From the highest course in the world to a hole that runs the length of a collapsed Hawaiian lava tube, here are our favourite places to stay and play.
The Machrie, Islay
When the wind changes direction, The Hebridean island of Islay smells like whisky. Dotted with nine distilleries, the island’s climate makes it prime peat territory, as well as an ideal ground for links courses – the finest of which is found at The Machrie Hotel. Created in 1891 – and redesigned in 2018 – its championship golf course is considered one of the best in Europe, and the hotel itself follows suit. Comprising 47 rooms, suites and lodges, its snow-coloured walls rise majestically from the rugged dunes and lord over seven miles of sand-swept beach. Inside, clean-lined, modern interiors are accented with a tasteful amount of golf memorabilia, and the hotel's Hebridean heritage is subtly referenced through touches of tartan and a huge, antler-shaped chandelier.
Ask for: a whisky tasting in the nearby Bunnahabhain distillery, where you’ll sample four drams whilst surrounded by ageing casks.
Credit: Hudson Architects
The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews
Despite some claims from the Netherlands, it is generally accepted that golf was invented in Scotland, with 'gowf' first recorded in 1457, when an edict from King James II listed it as a distraction from archery for military purposes. For those wanting to experience true golfing history, the Old Course Hotel offers rooms overlooking the famous 17th hole at St Andrews, reputedly the most difficult par 4 in the world and the star of Ryder Cup and British Open events.
Ask for: The Old Course Suites, directly above the world-famous 17th hole.
Credit: The Old Course Hotel
Adare Manor, County Limerick
After its recent reconstruction by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio, the course at Adare Manor now ranks amongst the best in the world. Designed to accentuate the 840 acres of lush, rolling landscape and sweeping banks of the River Maguire, the course was voted the country's best at the 2021 World Golf Awards. And the hotel itself, a classic 5-star luxury country manor house, was voted Ireland's favourite hotel by the Irish Independent.
Ask for: a hydrating facial massage at the new 111SKIN spa; the brand's first Irish outpost.
Credit: Adere Manor
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii
The US boasts countless iconic golf courses – but for something truly unique, this par 72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Course offers a challenging 'lavascape', weaving through the black volcanic rock that forms this dramatic coastline. Most spectacular is the famous 7th hole, where you tee off from the highest point on the course, playing down towards the ocean through a collapsed lava tube.
Ask for: The Hawaii Loa Presidential Suite, a majestic two-storey villa set on the oceanfront, with indoor and outdoor dining spaces: the resort's most prestigious accommodation. You might even spot Humpback whales during their seasonal migration.
Credit: Four Seasons
Hotel Camiral, PGA Catalunya
With two par 72 courses designed by Ryder Cup star Neil Coles MBE and former Spanish Open winner Angel Gallardo, the 5-star Hotel Camiral is the choice destination for golf enthusiasts in Spain. Its Stadium Course has been ranked the country's best for six consecutive years, while its wellness packages are also hugely recommended. Set within the stunning Catalan countryside, gourmands will also want to explore nearby Girona, with its wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Ask for: a glass of wine from the hotel's own organic vineyard at their 1477 restaurant.
Credit: PGA Catalunya
The Grove, Hertfordshire
Once the chosen resort for the England football squad before their home games at Wembley, The Grove is set within 300 acres of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, the restored former home of the Earls of Clarendon. Its golf course is one of the most prestigious in England, having hosted the British Masters in 2016 as well as a 2006 World Golf Championship event, won by Tiger Woods.
Ask for: one of the hosts of outdoor activities, including the Bear Grylls survival camp, laser clay pigeon shooting, woodland hawking, tree climbing, archery and a first-class football coaching course with UEFA-level coaches.
Credit: Hotel Designs
The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg
For an experience unlike any other, how about a round at the world's highest 18-hole golf course – just a ten-minute walk (and a ride on the famous Gondola ski lift) from Gulmarg's first 5-star luxury hotel – situated at an elevation of 8,825ft. This is truly playing in the clouds with stunning views over the Pir Panjal range and the snowcapped Affarwat peaks of the Himalayas.
Ask for: a picnic to take with you for a trek through the valleys of this Kashmiri hill station. You can also enjoy some of Asia's finest ski slopes in winter.
Credit: Khybe Hotels
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