China is driving to tap into the golf tourism market and already boasts the world’s biggest golfing complex. It is one of many up-and-coming destinations challenging the established favourites.
Top destination: Spain
What’s the appeal? The Costa del Sol has long been the biggest golf holiday destination for British golfers, especially in winter when their home courses are waterlogged or under snow. Courses are not cheap, but it is the sheer choice and quality which win out, and the fact that it is familiar holiday territory. It is great, and usually a better value, golf in other areas including Murcia, Costa Blanca, Costa Dorada and Costa Brava.
Up and coming: Turkey
What’s the appeal? Turkey’s rising star is the resort of Belek, on the southern Mediterranean coast near Antalya. With the opening of the new LykiaLinks and Papillon courses this year, it will have nine.
Top destination: Dubai
What’s the appeal? Dubai has taken the golfing world by storm in the past 10 or so years thanks to its array of top-quality courses – among them the Emirates Golf Club which hosts the annual Dubai Desert Classic – and upmarket resort hotels, plus guaranteed winter sun. The momentum is continuing with new courses set to double its portfolio within four or five years.
Up and coming: Egypt
What’s the appeal? One of the fastest-growing golf destinations, Egypt now has nearly 20 courses in the Red Sea area, around Cairo and in the Mediterranean. You can even tee off in the shadow of the pyramids of Giza. Golf is year-round, and Peltours now features holidays including golf at the new Taba Heights course in the Sinai.
Top destination: Arizona
What’s the appeal? Winner of the North America golf destination of the year honour for 2008 at the golf industry’s Oscars, the Iagto Awards, Arizona is a golfer’s paradise with more than 300 courses. The US National Golf Foundation dubbed Phoenix the “Golf Capital of the World” and Scottsdale has become synonymous with golf for its quality of facilities, variety and weather. Tucson is another favourite area.
Up and coming:
British Columbia, Canada
What’s the appeal? The province has established a growing reputation due to its wide spread of courses, ranging from Vancouver Island, where it is possible to play all year, to the Okanagan wine region and ski resorts in the Rockies.
Top destination: Bermuda
What’s the appeal? Boasting more golf courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, Bermuda packs in eight golf courses with an appeal to golfers of all abilities, from the par-three course at the Fairmont Southampton to the hallowed turf of the Mid Ocean Club. With its pink beaches, British heritage and balmy weather, the island is a perennial favourite with British golfers.
Up and coming: Mexico
What’s the appeal? Great quality golf within easy reach of beach resorts on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts underline the growing reputation of Mexico, which won the Iagto Award for Latin America and Caribbean destination of the year in 2007.
Top destination: Thailand
What’s the appeal? More than 200 courses and incredible value golf, with rounds costing as little as #10-#15 and caddies from just #3, make Thailand a Far East favourite. There are courses in and around Bangkok and in many popular resort areas.
Up and coming: China
What’s the appeal? The dragon is awakening as a golf destination, as was underlined by the recent World Cup held at the world’s biggest golf complex, Mission Hills. Just across the border from Hong Kong, it makes an ideal golf add-on. Beach destination Sanya offers excellent golf combined with beach stays.
Top destination: Mauritius
What’s the appeal? Year-round golf under tropical skies, beautiful beaches, lavish resort hotels and some of the finest golf courses you will find anywhere have propelled Mauritius to the fore as a golf destination. New courses continue to be added including the latest, by South Africa’s Ernie Els, in the north.
Up and coming: Tunisia
What’s the appeal? With its mild winters and well-established reputation as a good-value and good-quality holiday destination, Tunisia is seeing more interest in its golf courses. They now number 12 at 10 clubs, ranging from beach resort destinations to the desert.
While there is a common perception that specialist golf operators only sell direct, the following members of IAGTO, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, also sell through agents:
1st Tee Golfing Holidays www.1sttee.co.uk
A Golfing Experience www.agolfingexperience.com
Alternative Travel & Holidays www.turkishgolf.com