Autumn should mean crisp, bright days and russet-tinged views…and time to unwind on the golf course. In reality, autumn at home can be relentlessly grey and miserable outdoors.
For a golfing break that lives up to the season’s promise, you’ll need to get your destination right. I’m thinking top-notch courses designed by pros, facilities to match, scenery to wow – and guaranteed sunshine. Here’s my list of top autumn golfing destinations:
Florida Holidays mean sun, sea, super-sized fun and superlative golfing resorts. Many offer golf packages for any skill level. And because Florida is America’s top destination state (attracting about 60 million visitors each year), its resorts have a knack for catering to everyone, from honeymoon couples to young families. Soak up a classic Gulf Coast experience at the ever-popular LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort (Condé Nast Traveler readers voted it Florida’s top golf resort in 2012). You could also try the PGA National Resort and Spa for five tournament-level courses and a chance to tackle the ‘Bear Trap’ – the Champion’s 15th, 16th and 17th holes and one of golf’s toughest stretches.
Best for: Something for everyone
There’s something for golfers from Portugal’s sunny southern tip to its top. If you’re basing your Algarve holidays in Faro, why not try one of the top courses nearby? Visitors are welcome at Monte Rei (the first Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Portugal) and Oceânico Golf’s courses (including the Old Course, which opened in 1969 but it still one of the Algarve’s best). Otherwise you could head north to the Vidago Palace Hotel near Chaves. This famed 19th-century spa destination has been restored to splendour as a 5-star hotel and spa, and earned a reputation as one of Europe’s best golfing resorts.
Best for: DIY golf breaks for dads and singles (south) or luxury for couples (north)
Yet another luxury spa-and-golf destination, Cape Town’s Steenberg Hotel is highly rated by golfers for the design of its 18-hole championship course, its golf staff and services. But its also earned kudos for its dining, wine and beautiful setting in a 17th-century vineyard.
Best for: Honeymoon bliss
For golfers, this new home of the high life actually represents top-class courses and facilities at below-UK prices – plus sunshine on tap. Its best courses include the Greg Norman-designed Jumeirah Golf Estates and the Emirates Golf Club, where you can go ‘nightclubbing’ on a floodlit course. Dubai’s choice in apartment accommodation also makes it an ideal golfing destination for groups.
Best for: great value for groups
Where is your favourite place to tee off? Do you agree with my top options? Let me know in the comments below