As golfers expand their international travel interests and their desire for more of a challenge, new destinations are emerging as rising stars with exotic and unique appeal. Among those destinations are South Africa, New Zealand, Iceland, Liverpool and Dubai.
safaris, winetasting and golf oh my!
South Africa is home to over 500 golf courses and the PGA South African Open. Among the top courses is Leopard Creek, ranked #1 and located at the edge of Krueger National Park. Fancourt is a very popular links style course, while Blair Atholl is one of the longest courses in the world. Durban Golf Club has been host to 16 PGA South African Opens, and Arabella is a wetlands course and home to thousands of waterfowl. This stunning continent provides a unique opportunity to customize a vacation package that includes wildlife safaris, golf, wine tasting, cultural exchanges, and even luxury rail journeys, for the trip of a lifetime. The only thing to remember when playing golf in South Africa is to keep your eye on the ball and not the roving monkeys, impala, and other wandering wildlife that can easily add strokes to your game!
The land of Hobbits, fairies and Golf!
Home to over 390 golf courses, New Zealand presents a great golf opportunity. With such renowned courses as Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs, (ranked 45 out of the top 100 courses worldwide), the views and the challenge don’t get much better than this. Other popular courses include Clearwater – home to the New Zealand PGA Championship, Gulf Harbour – located in a small peninsula community with a nearby marina, or Formosa – just 45 minutes from Auckland with an under-cover driving range and golf school. While there, try out Golf Cross, a new variation on the sport using an oval shaped ball. For those who want a well-rounded vacation, combine North Island golf with culture, exploration and soft adventure on the South Island. Experience New Zealand’s jet boats, the Flying Fox, thermal pools, glow worm caves and the richness and mystery of the Maori Culture.
Who needs to sleep? Golf at midnight
For a completely different experience, head north to Iceland. Yes, Iceland! Home to over 60 golf courses, the land of the midnight sun presents a truly unique opportunity and bragging rights for teeing off at midnight! Here a week-long golf trip will encompass steep cliffs, black sand beaches, majestic ocean views, fertile salmon rivers and lush green country sides. Iceland golf offers a combination of 9 and 18 hole courses, so this is more of a leisurely golf destination. A sample itinerary might include a day at the geothermal area of the Reykjanes Peninsula. After a round of golf at the Holmsvollur course with volcanic landscapes, indulge with a dip in the original Blue Lagoon. Gafarholt Golf Course is recognized as Iceland’s top championship course and home to several European and Nordic tournaments. Fairways are aligned with lava and heather, making use of the existing rugged and varied terrain. Visit the UNESCO “Youngest place on earth” by taking a ferry out to the Western Islands, where golfers can play a round on the only inhabited island called Heimaey, known as one of the most beautiful in the country. One of the smaller courses but still a great challenge is the 9 holes at the Geysir Golf Course. The course is L-shaped with holes routed in an out-in fashion similar to St. Andrew’s.
Swing away with the Beatles
An emerging area for Britain is Liverpool, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only birthplace to the Beatles, but Liverpool is also establishing their reputation as a place for golf, with over a dozen courses in the nearby area, including the three Open Championship venues of Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) which will host The British Open Championship in 2014. between them these Royal links have hosted the Open Championship an impressive 31 times. Include Liverpool on your next trip to the UK and walk in the footsteps of such great champions as Tom Watson, Steve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods, and take on the Royal links for yourself.
Persian gulf meets arabian golf
An emerging golf destination is rising in the Arabian Peninsula, where according to the Emirates Golf Federation there are 21 courses and growing. Most of these reside in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, with a new course recently built in Oman. This is one of the world’s most inventive destinations and the golf courses are no different. Golfers can combine three, four or more rounds of golf into a week or two week grand Arabian Golf Adventure. Best known for high-end shopping, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman combine to offer visitors not only a shopping mecca, but culinary experiences, falconry, jeep tours and fantasy Arabian adventures in the desert.
In addition to Emirates Golf Club, home to the Dubai Desert Classic, Jumeriah Golf Club was the first course built for championship play. Al Badia has 12 holes that feature uniquely designed water features, while Saadiyat Beach was the first ocean course built in the Persian Gulf. Abu Dhabi Golf Club is a Troon managed course unique for their club house with a large winged falcon perched atop a golf ball.
To plan your unique golf adventure, contact AZ Trails Travel.