With a huge number of high quality golf courses throughout Europe it is a difficult – if not impossible – task to select the best 10, but we have given it a try, so here goes with our selection:
The hallowed fairways of the golf course at Valderrama in Sotogrande, Cadiz, Spain are famous the world over due to not only the extremely high standard of the golf course, but also the history and reputation of the players and tournaments that have taken place there.
Most famously Valderrama is remembered for the hotly contested 1997 Ryder Cup with the European team under the guidance of Seve, but the golf course has also hosted multiple Spanish Opens and many other top level professional and amateur tournaments over the years.
Always found in excellent condition on tees, fairways, greens and practice grounds, and with excellent service in the clubhouse, Real Club Valderrama is for good reason one of the most famous golf courses in Spain and Europe.
Close to the city of Girona, north of Barcelona in Catalunya you will find the quite incredible PGA Catalunya Golf Club and the Stadium Golf Course.
With a deserved reputation as one of the toughest golf courses in Europe, the PGA Catalunya Stadium Course also occupies a berth in the list of the most famous golf courses in Europe.
Having hosted multiple professional tournaments – including the Spanish Open only a few months after opening in 1998 – the conditioning at PGA Catalunya is second-to-none, although if you stray off the fairways even by a few centimetres you will soon discover that finding your ball in the extremely penal rough can be difficult!
Now with excellent hotel options available both on-site and locally in the historic city of Girona, a visit to the golf club at PGA Catalunya and a round on the Stadium Course should underscore the reasons why this is one of the most famous courses in Europe.
Located high on the hillsides overlooking the sparkling western Mediterranean, the golf course at Finca Cortesin has hosted multiple season-climaxing Volvo Masters events on the European Tour and it is for this reason that it is now considered to be one of the best and most famous golf courses in Europe.
However, unsuspecting golfers should be careful not to be deceived by the great location into thinking that the course will be a walk in the park. In fact, due to the extreme elevation changes, sloping fairways, penal rough and hugely undulating greens Finca Cortesin is without doubt one of the toughest golf courses around. But with careful choice of playing from the correct tees for your handicap, players of all standards will find playing at Finca Cortesin a tricky but still enjoyable golfing day out.
The Old Course in Vilamoura takes its place in this list for many reasons, but the main factor is in its name – Old! A precursor to the golf course building boom in the Algarve, the Old Course was established well in advance of most other courses in this world famous stretch of golfing territory and follows a traditional British design ethos, rather than the more recent American style golf course designs that seem to have taken over the central Algarve.
Travelling golfers have been treading the carpet-like fairways of the Vilamoura Old Course since 1969 and it has retained extremely high standards of conditioning ever since.
No keen travelling golfer can really say that they have “done” the Algarve unless they have played at least 1 round here at the Vilamoura Old Course.
Although perhaps not quite as famous overall as the preceding 4 European golf courses, Oitavos Dunes is held in high esteem by many golfers due to its amazing seaside location to the West of Lisbon and the highest standards of design, quality and service that are to be found here.
The golf course rises into ancient dunes land behind the stylish Oitavos Hotel and offers traditional seaside golf features that are common to some of the more well-known and historic links courses found elsewhere in this article. With strong sea breezes adding to the usual sandy lies found on this type of golf course, the challenges at Oitavos Dunes are many, and although the fairways are wide open in many areas of the golf course, a good score can still be a big challenge for many mid to high handicap players.
St Andrews Old Course, Fife, Scotland
There is little to be said about the Old Course at St Andrews that hasn’t already been said and in the opinion of most knowledgeable golfers it is to be found in the top 3 golf courses in the world, so let’s leave it there for you to enjoy the picture above and if you haven’t played it, be sure to get your name in the ballot sometime and discover it for yourself!
Wentworth Golf Club West Course, Surrey, England
Referred to by Ernie Els as being “England’s Augusta” and one of the finest privately-owned golf clubs in the world, Wentworth certainly lives up to its high reputation. Located in Virginia Water the West Course (7281yds) at Wentworth has hosted some of the world’s highest ranked Golf Tournaments including the Ryder Cup 1926 & 1953, the 1932 Curtis Cup, the World Matchplay Championship 1964 to 2007 and today hosts the annual BMW Championship attracting some of the world’s best players and spectators from across the globe.
The West Course just one of three championship courses this exclusive golf club offers its members, the other two are The East (6201yds) and The Edinburgh (7059yds).
Wentworth Golf Club – also the headquarters of the PGA European Tour – is surrounded by the Wentworth Estate, known as one of the most exclusive addresses in London – and is home to many top professional golfers and celebrities who spend much of their spare time at the club.
Woburn Golf Club, Buckinghamshire, England
Members and visitors to Woburn benefit from three exceptional championship golf courses; the Dukes, Duchess and Marquess Courses.
Since Woburn’s first prestigious tournament in 1979 (Dunlop Masters), Woburn has gone on to host a further fifty professional events including The British Masters and The Women’s British Open Championship.
Although Woburn Golf Club relish hosting the professional events, they also strive to create a memorable golfing experience for their members and visitors. The five-star service staff offer from the moment you walk through the entrance really helps guests relax and enjoy their experience at the club. Walking through the clubhouse offers the opportunity to see just how proud the club are to have Ian Poulter and Charlie Hull as their touring professionals, with images of their victories hung alongside their trophies through the corridors.
Lush practice greens and a huge driving range are available to all golfers before taking on any of the three championship courses. Whether it be The Dukes Course; 6983 yards long; fairways lined with pine, silver birch and chestnut trees, or The Duchess Course; the least challenging but still 6651 yards long or The Marquess Course; designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark set within 200 acres of woodland and host of the most recent British Masters all visitors will certainly remember all 18 holes and their Woburn experience!
Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course, Lincolnshire, England
With the home of England Golf located at Woodhall Spa, it is clear that the golf courses here must be special and the Hotchkin Course is therefore one of Britain and Europe’s most famous golf courses.
Built in a links style, yet with intriguing parkland features, the Hotchkin serves up a range of varied golfing challenges throughout its 18 holes. Whether this is having to play out sideways from the sleepered faces of towering bunkers or negotiating the humps and hollows of the fairways or putting out on the slick and true but huge rolling greens, the pedigree of this wonderful inland links is almost without peer in the UK.
Perhaps not quite as well-known as some other UK and Ireland courses on this list, it is the true challenge of the Hotchkin that provides it’s fame – or rather its infamy – and makes it a worthy holder of a place in the top 10 most famous golf courses in Europe.
Royal County Down Golf Club Championship Links, Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Often described as the number 1 golf course in the world, the Championship Links at Royal County Down is without question 1 of the top 2 most famous golf courses in the UK and Ireland and certainly deserving of being a top 10 ranked European golf course.
With narrow ribbons of fairway threaded between towering gorse-covered sandhills, finding the fairways at Royal County Down is just the first of many challenges, with the hugely undulating greens being the final challenge on each hole. Taking the putter out even from the fairway might be the best option if you have laid up short of the green as the firm domed putting surfaces can challenge the ball-control of even the very best proponents of the short game!
A round at Royal County Down in any weather conditions is sure to be memorable, but if the wind gets up off the Irish Sea or down from the glowering Mountains of Mourne the challenge of the Championship Links may lose some of its enjoyment – but is absolutely certain to linger long in the memory.
So there you are- not a definitive list – and certainly only the opinion of the team at Golf de la Luz, but those are our top 10 golf courses in Europe for you!