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When the wind changes direction, the Hebridean island of Islay smells like whiskey. Dotted with nine distilleries, the island’s climate makes it prime peat territory, as well as an ideal ground for links courses – the finest of which is found at The Machrie Hotel.
Created in 1891 – and redesigned in 2018 – its championship golf course is considered one of the best in Europe, and the hotel itself follows suit. Comprising 47 rooms, suites and lodges, its snow-colored walls rise majestically from the rugged dunes and lord over seven miles of sand-swept beach.
Inside, clean-lined, modern interiors are accented with a tasteful amount of golf memorabilia, and the hotel’s Hebridean heritage is subtly referenced through touches of tartan and a huge, antler-shaped chandelier.
Ask for: a whiskey tasting in the nearby Bunnahabhain Distillery, where you’ll sample four drams while surrounded by aging casks.
Despite some claims from the Netherlands, it is generally accepted that golf was invented in Scotland, with ‘gowf’ first recorded in 1457, when an edict from King James II listed it as a distraction from archery for military purposes.
For those wanting to experience true golfing history, the Old Course Hotel offers rooms overlooking the famous 17th hole at St Andrews, reputedly the most difficult par 4 in the world and the star of Ryder Cup and British Open events.
Ask for: the Old Course suites, directly above the world-famous 17th hole.
After its recent reconstruction by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio, the course at Adare Manor now ranks among the best in the world. Designed to accentuate the 340 hectares of lush, rolling landscape and sweeping banks of the River Maguire, the course was voted the country’s best at the 2021 World Golf Awards. And the hotel itself, a classic five-star luxury country manor house, was voted Ireland’s favorite hotel by the Irish Independent.
Ask for: a hydrating facial massage at the new 111SKIN spa; the brand’s first Irish outpost.
The United States boasts countless iconic golf courses – but for something truly unique, this par 72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Course offers a challenging ‘lavascape’, weaving through the black volcanic rock that forms this dramatic coastline. Most spectacular is the famous seventh hole, where you tee off from the highest point on the course, playing down towards the ocean through a collapsed lava tube.
Ask for: the Hawaii Loa Presidential Suite, a majestic two-story villa set on the oceanfront, with indoor and outdoor dining spaces – the resort’s most prestigious accommodation. You might even spot humpback whales during their seasonal migration.
With two par 72 courses designed by Ryder Cup star Neil Coles and former Spanish Open winner Angel Gallardo, the five-star Hotel Camiral is the choice destination for golf enthusiasts in Spain.
Its Stadium Course has been ranked the country’s best for six consecutive years, while its wellness packages are also hugely recommended. Set within the stunning Catalan countryside, gourmands will also want to explore nearby Girona, with its wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Ask for: a glass of wine from the hotel’s own organic vineyard at its 1477 restaurant.
Once the chosen resort for the England soccer squad before their home games at Wembley, The Grove is set within 121 hectares of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, the restored former home of the Earls of Clarendon.
Its golf course is one of the most prestigious in England, having hosted the British Masters in 2016 as well as a 2006 World Golf Championship event, won by Tiger Woods.
Ask for: one of the many outdoor activities, including the Bear Grylls survival camp, laser clay pigeon shooting, woodland hawking, tree climbing, archery and a first-class football coaching course with UEFA-level coaches.
For an experience unlike any other, how about a round at the world’s highest 18-hole golf course – just a 10-minute walk (and a ride on the famous gondola ski lift) from Gulmarg’s first five-star luxury hotel – situated at an elevation of 2,690 meters. This is truly playing in the clouds with stunning views over the Pir Panjal range and the snowcapped Affarwat peaks of the Himalayas.
Ask for: a picnic to take with you for a trek through the valleys of this Kashmiri hill station. You can also enjoy some of Asia’s finest ski slopes in winter.