Australia and Africa. Made in Denmark brings together 156 players from around the world, including approximately 15-20 Danish European Tour players as well as wildcards. The number of participating countries is about 35 and the tournament is counting towards the Race to Dubai Ranking and the World Golf Ranking. There are of course opportunities for golf, when on holiday in every region. For example in Jammerbugten there are courses situated in beautiful, natural settings in Blokhus, Øland Golf Club, Aabybro and Jammerbugten Golf Club.


South Africa[edit]



See Golf in China


Thailand has about 200 golf courses where more than 100 of them are met international standards. Some of them are even recognized international for outstanding quality and standards.

Nearly 50% of all golf courses are found in and around the city of Bangkok, all reachable within 2-3 hours drive from Bangkok. Generally, courses in Bangkok are highly utilize and cost more than those courses that are further away with the exception of courses in Phuket. As such, golfers without pre-booking are more likely to get tee-off times for courses further away from Bangkok, even during weekdays.

Famous golf courses and more information:

  • Alpine Golf & Sports Club This venue located in the province of Pathum Thani, is usually for members only and is rated to be one of the most challenging courses in Thailand. They have hosted many international competitions including the prestigious Johnny Walker Classic and the 13th Asian Games.
  • Thai Country Club Not only is this course one of the finest in Thailand but also one of the best in Asia. It has been voted Thailand’s Best Golf Course 2001-2007 and Best Golf House in Asia 2000-2007. They have been host to many major competitions such as the Johnny Walker Super Tour, Asia Honda Classic and Volvo Masters Asia.

more Golf in Thailand




See Golf in Australia

New Zealand[edit]

There are over 400 registered New Zealand golf courses from local clubs to internationally renowned golf resorts. These include;

  • Carrington Club - Northland. Oceanside location but plays like an inland golf course complete with rolling hills, vales and natural water hazards.
  • Kauri Cliffs - Northland. Designed by David Harman, the course is stunningly situated overlooking the Cavalli Islands on 4000 acres of rolling coastal farmland.
  • Gulf Harbour Country Club - Auckland. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. this oceanfront course was the scene of the 1998 World Cup of Golf.
  • Formosa Auckland Country Club - Auckland. Situated on the beautiful Pohutukawa Coast and designed by Sir Bob Charles the course was modelled on the Augusta National Golf Course home of the US Masters.
  • Wairakei International Golf Course - Taupo. Rated by US Golf Digest to be in the Top 20 courses in the world outside the USA.
  • Cape Kidnappers - Hawkes Bay. Tom Doak designed, on a special site with links to New Zealand’s important Maori culture.
  • Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course - Wellington. A true links test with the best in design, shot making and world class greens. It has been the scene of the NZ Open on ten occasions.
  • Clearwater Resort - Christchurch. The home of the NZPGA championship and was designed by John Darby and Sir Bob Charles.
  • Terrace Downs - Canterbury. Close to high country sheep farms and in amongst the Southern Alps.
  • Millbrook Resort - Queenstown. Designed by NZ’s golfing great Sir Bob Charles and set amongst exquisite mountain scenery.

North America[edit]


Mountains, oceans and Arctic tundra form the backdrop to challenging fairways and immaculate greens. Celebrated names like Nicklaus, Thompson, Robinson, Furber and Whitman loom large on world-class courses. Play all night under the warm glow of the midnight sun in the Far North. Or putt your way around beautiful Prince Edward Island in full view of the sparkling Atlantic. In Canada, spectacular golfing is just par for the course.

United States of America[edit]

The United States is a major golf destination, it has more golf courses than any other country, (approximately 10,000 Golf Courses).

The United States also has a surprisingly long golfing tradition. The formation of the United States Golf Association in 1894 was pre-dated only that of by Ireland's Golf Union. Indeed the United States Golf Association, as well as acting as National Golf Association for the United States, is one of the worldwide game's co-governing bodies.

The United States has for many years produced many of the world's best golfers, and remains a golf superpower, despite recent Ryder Cup defeats to the Europeans. The USA hosts the event in years divisible by 4; the next Ryder Cup to be held in the U.S. will be in 2016 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in suburban Minneapolis.

Two other major team events are alternately hosted by the U.S. The Solheim Cup is the women's equivalent to the Ryder Cup, featuring teams from the U.S. and Europe. The Presidents Cup is a men's event that features a U.S. team facing an "International" team made up of golfers ineligible for the Ryder Cup. Both events are held in odd-numbered years, and the U.S. hosts both in the year after it hosts the Ryder Cup, meaning that the next editions of both competitions in the U.S. will be in 2013. The next Solheim Cup in the U.S. will be held at Colorado Golf Club in the Denver suburb of Parker, Colorado, and the next Presidents Cup in the U.S. will be held at Muirfield Village in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, Ohio.

Three of the four major golf tournaments for men, three of the five major tournaments for women, and four of the five major tournaments for men 50 and over, are played in the United States. Some of the most famous, and best, courses can be found there.

Florida is an important national and international golf destination. At the other extreme Alaska offers the possibility of late night golf during the summer.


Somewhat surprisingly, challenging courses and major tournaments are hosted in the Caribbean. Some of the main courses include:

  • Temenos Golf Club, Anguilla - Opened by Cap Juluca in 2009, this 18 hole course includes challenging holes and breathtaking views.
  • Half Moon, Jamaica- Caribbean World Magazine named this course the "Best Caribbean Golf Resort". The course is appropriate for both novice and advanced golfers. Half Moon is also home to David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

South America[edit]


See Golf in Argentina for further details.

Golf is an increasingly popular sport in Argentina, thanks in part to the success of Argentinian players such as Angel Cabrera, Andres Romero and Eduardo Romero. There are currently around 280 courses in the country, most located around Buenos Aires and including such well-known names as the Jockey Club, Olivos and Hurlingham. On the Atlantic coast in Mar del Plata are a couple of courses that have held international events, and Patagonia has excellent resort courses such as Llao Lloa, Arelauquen and Chapelco (a Nicklaus design) as well as the 9-hole course in Ushaia.

Buy[edit][add listing]

At larger and more popular courses, the on-course Pro Shop will normally be able to supply all the necessary accessories.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Many golf courses have a Clubhouse that serves meals. Some provide a full service restaurant.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Most Clubhouses have a bar; such establishments are colloquially known as the 19th hole.

Stay safe[edit]

Golf is the sort of game that can be played in all sorts of weather conditions, especially if one wants a challenging game. However, lightning and severe storms are contraindications for safe play.

Consider golf insurance. This will pay out in the event of a hole-in-one, or if you injure other golfers.


If you use a caddies (and in many places you have no choice), you may be expected to tip them. In other places tipping is not permitted. You should ask when you book your round what the expected tip is.

Get out[edit]

Once you have finished playing be sure to clean your equipment. If you are crossing borders with your gear be sure to declare it, particularly where countries have bio-security controls to limit the importation of equipment that has been in contact with farmland and the like. Otherwise you might find you are delayed while the equipment is cleaned, or worse, confiscated.

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