Most of us are creatures of habit and prefer to return to a familiar place rather than opt for somewhere new, but it’s a big world out there, so here’s some food for thought.
Oman is one of the least known, yet most exciting destinations in the Middle East. It’s quite different from some of its more illustrious neighbours - low-key and relaxed, yet offering some breath-taking natural beauty and fascinating culture. Summers are hot and humid so the climate makes golfing most popular between September-May.
Oman’s capital Muscat offers the highest standard of Arabian-style hotels and has three 18-hole courses all within easy reach of each other.
Closest to Muscat International Airport is the Greg Norman-designed course at Al Mouj Golf Club which this year hosted Oman’s first European Tour event. This links-style course runs alongside over two kilometres of beach, so the Sea of Oman and Hajar Mountains are visible from everywhere on the course.
Similarly Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club boasts sea views and a spectacular backdrop of the Al Hajar Mountains. The course is landscaped in and around the natural wadi (dry riverbed) with generous fairways and challenging shots over the wadis and ravines that criss-cross the course.
The snug fit into the valley of Ghala Valley Golf Club makes for some narrow and challenging fairways, requiring more skill than power. There’s plenty of bird life at Ghala with resident herons often spending their day cooling down in the 18th hole pond.
Arguably the most famous landmark is the Grand Mosque and you can get cultural at the Royal Opera House. The coast is lined with soft sand beaches and a highlight off shore is whale and dolphin watching. You can test your bartering skills at the Muttrah Souk and no visit to Oman would be complete without a trip to the desert.
Canadian golf is often overlooked, but boasting over 2,200 golf courses, it’s a country that can rival even the most decorated nations. Jasper Park Lodge is just one venue worth considering.
Situated in Alberta’s magnificent Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge resort you can experience a great Canadian lodge, surrounded by nature and abundant wildlife.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a 700-acre year-round luxury mountain resort that wraps around the shores of the pristine lake, Lac Beauvert, and golf course. The Jasper resort’s charming village of cedar chalets and luxury cabins, all connected by picturesque paths, offer guests unique access to explore the natural environment of the hotel in Jasper National Park.
It was in 1924 that 200 men and 50 teams of horses set to work to clear the land that would become one of Canada’s most premiere golf courses. After a gruelling year of arduous work, planning and preparation, the course opened in the summer of 1925.
Today, the award-winning golf course is still the setting for creating unforgettable memories for all of those who go to play, and for Canada’s master golf course architect, Stanley Thompson, it was to become one of the greatest golf course designs of his career. The 18-hole layout offers elevated tee boxes, dramatic bunkering and holes aligned with distant mountain vistas. He built wide fairways that carve through thick forest, and maintained a partnership with the environment’s natural contours, blending beautiful landscapes with challenging terrain. As a result, few golf courses in the world can match the rugged majesty of this national treasure. Prices start from £109 per person per night (Room only).
With year-round temperatures averaging 25-30°C, a rich diversity of landscapes, incredible wildlife and friendly people - known as ‘The Pearl of Africa’ - Uganda is today recognised as one of the safest destinations in Africa with a vibrant and emerging tourism industry despite its dark history.
On the banks of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, and just 20 minutes from Kampala, Uganda’s capital, lies the picture-perfect Serena Golf Resort & Spa, with rates starting from $220 per room per night including breakfast. Styled to replicate a pastel-shaded Italian hillside village, the resort is situated amid terraced rose gardens, above its own boating marina. With the opening of the new Kampala - Entebbe Expressway, this resort is now also very easily accessible.
The 18-hole golf course is a challenging layout for golfers of all skill levels and the views of the lake and its surroundings are soft on the eye with ample bird life, while each hole has a different and relaxed feel to it.
Alternatively, Kampala Serena Hotel, located in the heart of Kampala, has drawn its architectural inspiration from the abundance of Uganda’s lakes and rivers and this 152-room luxurious hotel stands amidst landscaped grounds and water gardens.
Visitors can indulge in other activities such as nature walks, picnic cruises on Lake Victoria, a visit to the neighbouring Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Igongo Cultural Centre (a cultural village on the grounds of a former palace of the Ankole king), or Murchison Falls National Park which is known for its 45m-tall waterfall, made famous in the Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart movie ‘The African Queen’.
Cities within the Flanders region in northern Belgium are easily accessible by car from Brussels airport. Antwerp is approx 30mins, whilst Bruges and Knokke are 1hr and 1hr15 mins respectively.
As you head north, driving past the Royal Ostend Golf Club (the only links course in Belgium) and towards Knokke, for ladies, this is the place to be. It has more boutique and brand shops than any other seaside resort in Europe and it has one of Belgium’s best golf courses.
Knokke Le Zoute is a traditional course laid out on the coastal sandy soil. The clubhouse is home to a small boutique hotel and the food, like in every Belgian golf club, is fantastic. Move slightly inland and head for Bruges, the ‘Venice of the North’, where the sweet scent of waffles wafts through the cobbled streets and past the ample chocolate shops. Just outside the city is Damme Golf & Country Club, a 27-hole complex with great facilities.
One of the main European ports, Antwerp, is a fantastic city to stroll around and there is also plenty of golf nearby. Cleydael Golf & Country Club centres round a 14th-century moated castle and Rinkven Golf & Country Club hosted the European Tour’s Belgian knock-out. Head for Beveren, a 9-hole links layout in the middle of the Antwerp port, where it’s quite daunting to play next to passing ocean liners.
There is a good choice of hotels and the Martin’s Hotel group has some great properties to choose from. A converted Franciscan Church in Mechelen, the Rentmeesterij in Alden Biesen has a fully equipped spa and the Klooster in Leuven was the former residence of Charles the V’s secretary and a 15th century monastery. The Martin’s Relais in Bruges is an old patrician house dating back 700 years.
Visit: golfinflanders.com and martinshotels.com