Author: Rob Smith
Even before I was lucky enough to completely land on my Footjoys and start working in golf, I was already a keen course collector. I drooled over the rankings, devoured Sir Peter Allen’s ‘Play The Best Courses’, and headed on trips to places I would otherwise not have dreamed of visiting. Domestically, this took me to the likes of Aberdovey, Cruden Bay, Silloth and Waterville. Further afield, it led to exciting detours whilst on holiday to Seefeld in Austria, Tryall in Jamaica, Royal Delhi in India and Torrey Pines in the States.
In the seven or eight years I have been visiting courses for Golf Monthly, the total has risen to a number that some people consider unhealthily excessive, whilst others look down on it as the feeble tally of someone who clearly cannot be bothered. It is now in excess of 775, but the reason for not being more precise is that it changes quite regularly. The latest count therefore probably depends on when you read this, and maybe even how quickly you read, but the point of mentioning all this is that even after playing so many courses in 38 countries, the thrill and the joy of venturing to golfing pastures new remains.
For example, only last week I popped over to southern Spain for a couple of nights to take a look at an excellent course that has recently aligned itself with international management company, Troon Golf. La Reserva at Sotogrande is a Cabell Robinson that seems destined for big things, surrounded as it is by a handful of premier league courses including Valderrama and another Robinson design, Finca Cortesin. Not only is it enormous fun from start to finish, but the service is both first-class and relaxed, and there are plenty of other attractions in the area with many fine hotels and restaurants as well as a very smart marina. Just an hour from Malaga Airport, the area appeals either for a weekend or longer, and even for those who think they know Spain quite well, there is much that is new and of interest.
Further afield, I’ve been to South Africa a couple of times recently and this very beautiful country is blessed with many fine courses as well as superb dining and accommodation still at very affordable prices. The Garden Route from Cape Town along to Port Elizabeth is dotted with great golf, superb vineyards and breathtaking coastline. One of my favourite resorts is Fancourt, just outside George, which has three glorious and quite varied courses including the Links which has hosted both the Presidents Cup and the Volvo Golf Champions.
Golf travel is a delight not simply because it takes you to new and different courses. Often, it is as much due to the time you spend in resorts, villages, towns and in scenery that would otherwise probably never make it onto the radar. In short, it’s the perfect excuse to travel.