Links Golf: Long awaited visit at Golf Club Föhr

aaaI can’t recall exactly but I might have been to Föhr a dozen times. Föhr, the neighboring island to Sylt in north Germany, was one of my parents’ usual family summer holiday destinations and as a kid I remember spending quite some time on the island. I didn’t appreciate the beauty of it back then and when I reached a certain age, I just stopped going without hesitation. Needless to say I wasn’t golfing in my teens and never visited the golf course—until just recently. I had to become 40 years of age and the course needed some severe renovations in order to be mentioned in golf articles and to earn a spot on my bucket list.

I was born and raised in the north of Germany and therefore beaches, islands and the North or Baltic Sea are quite normal go-to places for me. I’d say I feel comfortable on remote islands, appreciate the Frisian landscape, the way of life and also enjoy the nature more and more.

In 2019 I thought it’s about time to go visit the island of Föhr again, spend some time with my parents in our old holiday hideaway, bring my own little family and wallow in reminiscences. Clearly I packed my golf clubs as well, because in the past years the local golf club, which is around since 1925, underwent quite some drastic changes to the course layout and architecture and all I’ve heard and seen so far sounded amazing. So I just had to go.

Insta Post Föhr Stunning

The North Frisian flag and the club’s logo is yellow, red and blue and quite fitting the club offers three 9-hole loops, and they are called “yellow”, “red” and—yep—“blue”. As said, the club history dates back to the 1920s when it started as a private golf course of the North Sea Sanatorium and was the first one ever built on North Sea shores in Germany. It was rebranded Privat Golfclub Südstrand Föhr and later Golf Club Föhr from 1966.

While the famous German golf course architect Bernhard von Limburger created the original 9 holes back in the days, the club had to move to another property at some point and Frank Pennick was asked to create a completely new 9-hole course design in 1971. It was later extended to 18 holes in 1989 and could be described as a classic parkland course, as it was meandering through forest, despite being so close to the North Sea coast.

20 years later Städler golf course architects were put in charge to create another 9 holes to complete a desirable setting with three 9-hole loops. And it took another five years that Christian Althaus was reassigned as course architect to overhaul most of the existing holes to create the modern classic it has become today. With his own course design firm he was indeed able to drastically change the look of most golf holes and convert them into an interesting parkland/links combination, a new setting of 9-hole loops that all start and end at the club house, which obviously makes course trafficking much easier.

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All three courses have slighty different course characteristics and therefore attract different players and desires. What they all have in common is that the parkland holes of the past are integrated in every loop: Old course characteristics in the first one or two holes are combined with newly crafted holes as it opens up to the more linksy area of the course, and then by hole 7, 8 or 9 you find yourself back in the parkland area of the course again.

This is likely the only obvious weakness of the club that they spent a good portion of emphasis on new routing, new dunes landscapes and extravagant and extraordinarily beautiful golf holes with duneland characteristics, but at the same time somewhat neglected the holes just around the club house. There really is a drastic drop in flamboyance when you reach hole 8 or 9 on every loop, which is a pity.

I had a good chat with a course marshal before my first round and he said they are at least re-doing the bunkers and greens of the old holes soon. That should help indeed a little. The club has the potential to play a big role in Germany’s top-5 for a very long time – even without a dedicated dunes course. It’s just that the architectural hole quality should be equaled throughout each round.

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But let’s start at the beginning.

The course is located next to the Föhr airport and a stone’s throw from the south beach of the island. It’s not exactly a links course per definition, being rather inland, and due to the fact that Föhr basically has very little natural dune formations, all aspects of dunes golf on the golf estate had to be done by hand. In contrast to some other courses I know, here it looks very natural indeed and you do believe it just belongs here.

The course doesn’t offer tee times, which actually I like, it’s just a bit uncommon for a player residing in the Frankfurt area, where it’s all about foursomes throughout the week. But I’d prefer an empty course I could just go to and start like here on Föhr any given day.

So I checked in, had a chat with the marshal and he convinced me to start with the red/yellow course combination. You are free to decide spontaneously, obviously depending on tournament closures and other restrictions.

Some general remarks on the course before I’ll go deep on each loop by itself. There is a little driving range and practice facilities which I totally neglected to be honest. What I learned quite quickly is that neither my GPS watch nor my Golfshot app on my phone could offer distances. Not sure why Golfshot wasn’t updated but I failed to synchronize the golf watch for a while and hence had no yardages whatsoever.

That was an unfortunate situation as I pretty much rely on my devices I have to admit. So without that technical support I had to look for distance poles and sprinkler heads again and had to pace out distances, the good old way. My bad if that’s poor preparation but it felt unfamiliar and I adapted with clubbing down with most approach shots to be on the safe side. Gladly I bought the birdie book, maybe the thickest I own to date, which was helpful, too.

The layout of the course is fantastic. It’s fair for most players, has penalty areas here and there but not too many and is just pleasing to the eye. The fairways were more on the brown side I have to say, so it’s not lush green what I experienced, there were numerous neglected areas which didn’t differ much from the rough other than being cut shorter. I understand the course should be kept as natural as possible but I was a bit disappointed by the fairway quality.

The greens have been in immaculate condition however. They do tend to be slower than expected on hard coastal soil but were undulating and interesting to play.

Being close to the sea, the course is impacted by rather strong winds, as you might expect on a links-style course. On my second day I played the blue/blue course combination in decent storm and it was really tricky to maneuver the ball from tee to green.

Even with the wind, playing the course is an absolute joy. With its interesting layout, the dunes, the features such as a double green on the yellow course, the wildlife, the birds, the tranquility of the course, it’s real fun and a great golf day is guaranteed. I was carrying my bag (on day one), the walking distances are rather short and sometimes you get that Monte Rei feeling when you walk the fairway and all you see is dunes, no other track, no other soul, no distraction whatsoever. Really enjoyed that.

Let’s jump into the course specifics, shall we.

Yellow

The yellow course is the one of the three that stands out because it’s a little different, I’d say. In contrast to red and blue there is no particular linksy character, it’s more a typical north German inland course.

It starts with a tee shot that could be in Pinehurst as well: Wasteland areas and tree lines. The hole finishes after a dogleg left on a mere 100 meter long double green, sharing it with hole number 7.

Number 2 is a beautiful par-5 with loads of waste areas and a set of bunkers in approach shot distance to the green. What follows is a beautiful par-3 and the interesting 4th that features water left and right of the fairway and left and right of the green.

The 5th is another exciting par-3 over water with a 40 meter green complex, guarded by large bunkers. Number 6 and 7 offer extensive wasteland and dune formations, while 8 and 9 are coming back towards the club house.

The yellow course is quite a forgiving track, not too tricky but exciting to get around. When I played it, there was literally no other person and I was super quick. I have to say, I was clubbing down, played safe, teed off with my 2-iron (not on the par-3s obviously) and kept the ball in play at all times. Good feeling!

Red

The red course starts with four beautifully modern wasteland holes, then has three pure links-style holes before it ends with two really boring holes towards the end.

It all starts with a dogleg par-4. You’re playing out of the wood towards water which guards the green and you’re happy to reach it in two safely. Hole 2 is a par-4 dogleg right with huge wasteland areas to the left and right side of the fairway.

Number 3 is an interesting par-3 and 4 is a par-4 with wasteland to the right hand side.

Hole 5 is the first dune hole, a fairly straight one, while the 6th is a 150 meter par-3 over a ditch. 150 meters sound ok, but if it’s windy you find yourself grabbing for a longer iron or even a wood to master the distance to the plateau.

The 7th is an interesting par-5 through the dunes landscape before 8 and 9 are again extremely boring and old-fashioned holes.

On my round I was stuck in traffic like maybe never before. There was a threesome in front of me and these people were everywhere but they weren’t in the fairway. It took ages to get from hole to hole and they didn’t let me play through, and I was playing as a single! Super frustrating. Thought about stopping or playing criss-cross but then accepted my fate and stuck it out.

Blue

The blue course shares its characteristics with the red course I would say. Some parkland holes, the rest links-style:

Holes 1 and 2 are an old-fashioned par-4 and par-3. Nothing to be too excited about unfortunately. Then however, oh my, the 3rd, a split-fairway par-4 with a green tucked away in the upper right corner. Really cool hole, almost unexpected after the underwhelming 1st and 2nd.

Here it opens up to classic links holes. Number 4 is a par-5 with various elevation changes, the 5th is a long par-4 with an interesting green complex, followed by the 6th, a beautiful par-3, one that you might find in golf publications.

Holes 7 and 8 are very good straight par-4s with dunes characteristics while at the same time getting back into more of the tree-rich area of the property. Hole 9 is another one of these super boring old ones that urgently need some refreshing.

I liked the blue course very much. So much that I played it twice actually—in heavy storm I have to add. It was a bit more dangerous with the longer shots, but I managed to keep in play and only lost one or maybe two balls.

Due to the weather there was no traffic at all. Sometimes I saw another person on one of the other holes but nothing kept me from playing 18 holes in 2.5 hours. That’s right. It took me 150 minutes for a complete round of golf, on one of the most interesting and beautiful courses of the country that is! Amazing.

In case you are interested, here are some nice flyover videos for yellow, red and blue.

As a conclusion: If you’d ask me which course combination would be my favorite, it’s tricky to answer. Yellow is interesting and beautiful but being in the rugged north, it has to be the red/blue combination that pulls the trigger as the best holes you can play here. But that’s just my opinion and you have to see for yourself.

As far as critique goes: I already mentioned that green-keeping should definitely maintain the fairways in a better shape. Summer wasn’t even hitting the north much by then and yet the fairway looked very pitiful I have to say. Another point is the lacking quality of flagsticks and cups. That sounds a bit pedantic but during my round on blue/blue, playing in the storm, 6 out of 18 flagsticks were torn out by the wind and were lying flat on the ground. First I thought I should blame the group in front of me but then I realized that it’s just not stable enough and that the club management apparently saved some dough and went for the cheap stuff when ordering flags and cups. As a recommendation, Golf Club Föhr should reconsider.

All in all two fantastic rounds of golf. The club is a real treat and much better than some of the other North Sea golf courses, of Sylt for instance. Yes, it takes some time and effort to get to the course, being on an island, but once you are here, you shouldn’t leave without teeing off.

Fun fact at the end of my report: At one point during my trip to Föhr I was pony riding with my little 2-year old daughter. What I learned weeks later is that the pony trail that we walked was on the old golf course property that Bernhard von Limburger had built in the 1920s. What a coincidence!

Photo credits: golficiency.com, golfclubfoehr.de, clubtags.de
Disclaimer: Golficiency was offered a reduced media rate.

Quick visit to Gut Kaden Golf und Land Club

gutkaden-1In June, on our way to Föhr, where two rounds of links golf were planned, we made a very short detour and stopped for one of the most beautiful golf resorts in north Germany.

Gut Kaden Golf und Land Club is a 27-hole resort 30 minutes north of Hamburg, Germany. It sits remotely in the picturesque Holsteinian countryside on grounds what used to be a manor back in the days. The gorgeous manor house, also represented in the country club’s logo, was built in the 18th century while the whole grounds as aristocratic estate date back to the 14th century even.

Today you’ll find in such magnificent surroundings a modern hotel, an exquisite restaurant, three 9-hole golf loops and everything you need to enjoy a great golf getaway.

These two chairs are placed behind hole B9 and overlook some parts of the golf estate from the manor house’s perspective. When I posted this picture on Instagram, I titled it “Could sit here all day”. And that’s no exaggeration: Bring good food, good coffee, good wine and I’d spend the day here watching some golf.

Of course, I’d rather play myself, but you know what I mean. This is a fine place for golf. Period.

The region of Hamburg is truly blessed with top courses of all sorts of style. And even when Kaden is not equally good or famous as Falkenstein or Hittfeld, it is definitely a club worth having in mind when you’re after great golf, amenities and hospitality.

If Hamburg was chosen to host the Olympics in 2024, Gut Kaden would have been the venue for the golf events as they have quite some experience staging professional golf tournaments. The 2019 German Team Championships (“Final Four”) will be held at Gut Kaden later this year, too.

My course review yet to come. Stay tuned.

For the best idea how Gut Kaden looks (and plays) like, you should watch this neat 3D flyover video.

Our round at Weimarer Land on video

You will have read here, that Golficiency had quite some weekend at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land a couple of weeks ago. We had a camera with us and rolled it here and there, and this is the outcome.

What you see is three terrible weekend golfers on the Goethe course at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land—having much fun nonetheless!

Long golf weekend in Weimar

On our quest to play the best courses and see the best resorts in Germany, you’ll find yourself from time to time to look out for new jewels. A good starting point has always been the commonly known ‘best-of’ rankings in golf magazines for the various countries you’re interested in. And although one should be a tad skeptical about these lists in general, there are indeed some courses which find themselves in top 5, top 10 or top 20 ranks over and over again. So there must be some truth in it.

We heard so much positive about Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land for quite a while that it was no real question if we’d like to tee off here and check for ourselves—it was more a question of when.

Being on and off the agenda for some time, we took a shot this June and finally made it to Weimar, and more precisely to Blankenhain, in the deep Thuringia countryside. The resort offers two courses so it was decided amongst a group of three to stay for a long weekend to enjoy golf to the fullest. Due to some family issues on my end we unfortunately missed most of the planned Friday activities, but everything what came on Saturday and Sunday did not at all fell short of expectations.

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The resort has so much to offer that it would be a shame not to mention all the nice amenities on the property.

First things first

The resort is located on grounds which were farm land back in the days. Where cattle was once fed, there is a fairway now, where fish was bred, there is a water hazard now. Members of the Grafe family years ago decided to invest in that land and start a hotel and golf complex. And it turned out a good idea to use the basis of the ex farm houses and neatly transform them into what now looks like purpose-built high-class hotel and golf facilities with a rustic feel.

Being placed in the countryside, half an hour from Weimar, it is a tranquil place to play golf indeed. There is nothing that would interfere in your game, nothing that would take the concentration from you, unless you really want to.

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The approach of the resort (or the management for that matter) seems to be delivering top services and then grow, increase and expand to the next level. A good example are the golf courses themselves. Currently there are two of them: The Goethe course and the Feininger course. Goethe opened in 2010 and Feininger followed in 2012. You can also play a course named after Bobby Jones which is a collection of different holes as a combination of the two existing courses. It’s made up of 1 to 5 and 15 to 18 of the Goethe course plus the 10 to 18 of the Feininger course. That makes it a better spectator’s course as it’s looping 9 out and 9 in from the club house.

There are plans to build another course as well and also to overhaul the resort’s par-3 course with additional holes. Something that’s not necessary to redo is the practice facilities. Here you find everything you need including a range equipped with Trackman devices, Flightscope and a box dedicated to Logical Golf (basically a TechnoGym kinesis golf fitness wall)

Christoph Städler and his team were responsible for the complete design of golf facilities and course architecture. They created a resort which quickly became famous domestically and was awarded ‘Best New Course in Germany 2013’ by Golf Magazin. Meanwhile it is selected member of ‘World of Leading Golf‘.

The courses

Going into a bit more detail, the courses for me are typical resort courses. Fair for most players, but challenging enough for the better players. If you are able to strike the ball well and have decent length, you are confronted with hazards and bunkers which are out of play for the shorter (or smarter) players.

‘Hard par, easy bogey’ has been the philosophy designing the courses, according to Städler but it has to be said that while these are great courses for all sorts of players, those better and longer ball strikers who manage to find the fairway more often, will miss one or the other challenge throughout the course, especially because there is no additional tee box. It’s just yellow and red and a scratch player plays from the same tees as a senior, with all due respect.

The Goethe plays approximately 6’000 meters for the gents (CR 72.2, slope 134) and looks like an old parkland course (despite being so young) due to the surrounding woods. The holes feature undulating fairways and interesting routing.

The third hole is a beautiful par-3 with water in front and to the left and is just a very pretty golf hole.

Hole 5 is laid out on an interesting plateau for the second shot, number 6 rewards a brave approach shot, 4 and 7 are tricky par-5s.

The 12th is the absolute signature hole in my opinion. It’s played downhill towards a pond that splits the fairway in two parts. So what’s necessary is either a short straight lay-up and a second over water, or a full shot to the right hand side, but then still a second shot over water, a bit shorter from that angle though. Beautiful hole, course management tactics required.

The 15th features a split fairway with an approach shot through a tree corridor, over a bridge into a rather small green.

These are a couple of examples of interesting holes on the Goethe course, but all others not mentioned are far from boring. And the distances from green to next tee are so short that even Reisegolfer would approve.

One thing I might mention as critique is the fact that there are quite some blind holes, meaning you don’t see the flag from the tee box and have to involve guess work from time to time. A fact that can clearly be lifted with some experience or when you play the course for the second or third time.

The Feininger course is the younger brother on the property. It is more open plan, less trees or tree-lined fairways, but more water—at least on the front nine. It’s par-71 with 5’700 meters (CR 70.6, slope 126). Fairways are undulated and in general the course follows heathland characteristics to some degree, I’d say.

Hole 1 starts with not less than two water hazards, followed by no. 2, again with loads of water towards a double green. I haven’t seen that for quite a while but holes 2 and 12 share the same green complex. Very interesting.

The 3rd is a tricky par-5 around water, followed by a short par-3 and a beautiful dogleg par-4.

While the front 9 seem to be played around a lot of water, the back nine are more situated to the north-east towards a hilly part of the property. There is less water involved, actually only on 18, and the course characteristics appear to be a bit different.

The amenities

Some words on the hotel and the facilities. That part I’ve seen really made a very good impression. The staff was overly nice and friendly, the breakfast was excellent, the restaurants cater for every wish or need and so does the bar. We stayed there on the US Open weekend and you can imagine that a cosy bar, live golf and some drinks in good company is hard to beat really!

Golf is a seasonal game in central Europe, so it’s clear that resorts like this are trying to attract guests not only for golf, but also for wellness, fitness and culinary pleasures of life. In my opinion that’s totally accomplished here. Even when your spouse has no interest whatsoever to play golf, you can definitely spend a good long weekend or even longer here without being bored or sluggish. Things like the pools, the massages, the fitness area and all sorts of well-being facilities will create a good mood and atmosphere.

I will definitely be back soon. Matthias Grafe and Thomas Mönch, the golf manager, created a little golf paradise in the middle of the Thuringia countryside, just where Goethe used to enjoy horse riding and hiking. He’d appreciate golf as well if he could, I’m sure.

Disclaimer: Golficiency was offered a reduced media rate.

Sweden golf, Ekerum Resort Öland

During the preparation for our holidays in Sweden I researched so much on golf courses and was literally stunned by the sheer amount of top notch courses they have.

I wanted to play them all. As that’s not really possible when you travel with your family I narrowed it down to a bit more than a handful. Still a lot of golf. And then our itinerary required some severe adjustments so that we cut most of our journey through south Sweden and ended up in Stockholm and Öland.

No hard feelings, but I managed to play one round and one round only on Öland.

I played the Långe Jan course at the Ekerum Resort just outside of Borgholm, Öland. The resort features two courses, one named by the lighthouse in the very south of the island, the other named by the lighthouse in the very north. Both of them are supposed to be very nice, the Långe Erik being more kind of a “normal” course, and Långe Jan featuring a modern re-fit with wasteland areas and some tweaks you don’t find at every other course.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course, even with my round taking donkeys with some slow people all over the place. I got in traffic, joined a couple’s group which happened to be members and they told me they never experienced such traffic on the course yet. Well, bad luck for me.

Sweden has great courses to offer, and a big shoutout to the Exilgolfer and Sweden Golf, I got some great recommendations which courses to play. I will take my notes out again next time Sweden is back on my list. I can’t wait to play Bro Hof, Barsebäck, PGA of Sweden, Hills, Sand, Falsterbo, and so many more.

For this time it was just Ekerum. Very good course though. Would definitely recommend you play if you are on the island.

More information: Ekerum Resort Golf

#WomenOnCourse campaign inspires a generation at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

Host venue of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, inspires a generation with unique interactive campaign to uncover what makes women great

As 126 of the world’s best female golf professionals prepare to compete in the inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open (FBMLO), 2-5 November, the host venue, Gary Player’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, is inspiring a generation in Abu Dhabi by showcasing the many diverse roles women play across all walks of life with an interactive #WomenOnCourse campaign.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has recognised the opportunity presented by the FBMLO to inspire and support women, both on the golf course and off. The #WomenOnCourse initiative launched yesterday and will continue throughout the tournament week, asking players, spectators and the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club family to get involved and show their support.

Clinton Norris, Sales Manager, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club says, “It is important we use this fantastic event to celebrate the major roles women play in our community and society at large. Our campaign is designed to support the Ladies European Tour and get people thinking and sharing their thoughts, whatever gender, age, ethnicity, so we can all appreciate and openly share how we are inspired by those we know and admire.”

#WomenOnCourse activities kicked off yesterday with a compelling discussion between LET professionals Melissa Reid and Camilla Lennarth, and two inspiring Emirati ladies Sarah Al Nowais, founder of FitNut Blog and co-founder TheADmovement and Fatima Al Ali, Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy as they shared their ideas on what makes women great and their thoughts about being ‘on course’, both in the literal sense of the golf course, and also ‘on course’ in life.

Camilla Lennarth said, “Whether it’s to win a tournament this season or achieve a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle, setting goals and check-points is integral to staying on course. What makes women great is their ability to empower one another and support their peers throughout these journeys. Being here in Abu Dhabi is a great opportunity to showcase golf and inspire the next generation.”

Sarah Al Nowais said, “TheADmovement was created to support and encourage women in Abu Dhabi to participate in an active lifestyle and sports. Seeing all these women here at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, taking part in the first ladies professional golf tournament in Abu Dhabi has really inspired me to try golf and I hope that other women take the chance to visit during the event weekend.”

Monday evening also saw Saadiyat Beach Golf Club host a clinic for 16 students from the Higher Colleges of Technology. Leading up to the FMBLO, the club in collaboration with FBMA, has hosted a Training Program – offering Emirati women and students a series of 10 lessons over a five week period. Fatima Al Ali, who participated in the training said “I really love golf now that I’ve taken part in the sessions and it’s so exciting to meet some of the world’s best players here in Abu Dhabi.”

The #WomenOnCourse campaign continues, with the club asking the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club family, the players, tournament spectators and general golf fans to get involved and share their thoughts on what makes women great.

(External source)

South Africa’s Western Cape wins award for “Best International Golfing Destination”

westerncape-17nov16The Western Cape’s natural paradise has been recognised as the 2016 Golf Destination of the Year for Africa and the Gulf States by the global trade association of the golf tourism industry, IAGTO.

Golf tour operators from South Africa who were present and exhibiting at the 2016 IGTM (International Golf Travel Market) collected the award on behalf of the Western Cape at the IAGTO Awards Gala Dinner held in Palma, Spain.

“It is fantastic to win this award in which we were up against the following nominees: Abu Dhabi, Agadir, Dubai and Casablanca. I hope it will encourage more golfers to visit South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape,” said Carl Reinders, of Pro Golf Africa Safaris, speaking on behalf of the South African golf operators. “South Africa has now been awarded an IAGTO Destination or Golf Resort Award for the 7th time since 2003, which highlights just what a fantastic golf destination our beautiful country is and the wonderful golf it has to offer.”

Reinders said that with the diversity that South Africa and particularly the Western Cape provides, with quality golf, wine, cuisine, culture, beautiful landscapes and of course the opportunity for safari, makes it a unique destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The fact that South Africa is also excellent value for money is an added advantage, together with the wonderful climate it has throughout most of the year.

The Western Cape has a fantastic array of golf courses, with some of the best courses in the country such as Pearl Valley, De Zalze, Erinvale and Stellenbosch Golf Club situated amongst the historical Stellenbosch and Franschhoek Winelands.

Within the city of Cape Town, courses such as Royal Cape, Clovelly, Milnerton and Atlantic Beach boast magnificent views of the famous Table Mountain. Arabella Resort and Spa, situated on the Western Cape’s Whale Coast, is also a past winner of the prestigious “Golf Resort of the Year” award presented by IAGTO, and combined with Hermanus Golf Club and the opportunity to see Southern Right Whales nursing their young is just another unique experience on offer in this beautiful part of South Africa. The city of Cape Town, which is at the centre of this fantastic region, is one of the most celebrated tourism destinations in the world.

The IAGTO Awards were established in 2000 to reward exceptional contributions to the world of golf travel. IAGTO’s 500+ golf tour operators from 62 different countries cast their votes for these Awards. Each operator was asked to nominate what they considered to be the best performing golf destinations this year enjoyed by their golf travelling clients.

The golf destination in each of the five regions with most votes receives the 2017 Golf Destination of the Year accolade. Operators were asked to consider the following criteria: customer satisfaction, quality of golf courses & accommodation, value for money, professional conduct of suppliers, support from the local tourism industry and accessibility to tee times.

(External source)

Costa Navarino and Monte Rei celebrate back-to-back WLG award successes

The stunning Greek resort of Costa Navarino, in the Peloponnese, has been honoured at the prestigious World of Leading Golf (WLG) awards for the third successive year.

WLG, an organisation representing many of the most renowned golf clubs and resorts in 17 countries, has held an award ceremony only for the past three years – and Costa Navarino is the only resort to have collected a ‘gong’ at each of the ceremonies.

In the first year it was for ‘best newcomer’; last year it was for ‘best service’; and this year, at a ceremony at Golf Son Gual, in Mallorca, it took the title for ‘best overall impression’.

The ‘environmentally responsible’ resort, in Messinia, comprises a number of distinct and complementary sites featuring five-star hotels, residences, spas and leisure facilities, including two stunning championship golf courses: the Dunes and the Bay.

But it wasn’t the only destination to get the warm familiar glow of award success, for Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, in the Eastern Algarve, took the top award for the second successive occasion. Last year it was titled ‘best member’ – this year the title was renamed ‘best overall venue’, but the outcome was the same.

Monte Rei features a championship Jack Nicklaus signature course in more than 1,000 acres of countryside, and was voted Portugal’s number one in the 2016 Golf Digest ‘best courses’ ranking.

Club de Golf Alcanada – the only course in Mallorca adjacent to the sea – received the award for ‘best service’, with particular emphasis being placed on the friendliness, competence and up-selling ability of its employees.

Its Robert Trent Jones Jnr course opened in 2003 and blends naturally into the typical Mallorcan terrain, while offering magnificent mountain and sea views, amid mixture of pine and olive groves. In addition, the club boasts a centuries-old Mallorca clubhouse with a sun-baked terrace.

For golfing gourmands, it did not come as too much of a shock to learn that the award for ‘best culinary offering’ went to Golf Club Beuerberg, in Eurasburg, Germany.

Beuerberg, located 20 miles south of Munich, opened in 1982 and is a former host venue of the European Ladies Open. The restaurant, under the experienced auspices of Urs Zondler, who has been in charge of the kitchen since it opened, is renowned not just for the quality and variety of food, but also the ambience and service.

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Links joined WLG only in early 2016, yet it created such an impression that it was awarded the title of ‘best course condition’.

Sprawled out along almost two miles of sandy Arabian Gulf coast, the Kyle Phillips’ design was the first links course in the Middle East. Measuring 7,414 yards off the tips, Yas Links took more than three years to construct and has eight holes abutting the coastline itself. It is ranked number one in the Middle East and #46 in the world by Golf Digest; and it sits at #62 in the world ranking with Platinum Clubs of the World.

The three-time Volvo World Match Play venue, Finca Cortesin – located just inland from the Malaga coast – took the honour of ‘best newcomer’, which seems to be a platform for future glories.

Its 6,802m, par-72 championship course opened in 2007 and is ranked as one of Spain’s best. Designed by Cabell B Robinson, it makes the most of its natural Mediterranean landscape and includes 20 varieties of flora and a forest. It also incorporates a Jack Nicklaus Academy and offers a golf-club valet and cleaning service, state-of-the-art practice facilities, buggies with the latest GPS technology, and an on-course buggy bar for ice-cold drinks.

Claus Feldt, WLG’s chief executive, said: “Once again we were able to reward the crème de la crème of WLG members. The standard of competition for all of these awards is probably the highest anywhere given that all WLG members have to attain amazingly high levels anyway; so to emerge victorious in any category is a real badge of honour for golf resorts.

“It makes you really proud to work in an industry where so many people take such immense pride in what they offer to their clientele. We should also give our thanks to everybody who came along to enjoy the evening’s activities and to Andreas Pamer and his team at Son Gual for the use of their stunning venue and their excellent hospitality.”

Alcanada’s director of golf, Kristoff Both, added: “It was a really memorable and enjoyable evening; a great opportunity to meet with like-minded people, and to exchange views and ideas in a very convivial atmosphere. To receive this prestigious award alongside so many other fantastic clubs is a huge honour for us.”

WLG and its member clubs are passionately committed to preserve golf culture, but not only by heeding to such things as rules, dress code and etiquette – they commit to the very highest of quality standards concerning the design and caretaking of golf courses and services, as well as the levels of ambiance and gastronomy.

(External source)

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club Listed in World’s Most Iconic and Influential Clubhouses

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, the premier golf resort in the Middle East located in the heart of Dubai, is proud to join the ranks of the world’s most well-known Clubhouses in Golf.com’s recent listing of The 18 Most Iconic Clubhouses.

The influential list compiled by leading Golf Magazine’s Joe Passov has recognised Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, and its home the UAE, as being a destination for this world class sport, acknowledging the club for its impressive aesthetics, architecture and history alongside the 18-hole championship golf course it is renowned for.

Coming in at number eight on this respected list, special reference is made toward the iconic nautical heritage of the Club’s concrete ‘sails’ and everything it represents.

“It is a great honour for Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club to be included in such a prestigious list of world-renowned golf clubs. Our iconic clubhouse is a Dubai landmark, which represents the city’s important nautical heritage, as well as being the only golf clubhouse in the world to be featured on the Nation’s banknote. To join the prestigious list of golf clubhouses including The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews and Augusta National Golf Club, as well as being the only club from the Middle East really puts golf in Dubai on the international map”. Christopher May, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Golf.

(External source)

Finca Cortesin reveals 2017 golfing news at International Golf Travel Market

Top Spanish golf resort Finca Cortesin topped off a successful 2016 at the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) in Mallorca this month with their news for the season ahead.

Director of Golf, Francisco de Lancastre said: “IGTM was particularly busy for us this year and we had a full diary every day of the event. We have firm ambitions to be Europe’s top golfing experience and to this end have a lot of improvements going on that we wanted to share with partners old and new. IGTM was the perfect platform for this.”

Finca Cortesin has unveiled new and improved practice facilities at their Golf Club with new tee line and range furniture, following a substantial renovation. The Jack Nicklaus Academy has benefited from new flightscope technology and guests will also enjoy the arrival of a new club car fleet of buggies, all with premium seats and the latest GPS technology.

With on-going 2016 improvement plans already underway, the resort also plans to increase their gap in between tee times in March 2017 from 12 minutes to 15 minutes, making the experience more seamless for guests. The renovation of the entire golf course maintenance machinery with Toro Company will also be completed by Summer 2017.

Francisco de Lancastre continues: “Looking ahead to 2017 we also plan to renovate our greens from a cool season grass to a warm season grass. This will allow us to improve the quality of our greens throughout the year by adopting a Bermuda species which has important environmental benefits – something we feel very passionate about here at Finca Cortesin.”

Finca Cortesin is a five star boutique hotel in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. Alongside its 6,802 meter Championship golf course and a Jack Nicklaus Golfing Academy, the hotel has Spain’s only snow cave and a Michelin starred restaurant Kabuki Raw. The hotel has developed a reputation as one of Spain’s top golfing destinations with impeccable facilities and wonderful service.

(External source)

About Finca Cortesin
Finca Cortesin is an independent luxury development located close to Sotogrande in Spain. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to one side and the tranquil hills of Casares to the other, Finca Cortesin was designed in the style of a traditional Spanish ‘finca’ (rural estate). The Andalusian retreat features an elegant 67-suite hotel, an 18-hole golf course with a state of the art Jack Nicklaus Academy, a 6,000sqm beach club and a top spa featuring Spain’s only snow cave with bespoke treatments by French beauty brand Boilogique Recherche. The hotel offers four restaurants including El Jardin de Lutz serving authentic Spanish cuisine, and signature Japanese restaurant Kabuki Raw. The development also features exclusive villas available for purchase or rental.