On course for Europe’s finest golfing destinations

In what seems like the blink of an eye, truly great courses have sprung up in our neighbouring lands, becoming the best golfing destinations in their countries.

Here we focus on some of these tempting destinations, but just remember that going in style may require a bit of budget-bending if you go for the packages we mention below.

Oitavos Dunes

In Turkey, all the golfing action is based around Belek, near Antalya. The quality of the major courses is exceptional. The most interesting is the Carya, an inspired creation by the great Australian golfer and designer Peter Thomson.

When he saw the site he was reminded of the heathland courses near London where he had enjoyed success. With the aid of a nursery that grew hundred of thousands of heather plants, Sunningdale and Swinley Forest seem to have migrated to the Mediterranean shore.

The PGA Sultan and Pasha courses make for a terrific golfing experience. Both designed by David Jones in the late Nineties, they take you through forest, across sandy banks – and to the water. Half the holes on these courses feature a water hazard of some sort. Oh, and watch out for the pot bunkers.

The National is a stunning course, to which David Feherty has lent his name. It meanders through undulating countryside of mature pine and eucalyptus trees, the Taurus mountain range rising in the distance. The 6279m track has hosted the Turkish Seniors Open.

In Portugal, Oitavos Dunes is a magnificent course incorporating some endless sand dunes on the coast west of Lisbon – The Portuguese coast seems to have more sand than the Sahara.

Oitavos Dunes (pictured above) sits on the most westerly point of Europe, and the mighty Atlantic is a constant presence. Inland, the Sintra hills present a beautiful backdrop. Par 71 and measuring 6300m from the back tees, it’s certainly testing enough to have hosted the Portuguese Open, but is enjoyably playable for some- one with only modest golfing talents.

The course, which opened in 2001, is one of only two in Europe designed by Arthur Hills, famous for his courses in the US. But there isn’t a hint of the American “target”-style course design here, each hole has a rhythm that blends into the natural contours. A delightful mix of woodland and links holes, with well-placed hazards and fast, sometimes tricky greens with many slopes and borrows to master.

Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus, just a short drive from Paphos airport, is reputed as one of the best courses in the Mediterranean. The fairways wind through native olive and carob trees. Pot bunkers and tiered greens are a feature of the Cabell Robinson-designed course. It is famous for its spectacular ravines, which make the beat a bit faster when you stand over your tee-shot.

John Norsworthy, the Cannes-based pro who has been organising golf breaks to some very special destinations for several years, makes sure his groups have the best of everything.

“I only take small groups to make sure everyone gets all the attention they need,” says John, who runs his golf excursions in conjunction with Thomas Cook and Golf Plus Voyages.

John is on hand throughout the stay to give lessons on the driving range, and playing lessons too, without extra charge.

All the breaks listed below include flights (as well as golf bag carriage), transfers, unlimited practice balls. Prices are per person, sharing a double room; breakfast and dinner included.

CYPRUS
March 19 –26, 2014
Stay at the Aphrodite Hills five-star hotel. Five rounds at the Aphrodite Hills Golf Club, one round each at Elea Golf and Secret Valley.
€2850 (based on group of 6)
€2710 (based on group of 8)

TURKEY
May 17 – 24, 2014
Stay at the five-star Kempinski, the Dome Hotel. One round each at the Pasha, Sultan, National, Tat and Carya courses.
€2690 (based on group of 6)
€2390 (based on group of 8)

PORTUGAL
June 14 – 21, 2014
Stay at the five-star Hotel Oitavos. Five
rounds at the Oitavos Dunes course. €2450 (based on group of 6)
€2350 (based on group of 8)
For details contact John Norsworthy on 06 80 74 42 86

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