THERE IS LITTLE MORE SERENITY TO BE FOUND THAN IN THE EXPANSIVE SURROUNDINGS OF A VERDANT GOLF COURSE. WE LOOK AT HOW YOU CAN FIND YOURSELF TEEING OFF IN THE LAP OF LUXURY ON SOME OF THE GLOBE’S MOST ICONIC COURSES.
By JAKE TAYLOR
It seems these days that moments of peace and quiet are increasingly hard to find. One place, however, continues to eschew the 21st century tradition for a breakneck pace of life to remain a lush oasis in an increasingly mechanised world: the golf course.
Be it surrounded by acres of bountiful woodland or dotted with incredible natural landmarks in a far-off corner of the globe, the golf course has continued to provide a space in which to unwind over 18 holes in relative intimacy.
Global golf has steadfastly marched on to new heights of luxury. The following companies are ready and willing to whisk you away to the most beautiful courses the world has to offer – including those regularly trod by the cleat-heeled feet of the crème de la crème of the professional game.
With five-star hotels, private travel and quality tuition on hand, these operators are changing the face of the golf holiday landscape and providing fans of the game with hitherto unprecedented access to the courses of champions – and the bespoke sporting vacation of a lifetime.
From the sprawling courses of British Columbia to the site of Captain Cook’s original Australian landing, these companies are ever-ready to whisk you away to the most inspiring destinations in your quest for the perfect game. From helicopter travel between courses to wine tasting along the way, they’ve got every aspect covered. In fact, the only concerns you’ll be having when it comes to playing your dream greens will be: when, where and which club?
KEEPING THINGS LOCAL
If you’re looking to enjoy all the top golfing locations that Canada and its neighbouring nations have to offer, Luxury Golf Escapes would be an excellent place to start. This company provides a host of tours that cover eastern and western Canada, Miami, Las Vegas and Hawaii, and Mexico too – all designed to offer the discerning driver a bespoke package that sees them visit some of North and Central America’s most celebrated courses.
The Canada Royal East Coast Tour, for example, gives players access to some of the country’s most prized seaside courses. Beginning at Nova Scotia’s Cabot Links – where the PGA Championship of Canada takes place – the tour also encompasses Brudenelle and Anderson’s Creek Golf Clubs, and Links at Crowbush Cove. Private jet travel between courses and luxury limo or rental car options are available, and at around $2,190 CAD per person, this tour has just one thing in mind: getting as many rounds of golf in as possible in the most stylish of surroundings.
Across the border to the south, the package that really stands out from the crowd is the incredible Las Vegas VIP Luxury Golf Experience. You and your group can bed down in the iconic Bellagio – with a luxury fountain view penthouse suite, and access to some of Sin City’s hottest nightspots, included for around $12,693 CAD per person. And what about the golf? You’ll be whisked via private limo to some of Nevada’s top courses, with the PGA-rated TPC Las Vegas, the Nicklaus-designed Bear’s Best, and the prestigious and utterly exclusive Shadow Creek – the favoured greens for the American elite from George Bush Sr. to Michael Jordan.
When it comes to the company’s worldwide access, however, the possibilities are almost endless. As well as the incredible “Emerald Isle” Luxury Heli Golf Tour, hitting some of Ireland’s greatest greens via private helicopter and priced at around $13,895 CAD per person, they offer the chance to sample some of Asia’s finest courses. At around $8,420 CAD, the Mission Hills Luxury Golf Tour takes players to the 12-course Shenzhen resort – one of the most unusual and serene spots in the world for any enthusiast to tee off.
If luxury limos just don’t tick all the boxes when it comes to your dream golfing tour, then Kalos Golf may have the answer. In 1994, the California-based company introduced the idea of the golf cruise – and now offers a host of incredible ocean-going adventures to some of the world’s most premium courses, from the Danube River and the Iberian Peninsula to South Africa and the mystical Americas.
Kicking off the pick of this year’s Kalos itinerary a little closer to home is their tour of the Canadian Maritimes aboard the impressive Silver Explorer, the member of the Kalos fleet designed with the navigation of secluded waters in mind. On the agenda are the Highlands Links, Cabot Links, Cabot Cliffs, Fox Harb’r and Crowbush Cove courses, with each fairway merging seamlessly with the rugged scenery of the islands.
But while the resorts may be remote, the Silver Explorer ensures you arrive in the utmost style. With an ocean-view suite, in-suite bar and butler, you’ll be able to relax between each tee time, and the on-board menus – inspired by the gastronomical invention of London’s Relais & Chateaux – ensure you’ll be raring to go as soon as you arrive. Spacious decks and panoramic windows allow guests to get an unrivalled view of their pristine surroundings, while the fleet of smaller Zodiac craft and a dedicated Expedition Team mean you’ll be able to visit any location you desire along the way, no matter how far off the beaten path.
The Canadian Maritimes tour will take place from September 13th-24th this year, with prices starting from $14,853 CAD per person.
If your quest for great golfing necessitates traversing the Atlantic, then Kalos has that covered too. Two of the more impressive European adventures on offer are the Riviera and Bordeaux Golf & Wine cruises. The former of these whisks guests away to some of the continent’s most coveted destinations, with Cannes, Monte Carlo, St Tropez and even Lake Como all available to visit, where you and your party can enjoy the best courses on offer along the stunning, sun-soaked coastlines of France, Italy, Sardinia and Corsica.
Topping off this unique expedition through a selection of Europe’s beauty spots is the chance to travel between courses aboard the Sea Cloud II. It is the most exclusive ship with space for just 94 passengers on board, but it is perhaps the most striking of the Kalos fleet. With billowing white sails and a marble and wood interior design, the craft is sure to add a whole new element of traditional seafaring elegance to your journey around the Riviera. This expedition takes place from September 15th-25th. Prices start at $11,063 CAD per passenger.
Some 700km-plus away, on the opposite coast, the Bordeaux Golf & Wine tour explores one of Europe’s most iconic winemaking regions. Passing through Bordeaux, Cadillac, Chateau de Vigiers and Biarritz, this expedition ends in San Sebastian in an effortless combination of culture and golf. Aboard the 74-cabin AmaDolce, guests can take full advantage of the vessel’s numerous French balconies to drink in their stunning surroundings – as well as the region’s world-famous vintages. This tour takes place from May 14th-25th and costs around $12,000 CAD per person.
Of course, the game of golf isn’t just confined to Europe and America – and Kalos caters for those wishing to go even further afield with an expedition to one of the game’s most remarkable locations: the New Zealand Golf Tour brings together the varied landscapes of both islands – from fjords to rainforests; mountains to farmland – while also giving guests the opportunity to tee off at a wide selection of Oceania’s prized courses.
Included in the itinerary are Queenstown, Jack’s Point Golf Course, The Hills Golf Club, Napier, Keri, Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs. The latter two of these provided the backdrop for the 2008 and 2009 Kiwi Challenge, the nation’s PGA Tour Challenge which featured four of the top PGA players under the age of 30. There’s even an option to extend your tour to neighbouring Australia and Tasmania if you so desire. This tour runs from November 27th to December 6th – prices start at $17,971 CAD per person.
However, Kalos’ most recent addition to the expeditions available may well be its most impressive. The Best of South America Golf Tour spans a staggering seven destinations including Barbados, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. Featuring some of the finest courses in the Americas – if not the world – this 20-day trip includes everything from the sun-kissed exclusivity of Sandy Lane, pride of the Caribbean’s golfers, to Rio’s Olympic Course and Olivos, Argentina’s number one course without compare.
Guests are invited aboard a custom-configured Boeing 757 when travelling between destinations, and while the proposition of golfing among some of the world’s most verdant and tropical locations is attractive to say the least, culturally, too, the South American surroundings provide a rich wealth of sites in which to indulge – not least a guided tour of Peru’s iconic Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Inca citadel which stands on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres above the Sacred Valley.
This un-missable opportunity takes place from October 1st-20th, with prices starting at around $125,833 CAD per person. With the effortless blend of South American history, lush landscapes and quality courses on offer, this tour undoubtedly lays a heavy claim to the title of the world’s most unique golfing holiday.
Another company which is undeniably able to rival Kalos, however, is Connoisseur Golf. Based at the undisputed ‘Home of Golf’ in Scotland, Connoisseur pride themselves on offering every inch of Scotland and Ireland’s rich golfing heritage in a way that is tailored to every interested individual’s needs. With all tours available for alteration, the Connoisseur creation begins with the client’s own professed dream itinerary, adds in a host of restaurants and hotels at the cutting edge of gastronomy and hospitality, and ends with all guests securing tee times at some of the game’s longest-serving courses in a way that can work around busy work schedules and corporate commitments.
But even among the sterling packages that Connoisseur prides itself on providing, one trip really draws the eye: the High End X 8 Scotland and Ireland Heli-Golf Tour.
“Heli-golf allows you to base yourself at the hotel of your choice and helicopter to and from golf with no requirement for long ground transfers,” explains the company’s Jim Stewart. “In some instances it also affords our clients the opportunity to play two rounds of golf in one day at remote locations. This shortens the overall duration of the trip and is particularly popular with businessmen who don’t have the opportunity to spend a whole week abroad. Another upside is that you can easily switch between Scotland and Ireland without the need to waste time at an airport.
“We have a very impressive list which includes institutions such as the PGA of America and Stanford University to individuals such as Rudi Giuliani, Graeme McDowell and Ken Griffey Jr.”
Running from August 6th-12th at a cost of $33,946 per person, this tour is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet. There’s the obvious draw of surveying the rugged beauty of Scotland and Ireland from an AgustaWestland AW109S Grand capable of hitting 311km/h, for example. Or the fact that the accommodation and culinary delights on offer are second to none, and throughout the trip there are complimentary drinks and spa breaks provided – as well as the option of a private 90-minute tasting session at the world-famous Guinness Brewery in Dublin.
The journey begins at Prestwick Golf Club, where guests can see the small stone cairn that marks the historic spot where the very first Open Championship tee shot was struck in 1860. The first tees are both located in the esteemed Trump Turnberry estate – the Ailsa and newly formed Kintyre Championship courses, the former of which is situated on Ailsa Craig, a volcanic island over half-a-billion years old. Dinner at Souter’s Inn – which brings together some of the finest local ingredients from all over Scotland – and a night at the five-star Trump hotel at Turnberry round off the day.
The next stop is at one of Britain’s most remote courses: the Machrihanish Golf Club. An Old Tom Morris-designed World Top 100 Course, Machrihanish is considered to have one of the best opening holes of any course in the world. Later in the day, guests are whisked to the Championship Course at Royal Troon, where you and your party can play from the same tees where Henrik Stenson beat Phil Mickelson to the Claret Jug with a record -20 at the 2016 Open.
The crossing to Ireland is completed in the AW109S, where you arrive at the Royal Portrush Golf Club to try your hand on the Dunluce Links – proposed site of the 2019 Open and recently voted No. 1 Links Course in Ireland by Backspin magazine. If competing in the craggy beauty of County Antrim works up your appetite, the gastronomical accompaniment to this initial stopover in Ireland involves a ‘Chef’s Table’ being put together for your party by one of Northern Island’s top culinary minds at the Mermaid Kitchen and Bar.
But any golfing journey to Ireland would be incomplete without a trip to the Royal County Down Golf Club, currently ranked World Number 1 in the Golf Digest Top 100 courses. Not only does a visit to the Championship Links allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural landscape, but also tests your skills against some of the most iconic holes in the global game, including the ninth hole – a 486-yard par 4 which is played from one side of a huge knoll down onto the fairway some 60ft below and over 250 yards from the tee.
And how to end such a tour? The final games are played at the centuries-old Portmanock Golf Club on the Irish coastline, where 19 Irish Open Championships have been staged. Follow in the famed footsteps of Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead who claimed victory here in the 1960 Canada Cup, or Phil Mickelson and David Duval who scored a Walker Cup Triumph on this course in 1991. Having trod one of the game’s most heritage-rich links, the final meal comes courtesy of a Marco Pierre White branded restaurant.
With the ability to travel to the four corners of the earth in your quest to play the same courses as your golfing heroes, there’s never been a better time to plan your journey. The only question, really, is how you get there – by land, sea, or air?