Ivan Morris Column: Golf is a passport to the world

Ivan Morris looks at some of the best golf destinations around the world.

Ivan Morris looks at some of the best golf destinations around the world.

According to a recent HowDidIDo poll, golf remains a ‘passport to the world’ and golfers are still happy to splash their cash even in times of austerity.

A staggering 77% take one golf break each year; a whopping 47% book three or more packages, indicating that even when money is tight dedicated golfers are prepared to travel far and often. With a membership of more than 330,000 golfers, HowDidIDo is Europe’s largest golfing community. There are few better websites from which to take a sample of golfing opinions.

83% of those that travel go for three days or longer. 37 per cent go to the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal (20%) is the most popular destination. Scotland, the Home of Golf, was the second most popular with 18%, and, perhaps not surprisingly, Spain came third with 17 per cent. Only 17 per cent of the breaks were to long-haul destinations, such as the USA or Thailand.

One of the most popular columns I ever wrote in this newspaper was with the help of Peter Brazil of Fly for Golf based at Limerick Travel, Bedford Row. Peter is a fountain of knowledge regarding overseas golf. Once again, I have asked him to list his best golf package offers for 2013. Please note that in all cases the cost of flights is extra.

Spain - 5 Nights in the 4-star, Barcelo Montecastillo Resort, Twin Share, half-board, unlimited golf at Montecastillo from €399pps; perfect for group or societies. This part of Southern Spain offers fantastic value with unlimited access to the Montecastillo golf course designed by Seve Ballesteros.

Spain’s Costa del Sol is always a best seller. Using the Hotel Fuerte Miramar as a base, you can take a dip in the Med before or after your round. Those who prefer shopping and sightseeing are a 5-minute walk from downtown. This 7-nights package includes 5 Rounds of golf at La Quinta, Santa Maria, El Chapparal, Marbella & Rio Real; all are excellent, holiday courses. Prices from: €625pps (until year end 2012.)

Portugal – A perennial favourite is the 4-star, Pestana Dom Joao II Hotel in the Algarve, Twin Share, B&B, 4 Rounds of golf at Alto, Pinta, Silves & Gramacho. 7-nights accommodation including golf from €399pps (based on 4 traveling) transfers to/from golf courses available for €40 for the week – payable locally.

Vilnius, Lithuania - Overlooking two scenic lakes amidst 350 acres of lush, rolling countryside, just 20 minutes by car from the centre of the capital, the V Golf Club offers 3 Nights at Le Meridian Vilnius Hotel, Twin Share, B&B and 2-rounds of golf from €299pps. Vilnius is perfect for a weekend away in a novel but beautiful location.

Myrtle Beach, USA – For me, all things considered, golf resorts in the USA are unsurpassable. A twin-share in the Hilton with B&B, 4 Rounds of golf, including a shared buggy and minivan at Myrtlewood, Prestwick CC, Arcadian Shores & Oyster Bay is priced at €1099pps.

Thailand – 4-nights at 4* Woodlands, Pattaya, Twin Share & 4-Nights in the 5* Marriott Resort & Spa Hua Hin with
6 rounds of top class, cheap golf at Siam Country Club, Khao Kheow CC, Banyan, Laem Chabang, Springfield Royal & Black Mountain from €949pps.

Spain, Costa Brava - Situated in the northeast of Spain country overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Costa Brava region enjoys the ideal weather for an all-year-round, golf holiday destination. A 5-night package staying in 4* Platja Park Hotel, Platja D’Aro, Twin Share, B&B and playing 3 rounds of golf at European Tour standard courses, PGA Catalunya Stadium Course, Emporda Links & PGA Catalunya costs €399pps.

Cascais, Lisbon Coast - Cascais has become one of the best tourist destinations in Portugal, exuding a cosmopolitan atmosphere without losing its local flavour. 6 nights 4* Vila Galé Cascais, Twin Share, B&B, 3-rounds of golf at Estoril GC, Quinta da Marinha & what is often rated the best course in Portugal, Oitavos Dunes; prices from €449pps.

Orlando, USA - Ah Florida, always such a popular destination with traveling golfers. 7 Nights at the 4* Embassy Suites on Jamaican Court, International Drive, Twin Share, B&B, 3 Rounds of Golf at Celebration GC, Disney Magnolia & Shingle Creek – includes shared buggy and Minivan for Duration; priced at €899pps.

Turkey - recent host to the world match play won by Justin Rose is the fastest growing destination for golf travelers - 7 Nights at 4* Corneila de Luxe Resort, Twin Share, All-inclusive with 4-rounds at superb new courses designed by big name architects; prices from€679pps.

My hot tip to myself for 2013 is to have a go at the Carnoustie Classic event in Scotland next May, 13-16th. In its 10th year, this event is hard to beat for good golf and good value. The courses involved Royal Montrose, Panmure, Monifieth and Carnoustie are magical.

Carnoustie, of course, is the site of some of the most memorable Open Championships in history.

Five nights B&B in the excellent Carnoustie Golf Hotel @ £599 (based on 2 people sharing) is ideal for golfing groups; price includes all green fees; welcome reception, quiz night and gala awards dinner and daily transport to and from courses, for more info: www.carnoustiecountry.com