Golf is a game that is variously considered a pastime, recreation, sport, profession, religion or an obsession. The apparent object is to knock a small hard ball into a designated hole, using only a minimum number of blows of a stick or club, while avoiding the hazards of the terrain such as vegetation, water, soft ground and loose sand. While this may appear frustrating to some, the pleasure that so many people do derive from working out their frustrations in the course of this game means that golf and visiting the golf courses where the game is played is a significant reason for travel.


Golf originated at Saint Andrews, in Scotland. Because of this, Scotland, and in particular the Old Course at St. Andrews, is considered the traditional home of Golf, and the standard to which all other Golf Courses are compared.

Golf spread throughout the British Isles, and by 1829, beyond them with the establishment of the "Royal Calcutta Golf Club" in India. By the end of the 19th Centuary, Clubs in Ireland, The United States of America, and Wales had come together to organise the sport at their respective national levels. Scotland and England followed after the First World War. Golf has two global Governing Bodies, the "R&A" at St Andrew's, Scotland and the "United States Golf Association" which work closely in partnership, for example in agreeing to changes to the "Rules of Golf". This joint approach helps to ensure that golf has not suffered the fate of other sports and split between a "British" sport, (e.g. Soccer and Cricket) and an "American" analogue (e.g. American Football and Baseball). Golf is golf wherever you play in the world, with the same standard rules, which is particularly useful if you want to play the sport outside your own country.

Today, perhaps one of the first two things that developers consider when wanting to attract more tourism to a destination is where to put the (next) golf course to go with the hotel they are wanting to develop.



Golf as we understand it originated in Scotland, although it is probable that ancestor games to modern golf originated on the Continent. However both the insular and continental European golfers do not let such matters divide them too much, when it comes to the Ryder Cup. That biennial trophy succeeds every two years to unify the Europeans in a way that has so far eluded the European Union.

The British Isles remain the main focus of golf in Europe. Throughout the British Isles you will find many good quality courses. The Celtic countries, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, in particular hit above their weight in terms of the courses they offer. This is due to the fact that their extensive coastlines offer ample opportunities to build links courses. Their larger neighbour England also has many fine courses. The most famous course undoubtedly would be the Old Course at St Andrews.

Iberia offers also offers the second most important focus for European Golf. Golf courses have developed in both Spain and Portugal, particularly in coastal areas. Valderama is probably the most famous of the continental courses the venue of the only European Ryder Cup held on Mainland Europe.

Other destinations have also developed golf courses. In France courses seem to be located disproportionately in the West of the country, in particular in Brittany. The Czech Republic for example has seen new courses open since the fall of communism, and the Scandinavian countries offer the opportunity of around the clock golf during the summer months.

In the current economic climate due to the relative weakness of Sterling, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales probably offer better value than Eurozone destinations.


The legendary home of golf and home to the one of the game's two co-governing bodies, the R&A. Scotland and St. Andrews in particular is a must for any golfing enthusiast and is estimated to have around 400 course - not all are open to the public and so the real figure is unknown.

Courses in Scotland include

The Scottish Execitive's official golf tourism website gives details of all courses in Scotland.


See Golf in England for further details.

England has a long golfing history.

Courses include.


Scotland may be the home of golf, but Ireland was in fact the first country to organise golf on a national level. It has been one of the more popular golf destinations in recent years. It's popularity has pushed prices up, and playing golf in Ireland is relatively expensive compared with other destinations.

Famous courses include:-

The Island of Ireland's official golf tourism website gives further details.


Portugal is an important golf destination on the European Mainland.

In this domain Praia d’el Rey Golf & Beach Resort is reputed to be one of Portugal’s finest. Designed by Cabell Robinson, it is a championship course that boasts marvelous fairways and perfectly manicured greens. Even the bunkers are pro-active: left to their own devices, sunbathers tend to stretch out in them, risking the wrath of Caddie Master, Jim Lambert.

Roughs are made rougher by the presence of a sponge-like grass that insidiously attempts to digest anything that lands in it. Jim advises taking the strokes rather than adding up two-digit scores.

From Number 12 through 15, play is overlooking the Atlantic: sometimes windy, always stunning. The last three holes are all uphill to the 18th green and the way is not without potential disaster. A gap to the 16th green is narrow, requiring painstaking accuracy. Further challenge is added by Number 17, a 523-metre hole that is one of the longest Par 5s in Portugal; 17 is regarded as the most difficult hole on the course.

Another important golfing destination in Portugal is the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort, located in Portimão, Algarve. Consisting of three golf courses across the resort, the Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course was in fact the first 18 hole championship course built in the Algarve.

Designed and created by Sir Henry Cotton in 1966, somewhat prestigious events have taken place; Daily Telegraphs Senior's Match Play, National Finals of the Audi Corp and the Portuguese Open. The course at Penina is characterised by a grouping of Par 5s with four of the five arranged together in pairs in the beginning and end of the back nine, therefore producing a Par 38 as opposed to 35.


Spain is the major golf destination on the European mainland. Until 2018, when France will host the Ryder Cup, it will remain the only country in continental Europe, as well as the only non-English-speaking country, to have hosted that event.

Courses in Spain include


See Golf in Turkey for further details. Turkey is a well known golf holiday destination. One popular golf resort is Belek located in Antalya. There are 16 golf courses and 26 5* golf hotels there.


Wales like the other British Isles countries has a long golf history. It has approximately 150 golf clubs.

Wales has often been one of the earlier adopters of innovations in the game. Wales was the third country to start organising golf on a National Level, and indeed in 2007 both Men's and Ladies' golf came under the same organisational umbrella. The Stableford Scoring Systerm, used by most amateur club golfers also originated in Wales.

Wales has produced two Ryder Cup winning captains, Dai Rees and Ian Woosnam. Wales hosted the competition in 2010, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

Despite the prestigious golfing heritage, Wales' courses remain relatively undiscovered by international visitors. This however has its advantages, since it offers the visitor high quality courses, at prices generally lower than elsewhere in Western Europe, and crowding on Welsh fairways is thankfully rare. Wales is growing in popularity as a golfing destination, and the 2010 Ryder Cup is expected to generate further international interest.

The Welsh Assmebly Government's official golf tourism website gives details of all courses in Wales.

The more prestigious Courses in Wales include.


South Africa



See Golf in China


Thailand has about 200 golf courses where more than 100 of them are met international standards. Some of them are even recognized international for outstanding quality and standards.

Nearly 50% of all golf courses are found in and around the city of Bangkok, all reachable within 2–3 hours drive from Bangkok. Generally, courses in Bangkok are highly utilize and cost more than those courses that are further away with the exception of courses in Phuket. As such, golfers without pre-booking are more likely to get tee-off times for courses further away from Bangkok, even during weekdays.

Famous golf courses and more information:



See Golf in Australia

New Zealand

There are over 400 registered New Zealand golf courses from local clubs to internationally renowned golf resorts. These include;

North America


Mountains, oceans and Arctic tundra form the backdrop to challenging fairways and immaculate greens. Celebrated names like Nicklaus, Thompson, Robinson, Furber and Whitman loom large on world-class courses. Play all night under the warm glow of the midnight sun in the Far North. Or putt your way around beautiful Prince Edward Island in full view of the sparkling Atlantic. In Canada, spectacular golfing is just par for the course.

United States of America

The United States is a major golf destination, it has more golf courses than any other country, (approximately 10,000 Golf Courses).

The United States also has a surprisingly long golfing tradition. The formation of the United States Golf Association in 1894 was predated only that of by Ireland's Golf Union. Indeed the United States Golf Association, as well as acting as National Golf Association for the United States, is one of the worldwide game's co-governing bodies.

The United States has for many years produced many of the world's best golfers, and remains a golf superpower, despite recent Ryder Cup defeats to the Europeans. The USA hosts the event in years divisible by 4; the next Ryder Cup to be held in the U.S. will be in 2016 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in suburban Minneapolis. The 2020 and 2024 Ryder Cup sites have already been announced; the 2020 edition will be at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisconsin and the 2024 edition will be at the Bethpage Black Course on Long Island.

Two other major team events are alternately hosted by the U.S. The Solheim Cup is the women's equivalent to the Ryder Cup, featuring teams from the U.S. and Europe. The Presidents Cup is a men's event that features a U.S. team facing an "International" team made up of golfers ineligible for the Ryder Cup. Both events are held in odd-numbered years, and the U.S. hosts both in the year after it hosts the Ryder Cup, meaning that the next editions of both competitions in the U.S. will be in 2017. The next Solheim Cup in the U.S. will be held at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa; the next Presidents Cup in the U.S. will be at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Another major team event, the International Crown for women, was launched in 2014, and takes place in even-numbered years. Unlike the other events mentioned here, the International Crown involves only national teams, with eight participants. The next edition will be in 2016 at Rich Harvest Farms in the far western suburbs of Chicago.

Three of the four major golf tournaments for men, three of the five major tournaments for women, and four of the five major tournaments for men 50 and over are played in the United States. Some of the most famous, and best, courses can be found there.

Florida is an important national and international golf destination. At the other extreme Alaska offers the possibility of late night golf during the summer.


Somewhat surprisingly, challenging courses and major tournaments are hosted in the Caribbean. Some of the main courses include:

South America


See Golf in Argentina for further details.

Golf is an increasingly popular sport in Argentina, thanks in part to the success of Argentinian players such as Angel Cabrera, Andres Romero and Eduardo Romero. There are currently around 280 courses in the country, most located around Buenos Aires and including such well-known names as the Jockey Club, Olivos and Hurlingham. On the Atlantic coast in Mar del Plata are a couple of courses that have held international events, and Patagonia has excellent resort courses such as Llao Lloa, Arelauquen and Chapelco (a Nicklaus design) as well as the 9-hole course in Ushaia.


At larger and more popular courses, the on-course Pro Shop will normally be able to supply all the necessary accessories.


Many golf courses have a Clubhouse that serves meals. Some provide a full service restaurant.


Most Clubhouses have a bar; such establishments are colloquially known as the 19th hole.

Stay safe

Golf is the sort of game that can be played in all sorts of weather conditions, especially if one wants a challenging game. However, lightning and severe storms are contraindications for safe play.

Consider golf insurance. This will pay out in the event of a hole-in-one, or if you injure other golfers.


If you use a caddies (and in many places you have no choice), you may be expected to tip them. In other places tipping is not permitted. You should ask when you book your round what the expected tip is.

Go next

Once you have finished playing be sure to clean your equipment. If you are crossing borders with your gear be sure to declare it, particularly where countries have biosecurity controls to limit the importation of equipment that has been in contact with farmland and the like. Otherwise you might find you are delayed while the equipment is cleaned, or worse, confiscated.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, December 18, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.