10 Must-Play European Tour Stops
By Jonathan Alden
It’s always fun to play where the pros play, and with the wide range of venues on the European Tour, following in their footsteps means playing in some awesome destinations. Make sure to book a round if you find yourself in close proximity to any of the following European Tour stops:
Leopard Creek, South Africa, Alfred Dunhill Championship
Just south of Kruger National Park, Leopard Creek Country Club is an exhilarating combination of championship golf and full-blown safari that exemplifies everything that makes South Africa such a great golf destination. The course, host to the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Championship since 2005, winds through the bushveld along the aptly-named Crocodile River.
Tip: Unless you know a member, you have to stay at a nearby safari lodge to play the course, making it an even more unforgettable experience.
Emirates Golf Club, United Arab Emirates, Omega Dubai Desert Classic
The first grass course in the Middle East plays host to the Dubai Desert Classic each year and the facility can only be described as regal. Combine the perfectly manicured layout, which provides a stunning contrast to the sandy terrain, with the towering skyline that rises above the Bedouin tent clubhouse, and you have a golfing experience like no other.
Tip: Don’t fill your Dubai itinerary with just golf, there are too many other interesting things to see and do.
Bro Hof Slott, Sweden, KLM Open
The European tour heads back to the recently opened (2007) Swedish gem after a two-year hiatus and I can’t help but envision the course as a future Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup host. The beautiful Lake Mälaren is the star of the show at Bro Hof Slott, and designer Robert Trent Jones created a series of lakeside holes that will take your breath away.
Tip: The back tees stretch to over 8,000 yards so please, please tee it forward.
Castle Stuart, Scotland, Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open
A recent addition to the Highlands’ golfing pedigree, Castle Stuart offers more generous fairways than many of its older Scottish counterparts, but the design has plenty of teeth. The course opened in 2009 and is already set to host its fourth Scottish Open, quite an amazing feat. Together with such gems as Royal Dornoch and Nairn, Castle Stuart has helped turn the Scottish Highlands into one of the premier golfing destinations in the British Isles.
Tip: Mix in a few distillery visits while in the heart of Scotland’s famous whisky-producing region.
Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland, European Masters
Location, location, location. It is amazing that the European Masters doesn’t attract more of the world’s top players considering the host course is arguably the most spectacular venue for tournament golf in the world. The club’s “Seve” course isn’t easy, but panoramic views of the Swiss Alps will ease the pain of any wayward shot.
Tip: Don’t keep score, focus on picture-taking and soaking in the sights.
K Club, Ireland, Ryder Cup and Irish Open
The crown jewel of Ireland’s most lavish golf resort, the course played host to the thrashing of the US team by Europe at the 2006 Ryder Cup. There is nary a blade of grass out of place on this lush layout, and the serene River Liffey comes into play on a number of holes, so make sure to bring your A-game.
Tip: Supplement your stay with rounds at nearby Portmarnock and the European Club.
Carya Golf Club, Turkey, Turkish Airlines Open
The European Tour’s move to the Antalya resort later this year proves that designer Peter Thompson was successful in bringing heathland golf to the Mediterranean coast. The can’t-miss experience at Carya, though, begins after dark when the floodlights at Europe’s first fully-lit golf course turn on to create a unique, nighttime golfing experience.
Tip: Even if you are not a night owl, schedule a round under the lights. It is such an awesome experience!
Gary Player Golf Club, South Africa, Nedbank Golf Challenge
Located at the Sun City Resort (South Africa’s version of Las Vegas) a few hours northwest of Johannesburg, the course plays as one of the longest and toughest tracks in all of South Africa and has hosted the Nedbank Golf Challenge since 1981. The fantastic layout and luxurious hotel options make it a fantastic golf destination in the heart of the Rainbow Nation.
Tip: Add a round on the nearby Lost City course, home of the fearsome Crocodile pit.
The Grove, England, British Masters
The Grove makes this list in part because I like to see the European Tour move to a completely public golf course. The Kyle Phillips design (think Kingsbarns) is just outside of London and features fantastic green complexes that are almost always in great shape. As host of Tiger’s win in the 2006 American Express Championship and now the 2016 British Masters, the course has clearly established itself as an up-and-coming championship test.
Tip: The driving areas are very forgiving so hit the big stick.
Le Golf Nacional, France, Open de France
The club’s Albatross course has served as host of the French Open since 1991 and is set to host the 2018 Ryder Cup. The course incorporates a smorgasbord of design characteristics, creating a great mix of both links and lakeside holes. With the Paris city-center less than an hour away, it fits nicely into the most popular French itineraries.
Tip: The course’s popularity will continue to escalate as we lead up to the 2018 Ryder Cup so get there soon.
This article was also published on The Golf News Net and can be found here.