Perfect your swing at these dreamy golf courses around the Mediterranean.
Terras Da Comporta, Portugal
- What makes it special? It’s the first European mainland design by David McLay Kidd, who designed the Castle Course at St Andrews.
- The golf: An hour south of Lisbon, the Dunas Course was, after years of anticipation, officially opened to the public in June 2022 and the buzz has been backed up by reality. The US-based Scot’s most famous design is the spectacular Bandon Dunes in Oregon, and the Dunas has similarly been inspired by the architect’s Scottish roots. Sited on the edge of the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, it sneaks through pine forest with fairways fringed by the native sand dunes and the sound of waves crashing in from the Atlantic Ocean echoing through the trees.
- Other attractions: A second course, the Torre, has been designed by the Spanish Ryder Cup star Sergio Garcia and is currently being constructed. There is also horse riding, sailing and wellness facilities, as well as a comprehensive range of hotels, tourist and residential condominiums.
West Cliffs, Portugal
- What makes it special? Breathtaking views across the Atlantic from all 18 holes.
- The golf: It took Cynthia Dye – the niece of Pete Dye who designed TPC Sawgrass – 14 years to craft this stunning course on Portugal’s Silver Coast, an hour north of Lisbon. It was a labour of love but worth every minute of the wait. The location is outstanding with sand dunes sweeping across the rugged clifftops and between verdant forest, high above the Atlantic Ocean. It is visually demanding from the tee box but enormously playable, with superb greens, beautifully contoured fairways and a fun set of short holes.
- Other attractions: The resort is currently under construction but the course is managed by the nearby Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort which offers its own championship course, plus tennis, padel, hiking and world-class waves for surfing.
- What makes it special? Named Europe’s Best Golf Venue at the World Golf Awards three times in a row from 2019.
- The golf: INFINITUM boasts three distinct courses an hour south of Barcelona on the Costa Dorada, with the two 18-hole layouts hosting the DP World Tour’s annual Qualifying School. The Greg Norman-designed Lakes Course is the premier test, demanding bold shot selection and committed execution because the ever-present threat of water extends beyond the 14 lakes to the Sequia Major wetlands, which shares the property. Its connections with elite-level professional competition is no coincidence – the resort’s practice facilities are among the very best in Europe.
- Other attractions: The Hills Course ventures between the pine forest and seaside cliffs while the 9-hole Ruins Course twists through Roman archaeological ruins. There is also a beach club and an outstanding selection of restaurants that specialise in local produce.
Finca Cortesin, Spain
- What makes it special? Extravagant opulence and host of this year’s Solheim Cup.
- The golf: The esteemed US architect Cabell Robinson was tasked to produce a course with no hole of less than championship standard and he completed this project. An extraordinary golfing adventure plunges from hilltop to valley floor with a series of thrilling holes that are always overlooked by the Sierra Bermeja mountains with permanent views out across the Costa del Sol. A multi-million-dollar renovation of the greens completed last year has taken the course to another level and it will host the biennial match between the best of Europe and America’s women golfers this month. The practice facilities include a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy.
- Other attractions: The resort is spectacularly lavish and luxurious, built in a traditional Andalusian finca style with suites, villas, a spa and a beach club on the Mediterranean.
- What makes it special? Mallorca’s finest course, conceived and owned by the Porsche family.
- The golf: Incredibly, Alcanada is the only coastal course on the popular golfing island of Mallorca and the opportunity for superb vistas of the Med was not wasted by the designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. The course journeys through olive groves and pine forest, climbs rolling hills and descends to the Bay of Alcudia. You’ll also encounter rustic buildings and an iconic lighthouse.
- Other attractions: This is a course rather than a resort and one good enough to regularly host the Challenge Tour’s Grand Final. Unsurprisingly, it has practice facilities that players hoping to graduate to the DP World Tour would expect.
San Domenico, Italy
- What makes it special? A stunning hotel that feels otherworldly in its beauty and high quality.
- The golf: This selection is very much a double header. San Domenico provides the golf – it’s a course on the Adriatic Coast in the Italian region of Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s a modern, wind-blown test set between the sea and olive groves with wide fairways and rolling greens.
- Other attractions: The second part of this pick is the hotel across the road, Borgo Egnazia. Its tagline is “Nowhere Else” and this hits the nail on the head because this is a truly unique and extraordinary venue, one which prompts dazzled residents to shake their heads in wonder and excitement. Inspired by a typical Pugliese village, it is almost impossible to believe it has not been there for centuries. It feels like another world – a simpler, better and more fantastic one.
Costa Navarino, Greece
- What makes it special? Sensational views of the Peloponnese coastline.
- The golf: Which layout to select at this luxury venue that has quickly established itself as one of the world’s finest since opening in 2010? We’ll go with the Bay Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, which has two holes that fringe the historic Bay of Navarino and 16 that climb the slopes to provide panoramic views of the sea and mountains. A treat for the eyes and a very fine test for golfers of all standards.
- Other attractions: Many resorts have multiple courses, but very few have so many superb ones. The resort’s other three options were designed by two-time Masters champions. Bernhard Langer was responsible for the Dunes and Jose Maria Olazabal for the world’s first International Olympics Academy Golf Course and the Hills. The resort has four five-star hotels, spas and state-of- the-art sport facilities. A new Mandarin Oriental hotel also opened here in August.
- What makes it special? The finest test in a resort with so many exceptional options.
- The golf: In the early 1990s, there was not one golf course in the town of Belek in Turkey and now there are close to 20. Carya is the best of them, however, and has hosted three editions of the DP World Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open. It feels a little like a classic American or English parkland track with wooded fairways, heather-edged fairway and undulating greens protected by white sand bunkers. It was also the first course in Europe to become fully floodlit.
- Other attractions: The Regnum Carya not only has a wide beach and multiple pools but also the Aquaworld water theme park. The hotel has hosted concerts by artists including Tom Jones, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo and Dua Lipa.
Words: Matthew Cooper