EUROPEAN TOP PICKS
Thursday, 19 January 2023
Simon Hurd’s must-visit European golf destinations
We sat down with SGH Co-Founder Simon Hurd to get the lowdown on his must-visit golf destinations across Europe in 2023.
2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year for golf on the continent, so we thought we would take you through some of our favourite destinations to play golf abroad in Europe. From this year’s Solheim and Ryder Cup action, to the idyllic Aphrodite Hills, we’ll be taking you through each destination, as we highlight some left-field selections alongside this year’s must-see European golfing destinations.
Finca Cortesin - Spain
Our first selection is at the very forefront of Spanish and European golf, the Andalusian resort of Finca Cortesin. It came as no surprise when it was selected as the host destination for this year’s Solheim Cup, and rightfully received the coveted accolades of ‘Europe’s Best Golf Venue’, ‘Spain’s Best Golf Course’, and ‘Spain’s Best Golf Hotel’ at this year’s World Golf Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi. With the ladies’ game growing in leaps and bounds, next year’s Solheim Cup is a must visit for anyone who wants to experience the very best in the game going toe-to-toe for the most coveted prize in the sport.
It is no secret as to why Spain has been a much-loved favourite for golf tourism over the years, and Finca Cortesin’s plaudits and awards speak for themselves. The three-time Volvo Matchplay host course treats players and spectators to a view like no other, as the white-washed homes dotted all over the Andalusian mountains make for a typically rustic landscape. This aspect perfectly complements the challenge in-hand on the course, with each hole designed and built with consistent quality throughout.
By night, visitors are spoilt for choice in nearby Estepona, where exceptional seafood, tapas and wine are plentiful in many of the seaside town’s backstreet bodegas, and its better known port. For nightcaps and late-night activity, Marbella and Puerto Banus are only a short taxi journey away.
Aphrodite Hills - Cyprus
Since opening in 2002, Aphrodite Hills has proven to be an attractive destination for both the European Tour and golfers opting for guaranteed sunshine in Cyprus’ Paphos region.
Those who play will be greeted with an olive tree-lined course, laden with character. Holes 3 and 7 present a magnificent challenge across the front nine, either side of the landscaped chasm which resides in the middle of the course. The resort, named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite, is accessed via a magnificent coastal road from nearby Paphos. Picturesque views can be enjoyed as you make your way around the course, with especially breath-taking ones up for grabs on the 8th and 15th.
Fantastic weather is almost always guaranteed (famous last words!), which makes Aphrodite Hills an absolute must for anyone wanting to explore the very finest in Cypriot golfing destinations. The island of Paphos itself has so much to offer, but most notably it’s warm hospitality and cultural heritage, which makes this an extremely exciting option, ticking all of the boxes for quality golf, food, drink and exploration.
Put simply, ten-time Scandinavian Masters and 2003 Solheim Cup host course Barsebäck is one of the very best places to play golf in Scandinavia. Located outside of Malmo, and with sea views of the Öresund, the strait, which connects both Copenhagen and Malmo, is one of the busiest waterways in the world. It is alongside this well-trodden waterway that one of Sweden’s most beautiful golf courses lies.
Long lauded by many of the game’s legends (as far back as the 1980s, by a certain Mr. Jack Nicklaus) Barsebäck can pride itself on being a course kept in the most impeccable of conditions and offering such variety in its landscape and make up. It is in rare company, due to its varied and unique layout which presents an unusual challenge to competitors who are often greeted by the misty sea fog which creeps through the pine woodlands. By design, it is part-Links and part-parkland, as well as part-woodland.
Malmo has plenty to offer outside of Barsebäck’s fantastic setting. Only 10 minutes from the course, Stortoget is a square often visited by many during the Scandinavian Masters. A local hotspot for food and drink, it’s our tip for anyone looking to enjoy Malmo’s fantastic bars and restaurants.
Marco Simone, Italy
The eyes of the golfing world will be on Rome next year, for a Ryder Cup that promises to deliver theatre, battle and a Team Europe group who will be looking to put their memories of the previous Ryder Cup behind them. The setting could not be more fitting; gladiatorial performances will be guaranteed in a city steeped in history and culture. European Tour competitor Eddie Pepperell told Golf Digest that this is the perfect setting, “they’ve thought about the fans. There are plenty of high spots around the greens, creating amphitheatres.”
Located 10 minutes outside of Rome, there is truly no better place to watch the pinnacle of team golf competition where the elite of the USA and Europe will do battle. Outside of any on-course action, Rome speaks for itself as a bucket list location to visit. Boundless options are available as far as exploring this amazing city is concerned. From visiting showstopping cultural landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Vatican City to hidden side street foodie feasting all over the city. By night, Trastevere and Testaccio are lively neighbourhoods which are certainly worth a visit - and Pasta e Vino is our hot tip for any purveyors of pasta who finds themselves looking for an amazing evening bite in this area.
It’s no surprise that golf has been growing exponentially in Turkey over the last number of years, and courses such as Carya are the exact reason why. It is often touted as one of the world’s best winter golfing destinations boasting over 320 days of sunshine each year. Set on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Carya is the first course in Europe to offer fully floodlit night-play for its visitors and members, also made possible by its warm climate throughout the evening.
Make no mistake, Carya is phenomenal to play and was designed by Peter Thomson, one of only four men to have lifted the Claret jug five times at The British Open. The quality of its design and keeping are testament to its status as a seven-time European Tour host venue, where Justin Rose has found success on two occasions.
Located near the Taurus Mountains, Carya is located in Belek, which is approximately 30km outside of Antalya. It’s an incredible destination for wellness, Mediterranean cuisine and - yes you guessed it - sunshine. From unwinding on Belek’s wide white sandy beaches to indulging in the most wonderful Turkish cuisine, it makes our list as a must-visit for anyone wanting guaranteed sunshine on their golfing getaway.
We hope you enjoyed reading about 5 of Simon Hurd’s must-visit European golf destinations. If you would like to hear more about some of the packages we can offer for group golfing getaways to any of these locations, or our packages for 2023’s Solheim Cup, or Ryder Cup, get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com