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From heaven to hell: Fond memories, new tragedy at Abaco

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Last year, I got a call from the public relations people for Southworth Development about taking a trip to visit the Abaco Club in the Bahamas. I had heard about the Abaco Club as a retreat for the elite and one of the most popular stops on the Korn Fery Tour. Golf superstars like Darren Clarke and Nick Price had residences there along with other celebrities from the sports and entertainment worlds.

The beach at the Abaco Club

Abaco exceeded my expectations. The location was as beautiful as any in the world, with white warm tropic breezes and sandy beaches on a secluded bay. The water is a surreal kind of blue; actually, it’s a series of blues that range from turquoise to a deep royal blue.

Staff at Abaco Club

The only thing more sparkling that the water and the sunshine were the smiles of the people. From the time that you arrive the warmth and hospitality of the staff at Abaco surrounds you. It’s not the kind of hospitality that you learn from a class or an employee manual. It’s a more honest and genuine variety that comes from a culture of courtesy and welcoming others into your world.

Abaco Club owner David Southworth

I made some great friends on and on the golf course in Abaco. David Southworth, who along with business partner Joe Deitch form the ownership group of the Abaco Club, is one of those people who has a kind of easy charm and grace. When he talks about Abaco, he deflects credit from himself and shives the spotlight on his staff and support team. “These are the people that make it possible,” I remember Southworth saying again and again.

Abaco Golf Course

We had an opportunity to play the golf course there, one of the most fun tracks I had ever played. Most of the writers on my trip were travel writers and bloggers who didn’t play golf so my group all three days included Southworth Director of Marketing David De Smith, golf videographer Dave Lockhart and Instagram model Katie Kearney, who had just started working in the golf world. The staff made sure that we had everything that we needed including a new Abaco shirt every day. At one point, Katie and I were thinking it would nice to have a cocktail on the course. A quick call from De Smith and a cart arrived with a shipment of tropical goodness.

We were invited to the home of European Tour pro Thomas Aiken to talk about his career and his connection to Abaco. When we arrived, Nick Price was downstairs in the hot tub; we decided to just stick with Thomas. He talked about coming to Abaco for the first time and knowing that he wanted to make it a part of his life. I did meet Price the next day on the range; we had met several times before and he is generally a very relaxed fellow, but I honestly didn’t remember seeing him as relaxed as he was at Abaco.

Nick Price and Thomas Aiken

I had a chance to go snorkeling, and to see parts of the village where the local folk lived. We saw charming little shops with locally made crafts and restaurants serving delicious conch fritters next to the beach where the ingredients had been harvested.

All of it is gone now. All of it.

Marsh Harbour

Ever since my visit to Abaco I have pointing people in that direction, encouraging everyone to go there and experience the place and the people. As Hurricane Dorian was bearing down on Abaco, I texted David De Smith to see how it looked. He spoke of catastrophic damage and already seeing bodies. And as the days go by, the damage and death toll are continuing to rise.

The storm turned heaven on Earth into hell on Earth. As of this writing, the death toll stands at 50 but is certain to go higher. Over 70,000 people have been left homeless and are seeking assistance and refuge. With people leaving the island on anything that will fly or float, Grand Bahama will be a ghost island in very short order, with only relief workers remaining behind to pick through the rubble.

When describing Abaco, I would often say that it was one of those magical places that brings out the best in you. The beauty of the place, of the people, of the experience; they combined to extract from the guest the calm and contentedness that isn’t possible in most of the workaday world. Abaco gave me memories for a lifetime. Now, in their time of need, many have been compelled to act. A slew of PGA professionals have posted on social media expressing the need for help. The ubiquitous Josè Andres is already on the island providing meals.

Abaco After Hurricane Dorian

Both Joe Deitch and David Southworth have pledged that the Abaco Club will host its Korn Ferry Tour event in January 2020 as planned. Aid is beginning to flow and people all over the world are pledging their support in the short term and the long term. More is needed now and will be for.a very long time. Eventually, the spirit of the Bahamian people will prevail, and Abaco will rise again. For now, I will give what I can in time and money as I pray nightly for the living and the dead of Abaco.

To give, go to www.theabacoclub.com and click on the link for the GoFundMe page there. Southworth Chairman Joe Deitch has committed to match the first $1 million in donations.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Thomas

    Sep 12, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Abaco shills on the prowl. Brutally honest “negativity” trumps lollypops and unicorns all day every day. Don’t blame us and lash out like spoiled children for your failure to respect the power of nature.

  2. Not James the 3rd

    Sep 12, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Couldnt agree with Not James anymore. Its sad that some people choose to live their lives with such negative mindsets specially towards others. If only they were taught how to ask better questions… I was affected by hurricane Dorian though only a cat 2 when it passed us. Its just a trade off for living in such a cool location and its really cool to see people come together when things like this pass.

    Im sure the Abaco Club will rebuild and be stronger/better than ever.

  3. James

    Sep 12, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Why is it that rich idiots think they’re bigger than Mother Nature? Did they honestly think that a hurricane would never touch this place?

    • Not James

      Sep 12, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      Most rich people are not idiots and I doubt that any of them believe that they are bigger than Mother Nature. It’s terribly sad what happened to this place (and the surrounding areas). The good news, is that those same “Rich Idiots” will help rebuild this place- what’s your contribution? Maybe instead of spending your time being an angry keyboard warrior you could use some of that whit to make some money for yourself so you don’t have to take it out on the world.

      • James

        Sep 12, 2019 at 3:48 pm

        Nice unhinged libtard trust fund snowflake projection! Well said. Regardless, they honestly thought that a hurricane would never touch this place. Hence the complacency. Hence the lack of hurricane shelters. One is a total idiot to build such a non-hurricane proof destination in a region that gets wiped out by a hurricane every 10-20 years. Overpaid idiot golf pros (because they don’t know anything else besides hitting a little ball) asking others to help? That’s rich! A handful of them could entirely pay to rebuild, if it’s so important to them. They just want to be seen as pretending to care or get bailed out for their straw hut arrogance.

      • L. Schwartzman

        Sep 13, 2019 at 9:59 am

        The Abacos have been settled and prosperous for 300 years (or longer). This storm is the worst thing to happen to any of The Bahama islands EVER in recorded history. Granted, it could have happened before… BUT, to have a Cat. 5 storm sit over your island for 3 days, is just excruciatingly awful. No place could survive such devastation and we will probably never have an accurate approximation of the actual loss of life. When hurricane Harvey sat over Texas for 3 days, no one suggested that everybody should leave Texas and not rebuild. This will take a enormous amount of time, but when they do rebuild, it should be done with these much stronger storms in mind. No more frame housing allowed, only concrete construction. In the Keys, there are even houses with concrete roofs. What a great idea. It would cost a lot more, but, it could withstand a storm and need minimal rebuilding. The infrastructure should definitely be rebuilt this way, and, if you are going to invest and rebuild in any of these islands, this should be the answer. I genuinely feel so sad for the people of Grand Bahama and The Abacos, but, eventually, it will come back (with lots of monetary help).

    • Also Not James

      Sep 12, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      Good lord. James is on another level of stupid. You realize the island of Bahama aren’t just a collection of rich idiots, right? Of course you don’t, because you’re the idiot. Just look at the picture in this article for Christ’s sake. It’s middle/lower income housing all leveled to rubble. Not gigantic beach side mansions. Just think of all the jobs that the Abaco Club provides for locals. All of those people are now without work. Thank you for the article, Michael. More attention needs to be brought to the people of the Bahamas.

    • Not James IV

      Sep 12, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      No one plans for a category 5 hurricane to settle down over your home/business for 72 hours straight, James. Matter of fact, I believe a Cat 5 hurricane has hit landfall only one other time in recorded history (1920s/30s). This is exactly why “rich idiots” have all sorts of expensive insurance policies. I’m sure their resort will be re-built with insurance dollars. They’re simply looking to be charitable for the surrounding community.

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Vegas, baby: A first look at the new Wynn Golf Course

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Last week, golf returned to the Las Vegas Strip as the Wynn Golf Course made its debut. In fact, it was a grand re-opening of a course that had hosted top pros and celebrities for years before closing in 2017, with the land earmarked for development. Other land was found, and now the track is back and better than ever.

Tom Fazio was chosen as the architect for the re-imaging of the course. It now plays as a par-70 with three par 3s and two par 5s on each nine (that’s two Full Houses, if you are a poker type) and a total yardage that stretches from 4,810 to 6,722 with a choice of four tees. The course plays a lot longer than the number, so wisdom dictates that you choose one tee box forward if you want to score.

Those that have played the old design will see that the changes begin on the first hole, which has been rerouted from its original design to dogleg right instead of left. All told, there are eight brand new holes and ten that have been re-worked. Highlights include a 486-yard par 4 (no. 16) and a par 5 (no. 11) that tops out at nearly 600 yards. The signature 18th hole has been transformed from a par 4 to a par 3, which can be stretched to 249 yards, culminating on a green framed by a 35-foot-tall by 100-foot-wide waterfall for a truly Las Vegas-style finish.

More than 400,000 cubic yards of earth and 300 trees were relocated to accommodate wider landing areas, contours, and elevation changes to fairways throughout, as well as bunker alterations that make for easier access and egress. Each hole received an approximate 300-square-foot green expansion as well as a redesign and recontour to create new hole locations, while resort golfers will appreciate that green surrounds were made more receptive with the addition of collection areas shaped to feed balls toward putting surfaces instead of away from them. That’ll also get you around the course and back to the tables in a reasonable amount of time.

#18 at Wynn Golf Course

Visually, the course is a knockout. As you would expect for opening day, the conditions were immaculate, but the management is committed to daily perfection. There is a kind of surreal feeling as you play in a combination of lush greenery while you use the Wynn Tower and other landmarks as your aimpoint on the horizon. Full disclosure; I love Fazio designs and this one was the man at his best. Generous fairways to get the hole started, and approaches that are challenging without being absurdly difficult.

“We are so excited about the return of the Wynn Golf Club,” said Fazio. “The quality of the Wynn golf experience matches the ultra-high level that everyone expects from a Wynn resort. The playability of the course is second to none and the challenge of play for all golfers is exceptional.”

Fazio is right; as a hotel, the Wynn is, like, a 7-star experience, and they did their best to extend that to the golf course. You’ll find a top-notch caddie program featuring several PGA members, new on-course culinary program, lithium-powered golf carts (with lights and a horn!), expansive pro shop, and a luxury clubhouse.

The Wynn Golf experience does not come cheap; green fees are $550 in-season not including caddy. But in the context of a city where you can lose $600 in less time than it takes to say, “Six hundred dollars,” it might be the best value proposition that many visitors get during their stay. And by the way, if you ace 18, you win $25,000.

Golfers with a room reservation at Wynn Las Vegas or Encore can secure tee times 90 days in advance. Non-resort guests can reserve tee times 30 days in advance.

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Loose Leaf Notebook: 10 places for great fall golf

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I love fall golf; in fact, it’s by far my favorite season to play. Spring is great with the flowers and blessed relief from Ol’ Man Winter, but it also features muddy fairways and ambitious mosquitos. Give me sweater weather and leaves turning anytime. No humidity, no problem. Also, many of the best courses drop their rates for the rest of the year, and the only thing as good as saving a couple of stokes on your round is to save a lot of cash.

While in parts of the Northeast the summer is doing its impression of a friend who won’t leave your house party even though they see you loading the dishwasher at 3 a.m., Fall golf is right around the corner, so here’s a list of 10 places that will make you feel like Mr. (or Ms.) October.

The Greenbrier

The Greenbrier Hotel and Resort

The Meadows

Resurrected from the scrap heap by billionaire and current Governor of West Virginia Jim Justice, The Greenbrier has become one of the most popular destinations on the PGA Tour calendar among the players that attend. The hotel has been beautifully restored, and the sprawling mansion-style structure is an attraction in itself. Great restaurant options at the Greenbrier include a steakhouse named after NBA legend Jerry West, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see him there. The TPC Old White Course is the best known of the four courses available to the public, but The Meadows is the local favorite and more picturesque. That thing I mentioned about cheaper fall golf does not apply here; the courses are kind of pricey in October. But you can make it up at the on-property casino that is reserved for guests only, and therefore 80 percent less skeevy than most casinos.

The Omni Homestead

The Omni Homestead

The Cascades Course

If it was good enough for Thomas Jefferson, it’s good enough for me; yes, T.J. was one of the first patrons of this hot springs resort located on the other side of the mountain from The Greenbrier. It’s dripping with history, and the acquisition by the Omni hotel group has made sure that antique and modern peacefully co-exist. The golf is superb, led by the Cascades course where Sam Snead caddied as a young man. Follow that with a round on the Old Course. If you need a tune-up, visit their golf school where you just might get a lesson from J.C. Snead. After walking the courses, visit the hot springs for a soak and a massage. And when you want to get your adrenaline going again, visit master instructor David Judah at the award-winning shooting range.

Primland

Primland Highlands course

Observatory suite at Primland

One of the best things about Primland is that it’s under the radar. Ok, close your eyes imagine that a James Bond villain decided to build a kick-ass golf resort complete with a missile silo disguised to look like…a silo? That’s Primland. Tucked in the Blue Ridge mountains just over the North Carolina border, Primland is truly next level in every category that you could rate a modern resort. The rooms are the apex of comfort and high tech, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Jay Hass and Fred Couples are staff pros and they spend a lot of time there so keep a sharpie and cell phone handy for an autograph and a selfie.

The property was originally purchased as a nature preserve, and you can enjoy the gorgeous landscape on foot or on one of the off-road vehicle tours. If you like sporting clays, they have a great facility where you can blast some plates. The Highland golf course is a pristine Donald Steel layout that is an excellent combination of risk and reward combined with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. If you have some disposable income and are looking for a unique experience, book the Observatory suite. You won’t be sorry.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Grand Strand

Caledonia Golf And Fish Club

I know; saying that you should visit Myrtle Beach is like saying you should listen to some jazz; there’s a lot of it and it’s all very different. That said, autumn is kind of the perfect time to visit Myrtle. It’s after Labor Day so the crowds are gone. Rooms and tee times are easier to get and for better prices. Not to mention that the summer heat is replaced by some cool ocean breezes. There are literally dozens of golf courses to choose from, too many to mention here, so I’ll just recommend that if you haven’t had a chance to play Caledonia and True Blue, make it a priority. The courses are the work of Mike Stranz, a genius who died young and left a small but stunning body of work that begs the question, “What if?”. Off the course, you can find restaurants up and down the Strand that range from gourmet to Krispy Kreme. Challenge yourself to find a bar that no one had heard of.

Bethpage State Park

Bethpage Black

I started my golf life operating golf courses in national parks, so I have always had a soft spot for Bethpage. I watched with envy as a public/private partnership turned a frog into a prince. The Black course gets most of the ink and deservedly so; it is one of the difficult courses in the world, but it is also one of the most ingenious. Every hole is interesting, many of them memorable. You can’t help but think about the major championships that have been played on the ground under your feet as you make your way around the course. Caution; it is also a very difficult course to walk and they don’t allow carts. But even the out of state rate is a bargain at $135 on weekdays and the Red course is almost as good and easier to walk and afford. Save plenty of time to have a beer and a dog on the terrace at the back of the clubhouse to enjoy the changing colors of the trees and the equally red faces of golfers coming up #18 on the Black.

Silvies Valley Ranch

Silvies Valley Ranch

Not all of the great fall golf is on the East Coast, and Silvies Valley Ranch is proof of that. In just a few short years of operation, Silvies has gone from zero to Top 100 among golf destinations. With a reversible 18-hole track (known as Craddock in one direction and Hankins in the other) and two fun short courses, Silvies offers a satisfying golf lineup. And where else are you gonna find goat caddies?  But SVR also offers fishing, off-road driving, shooting, biking and a brand-new state of the art spa facility. Set on a huge ranch next to a national forest, the colors are beautiful during the day and the stars are just as beautiful at night. Bring an appetite, because the family-style meals are super large and super delicious.

Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge

Top of the Rock

The brainchild of Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, Big Cedar Lodge is positioning itself to be the number one golf destination in the country; you read right, number one. Morris gave his team an unlimited budget and they have exceeded it in creating a family vacation fantasyland. The golf courses now include tracks by Fazio, Coore-Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and in 2020 Tiger Woods. You can stay in individual rooms or multi-bedroom cabins, with a ridiculous variety of places to eat and play when you aren’t golfing. Heck, the man built his own state pate and his own natural history museum…’nuff said. If you are the romantic type, stop by the chapel where my friend/arch-nemesis Matt Ginella got married.

Williamsburg, VA

Colonial Williamsburg

Golden Horseshoe Golf course

If history is your thing, Williamsburg is your place. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, bringing to life America’s colonial past. But the golf is mighty good as well. Golfers can choose to partake of the Golden Horseshoe Golf course, a gorgeous Robert Trent Jones course that was recently renovated under the supervision of his son Rees. The course is in immaculate condition and gives you a look at holes that are reminiscent of the work that RTJ did on the back nine at Augusta. On the other side of the city, Kingsmill Resort offers a championship River course that is among the toughest tests on the LPGA Tour. Play a bunch of golf, but do tour the historic part of the city.

Reynolds Lake Oconee

Ritz-Carlton at RLO

Reynolds Lake Oconee

Built on the shores of a massive man-made lake halfway between Atlanta and Augusta in Georgia, Reynolds Lake Oconee is blessed with a beautiful natural setting where almost anything would be a pleasure. Fortunately, golf has been a big part of the plan form the start at RLO. The resort offers comfortable cabins and houses for rent but live a little and stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on the property. Before you go out to play, stop by the Reynolds Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade, an equipment and practice mecca where you could find guys like Justin Rose or Jason Day tweaking their driver or working on their swing in the bay next to you.

There are six championship courses at RLO, led by the freshly renovated Great Waters, a Jack Nicklaus signature track that is one of his most enjoyable. Fazio, Rees Jones, and Bob Cupp have bylines at RLO as well and all of them are in superb condition. If you know somebody who knows somebody, you can get on the ultra-private Creek Club. Boating, hiking, biking and one of the best sporting clay facilities in the world highlight the outdoor activities.

Traverse City/Petoskey Area, Michigan

Bay Harbor Club

Forest Dunes

People on the coasts are beginning to discover what Midwesterners have known for years, that life is good on the shores of Lake Michigan. With miles of shoreline and acres of pristine forests, The Traverse City area is one of the most popular summer destinations in the country for residents of Midwestern cities. And the golf is none too shabby, with some of the top-rated courses in the county within a short drive of the local airport. My favorites include Boyne golf’s Bay Harbor Club, which features three nine-hole courses that can be fashioned into an 18-hole round (all their options are good, but the Links/Quarry combo is exceptional).

A short drive away is Forest Dunes, where you can stay and play the Forest Dunes 18 and the much talked about Loop, reversible 18 that will challenge the limits of your short game prowess—or lack of the same. While you’re in the area, stop by Belvedere Golf Club and enjoy a classic golf course that has tested players from Walter Hagan to Tom Watson (who called the par-4 16thone of the best holes in the world). Off the course, craft breweries and cherry pies will keep you happy or take a walk by the lake and try to find a Petoskey Stone.

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8 of Europe’s best golf courses

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With so many stunning golf courses throughout Europe, it can be difficult to know which ones are worth visiting. After all, each course can vary enormously in terms of the playing conditions and surfaces that you will come up against.

It can be difficult to know whether should stay at home or venture further afield when it comes to playing golf. But, we’re here to make those decisions easier for you. From the world-renowned PGA Catalunya, to the ‘home of golf’ in St Andrews, here is a definitive list of where we think the eight best golf courses in Europe are.

Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus

If you’re looking for a golf course with a view, then look no further than the Aphrodite Hills Golf Club in Cyprus. This 18-hole course boasts gorgeous views all the way across the Mediterranean, and is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best places to play golf. 

The course, designed by world-renowned designer Cabell B. Robinson, winds its way through indigenous trees and features an abundance of rolling terrain and strategically placed hazards. Regardless of how well or badly you play here, one thing’s for sure – your experience will be a truly memorable one. 

Cyprus is also an incredible destination to visit, featuring a plethora of beautiful sandy beaches and clean waters. It may be slightly more expensive to travel to than some of the other courses on this list, but it’ll definitely be worth the extra expense when you get there. 

Valderrama, Spain

One of Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s greatest designs, Spain’s Real Club Valderrama is a world-famous European Tour venue that has played host to both the Andalucía Valderrama Masters and the Ryder Cup. 

A challenging course all the way through, the 17th hole, in particular, stands out amongst the rest, where the green slopes towards a stunning emerald lake with bunkers strategically placed behind. This means that anyone who misses the green will face one of the most testing shots in golf.

Located only 25 km away from Gibraltar International Airport, the course keeps your transport costs at a minimum and is a fantastic area to visit for scenic landscapes, hiking trails and its close proximity to the coast.

Morfontaine, France

A French gem designed by a British architect; you would be forgiven for thinking that Morfontaine was an English golf course. Featuring windswept pines and clumps of heather atop a base of sand, the course is one of the best you will find in the world, let alone France. 

Beautifully situated in the Forêt d’Ermenonville, one of the three great woods in the north of Paris, the natural and excellently maintained golf course is a must-visit for any golfer. Its par-3 holes, in particular, are regarded as some of the best in the world. 

Plus, since it’s located near the French capital, the course is a must-visit during any trips to Paris. Instead of flying, why not think about catching the Eurostar to keep your transport costs down. 

PGA Catalunya, Spain

Spain’s number one golf course, the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya is both striking and beautiful. It is a course designed to catch golfers out, with trees, bunkers and lakes all utilized strategically to make the course as challenging as possible. 

However, this challenge may not resonate too obviously, as its incredible surroundings tend to distract golfers from their game. Located only an hour or so away from Barcelona, visiting here can also offer value for money since the Catalonian capital has a plethora of things to see and do.

Ballybunion, Republic of Ireland

Originally designed in 1906 by Lionel Hewson before being refined in 1936 by Tom Simpson, Ireland’s Ballybunion course is an absolute seaside masterpiece – the 11th hole, in particular, stands out amongst the rest. 

A reported favorite of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the course’s inconvenient location is the only thing that keeps it from being used more widely in tournaments. It did, however, host the Irish Open at the turn of the century, and is relatively easy to get to from Shannon airport.

Royal Dornoch, Scotland

Regarded as the most natural golf course in the world, the Royal Dornoch golf course in Scotland is known for being a ton of fun and easily one of the best in Europe. Designed by renowned architect Old Tom Morris back in 1886, the Par 70 course may be often overlooked for tournaments due to its relative inaccessibility but, to this day, it remains one of Scotland’s most stellar courses. 

One of the main challenges it provides golfers with is dealing with Scotland’s tricky Dornoch winds. A number of its greens are also elevated, presenting golfers with a true test as to how to navigate them effectively. 

One of the trickier places to get to, the course is located a short drive away from Tain train station or just over an hour away from Inverness airport.

Royal County Down, Northern Ireland

Play this course on a clear spring day, and there is simply no greater place to play golf. With Dundrum Bay to the east and the Mountains of Mourne to the South, Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down course is up there with the best in the world. 

Originally designed by Old Tom Morris, the course has been carefully refined over the past century and now features surprisingly flat greens. However, don’t think this makes the course any easier – its rugged terrain, many blind shots and bunkers surrounded by marram grass and dense heather more than compensate for the ‘easier’ greens.

Another of the fiddlier courses to visit, Royal County Down is an hour’s drive away from Belfast International Airport, which is often fairly cheap to fly to from various UK cities

The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland

Often regarded as the home of golf, The Old Course at St. Andrews is one of, if not the, best golf course in the world – let alone Europe. Having hosted The Open Championship a record 29 times, the course has been home to golfers since the 15th century. 

It is truly unique and unlike any other golf course you’ll come across. This is because no single hand has carved the masterpiece – it is completely natural, featuring rolling greens, cavernous bunkers, blind shots and a brilliant course layout. In fact, many other golf courses have been built to imitate its design, so it really sets the standard for quality, originality, and authenticity. 

It’s also relatively cheap to get to and offers fantastic value for money when you get there. Handily located near the major Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the town of St Andrews is also an incredibly stunning place to visit, featuring a 13th-century castle and an even older cathedral. 

It tops our list not only for its quality golf course, but the abundance of things you can do in its surrounding area. It’s truly a must-visit for any golf fan.

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