In our extensive travels, Great Golf have visited many top golf resorts, some of exceptional standard, some not so exceptional. So, our aim is to applaud those that go that little bit further to make their guests feel welcome.
The first of our yearly reports will give you advice from some people who have more experience that anyone, our journalists. And who got the final vote? You, the public.
If you did not vote this time, make sure you do for 2018.
WELCOME to the 100 Greatest Golf Resorts 2017. The 100 Greatest is made up of five sub-categories, each consisting of 20 Golf Resorts that are considered candidates for a particular field. The fields voted for over 2016 are;
- Top 20 Romantic,
- Top 20 Exotic,
- Top 20 Family Friendly
- Top 20 Golf & Spa
- Top 20 Gourmet.
So, why have we decided to bring out the 100 Greatest? There are other “Top 100” lists after all. But you see, the thing is, they all concentrate only on the golf courses, and however important that is, it’s only part of a perfect holiday. To be a contender, a resort must have many attributes, such as excellent service, comfort, quality and facilities among others
To be included in the 100 Greatest Golf Resorts, one of our roving journalists must have visited the location at least once. This is the Great Golf “100 Greatest”, after all, and we can only be truthful if we have first-hand experience.
The winners of each category are voted for by the Great Golf Readers.
You will notice that some contenders do not have a golf course. Rovos Rail in South Africa for example is a Golf Safari train experience. It’s only important that the candidate is a self-contained high standard holiday location and golf is readily accessible. The purpose for our readers to pick which ones provide the best holiday for the travelling golfer, and that includes so much more than just golf. The votes are in and it’s time to list our winners.
BALLYFIN - WINNER OF THE ROMANTIC RESORT CATEGORY 2017
Phil Mickelson said, “The object of golf is not just to win, it is to play like a gentleman and win.” For anyone who is looking to combine golf with refinement and old world elegance, a trip to Ireland’s County Laois provides the genteel atmosphere to play like a gentleman on stadium courses fit for a pro.
Visited by Great Golf journalist Dena Roché and voted by our readers as the winner of the Romantic Golf Resort category, Ballyfin has quietly garnered luxury accolades since opening in 2011. The 1820s Georgian Manor House was painstakingly restored for eight years with seemingly no expense spared.
With a combination of romantic surroundings and excellent service, it’s easy to see why the resort came top. If you’re itching to golf, head to The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort in Killenard, just a 25-minute drive.
Good to Know
Getting there - There are flights from many UK airports to Dublin with a flight time of roughly one hour and twenty minutes.
Golf - Nearby are The Herigate, K Club and Mount Juliet.
MISSION HILLS HAIKOU - WINNER OF THE EXOTIC GOLF RESORT CATEGORY 2017.
A new star has risen in the golfing firmament, far to the east. Where the Ming Dynasty once prevailed is now truly the land of the Ping, Nike, Titleist, Taylor-Made and Callaway dynasties. Welcome to China’s new revolution, its epicentre a tropical island the size of Belgium set in the crystal, azure waters of the South China Sea.
Great Golf Journalist Peter Ellegard visited Mission Hills Haikou, located on China’s tropical island of Hainan in its southernmost province. Often called China’s Hawaii, it is now the focal point for its burgeoning golf tourism industry. Of Hainan’s 50-plus golf courses, 10 of them (almost one-fifth) are at Mission Hills Haikou, which spans a vast volcanic lava landscape.
The 5-Star Resort features over 500 guest rooms and suites, each providing luxury accommodation in a tropical golf and leisure paradise. Says Peter. “Mission Hills Haikou is geared towards leisure visitors and perfectly underlines a ‘golf and more’ philosophy. Europe and America beware; the dragon has been stirred from its slumber”.
Good to know
There are no direct flights to Hainan Island from the UK, but you can fly to the capital Haikou or the beach resort of Sanya via gateways including Hong Kong, Singapore, Guangzhou and Shanghai. High-speed bullet trains also go to Hainan from Beijing and Shanghai.
Bullet trains take 80 minutes from Haikou to Sanya, but tour buses are how most golfers and golf groups are transported around the island. Haikou to Shenzhou Peninsula by road takes two hours and another 90 minutes from there to Sanya.
BOVEY CASTLE - WINNER OF THE FAMILY FRIENDLY GOLF RESORT CATEGORY 2017.
Deep in the hills of Dartmoor National Park lies Bovey Castle, a remarkable hotel where you are treated like royalty yet in a most welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. No stuffiness here, so just put your feet up and let the kids run wild. And then there is golf – of course.
Let's face it, most of us would like at least one holiday with the family where we don't feel guilty as we sneak off to the golf course. And our readers have decided that Bovey Castle really does have something special for everyone. While the golfers in the family are off having fun, others can do everything from horse-riding to off-road driving, to falconry or hot air ballooning. The kids will also be busy taking part in some of the many activities arranged for children by the Bovey Rangers team.
Good to know
The M4 from London, the M6 from the North West and the M1/M42 from the North East all link up with the M5, which will bring you south to Devon and the West Country. If you are using Satellite Navigation, please enter Bovey Castle Golf Course.
Bovey Rangers activities for the younger guests include archery, raft building, falconry centre visit, rock climbing, abseiling and Dartmoor treetop adventure.
PUEBLO BONITO PACIFICA GOLF & SPA – WINNER OF THE GOLF & SPA RESORT CATEGORY 2017.
Playing a round of golf on the edge of the Baja Peninsula proved to be quite the challenge for Robert Kaufman. It was hard not to be distracted by the humpback whale, stunning views and cliff-top shots...
Great Golf Journalist Robert Kaufman visited Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort in Mexico and wrote, “With a breaching humpback whale sprouting out of the Pacific Ocean and Instagram moments appearing from every angle of the panoramic stretch of coastline fronting the turquoise waters of Mexico’s stunning Baja Peninsula, I was finding it hard to concentrate on making a putt”.
With a round of golf in these surroundings, no wonder that the Spa also inspires. The award-winning Armonia Spa was included in “Best Spas in Mexico & Central America 2013” by Condé Nast Traveller magazine. Armonia offers a selection of wellness-oriented body treatments and massage therapies to rejuvenate anyone, golfer or non-golfer.
Good to know
Flights to San Jose del Cabo International Airport, plus a 40-minute drive to Quivira.
STOKE PARK - WINNER OF THE GOLF & GOURMET CATEGORY 2017
It’s one of Britain’s leading five-star hotel and country clubs. With a championship golf course, tennis courts and award winning spa, Stoke Park has been a favourite haunt of the rich and famous for centuries. Now, with its recently re-launched restaurant, Humphry’s, they seem to have set their course toward the stars..
Great Golf journalist Camilla Kaas Stock visited Humphry’s Restaurant at Stoke Park and found the food to be exceptional. Before coming here, Executive Chef Chris Wheeler honed his culinary skills as right-hand man to French chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, working with him in various Michelin starred restaurants: first at Le Provence in Lymington and later helping him launch Maison Novelli. But for many years now, Chris has steadily been building Stoke Park’s culinary reputation and at Humphry’s, its “fine dining” restaurant, with his modern twist on British cuisine, he has a winning recipe.
Humphry's holds three AA Rosettes, thanks in no small part to Chris. A dining experience here, surrounded by stunning décor and panoramic views of the estate, will definitely be one to remember.
Good to know
Stoke Park is located just to the west of London and is easily accessible from the M25, M4 and M40 motorways.
Lunch time and evening reservations can be made from the website and also by phone.