EL PUERTO, SANTA MARIA -- Continental Europe welcomes golfers with open arms during the autumn season. Thousands of August holiday makers have gone back to work, the temperature has lost its sting, and bar and restaurant staff turn on the charm again. Not merely a great time to play but a good opportunity to see the sights without stress and sample the cuisine of countries whose chefs have resumed an unhurried pace. Europe beckons, hospitality at the fore.
French Golf Holidays has produced the French Golden Triangle: three days of golf and four nights accommodation. The courses are Chantilly Vineuil (among the world's top 50 and No. 4 in Europe), Fontainbleau, (officially No. 1 in France) and Les Bordes, recently voted No. 1 in Europe by the Peugot Golf Guide. The pattern is simple and rewarding: drive, play, stay in 3 and 4 star hotels and end up in Paris after a final round at Fontainbleau. Dinner and a show at the city's famed Moulin Rouge complete the picture with an artistic flourish.
This company offers a wide selection - from a one-day break to a week or more. Most are in France, but they dipped a toe in the country next door and named it 'Tuscan Temptation', a provocative invitation to a six-day stay near Florence. Accommodation is at Golf Resort Poggio de'Medici - a country setting enhanced by a16th century villa where the hotel bar and restaurant are located. The Poggio de'Medici course has hosted an Italian Open and is one of Italy's best new courses, according to 'Il Mundo del Golf' magazine.
Other courses on this tour include Firenze Ugolino Golf Course, one of Italy's oldest courses and one requiring technical precision owing to hilly lies. Another round is played at Le Pavoniere, a parkland course designed by Arnold Palmer in the late 1980s.
A bit farther afield is a Turkish golf holiday in the country that has traditionally been seen as a bridge between the east and west. It maintains a certain exotic quality, a hint of the unknown. The country's cuisine embodies the same exotic quality. At the crossroads of the Far East and the Mediterranean, it has absorbed the culinary characteristics of many lands, and is obviously enriched by cultural mingling. Travellers will discover dishes such as dolma (a combination of sautéed rice, pine nuts, currants, spices and herbs wrapped in cabbage leaves). And try the variations of baklava whose very names - twisted turban, lady's naval, nightingale's nest - conjure up rare and wonderful images, as does the country itself.
Tourism is developing rapidly and golf is very much a part of it. Two companies dedicated to making vacationing easy are Eros Travel and Globe. Both plan individual golf holidays: you say where you want to go and how much you want to spend.
Golf in Turkey means golf at Belek, located on the Mediterranean coast at the foot of the Taurus Mountains. Belek was a priority development because of its history, sites of interest, architecture and suitability for golf course construction. Three golf clubs are open to the public; there is a fourth catering only to resort guests.
Nobilis Golf Club features conifers, lakes and rivers and birdie opportunities by competent, aggressive players. This is a flat, well maintained course with excellent practice facilities. Considered challenging enough to satisfy pros, it is a popular venue and attracts return visits.
The National, designed by David Feherty, has been compared to the best courses in Spain. Eucalyptus and pines feature prominently along many of the fairways and large lakes contribute beauty while demanding precision from the player. The clubhouse balcony allows admiration and/or mockery, as it is set beyond the lake beyond the 18th green.
Tat International offers 27 holes in nine hole courses to give a choice of combination. Lying between the sea and a river, the UK architects (Hawtree) have left natural features in place. It has been called a 'very fair course' suitable for all levels of player.
Gloria Golf Resort is Belek's fourth course with 18-holes and is available to resort guests only, and it is a beauty. Designed by Michel Gayon, Gloria is built in a pine forest and has seven lakes to manoeuvre. It is complemented by the newly opened nine-hole Verde Golf Course on the same estate.
Southern Spain and Portugal, in which the month of August signals the beginning of mayhem and which are better avoided because of it, will now be back on form. For golf in these areas, see 'travel features' about those countries at www.travelgolf.com.
Not everyone is mad about the Med - shocking perhaps but true. Those who prefer their autumn crisp may choose to venture into the invigorating air of Austria. 'Golf Destinations' has composed 'Mountains and Music', permitting the combined magic of phenomenal golf with the cultural climates of Salzburg and Vienna. This tour is six days and the time is equally divided between the two cities. The Hotel Schloss Moenchstein is a renovated medieval hunting lodge - a successful mix of grand history and modern conveniences.
Jack Nicklaus' first European course, Gut Altentann Golf Course in Salzburg is not yet rated. Contrast this course with Zell Am See-Kaprun which is laid out alongside the Hohe Tauren National Park. Altitude: 2,461 feet at the foot of a permanently snow-capped mountain. On the following day, Salzkammergut Golf Course is on the schedule. Located near Salzburg, this course is fully mature, having been in play since early in the 1930s.
Next stop: Vienna for three days calling the venerable Hotel Bristol home. Centrally located directly opposite the Vienna State Opera, the hotel's location makes sightseeing and visits to musical events a joy. The opportunity to visit places such as St. Stephen's Cathedral (12th century and considered the heart of Vienna) and Schonbrunn Zoo (the world's oldest and only Baroque Zoo) are balanced with great golf at Schloss Schonborn, considered among the top dozen courses in Austria and then a final round at Gutenhof Himberg.
Gut Altentann Golf Club
Route d'Apremont 60500
Les Bordes Golf
Via Chiantigiana 3
S. de Florencia
Via el della Fattona 6
W. de Florencia
Tel 39- 574-620855
Fax 39- 574-624558
Via San Gavino 27
4820 Bad Ischl 506
Fax 06-132- 26708
Zell am See-Kaprun GC
Golf Strasse 25
5700 Zell am See-Kaprun
Tel 06-542- 56161
Colony Club Gutenhof Himberg
September 10, 2002
Carla Harvey freelances for various magazines in Spain and abroad. Among them are Mediterranean Life, Essential, The Reporter and Lookout Magazine. She was the editor of Marbella Times for five years and WHERE Costa del Sol for two years.
Looking back, the sequence of events leading to golf in Pinehurst seems so fragile, so random, that you wonder how fate didn't take different twists and turns circa 1895. The Tufts Archives, located in the Given Memorial Library, tells the resort's unlikely story.
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