As travel restrictions ease, we run down 10 great last-minute destinations you might consider for warm weather golf this winter.
10 Best Winter Sun Golf Breaks
Golfing through the British winter can be something of an ordeal.
The bravest will battle through, but many choose to put the clubs away rather than face the cold, rain and mud.
There’s another option though – escape for a winter sun golf break.
As travel restrictions ease, more destinations are opening to golfers from the UK, although the situation is a fluid one so it’s important to keep a close eye on the latest news.
There are, nevertheless, some great last-minute deals to be had.
With the USA reopening in November, trips to Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and California are all back on the table – All great destinations for year-round warm weather golfing.
Mid haul destinations such as Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Cyprus and Abu Dhabi are perfect at this time of year and offer the chance for an extension of the golfing season or just to get some warm-weather winter practice in.
Other benefits of a winter golf break include: less queuing in restaurants and bars, plus the fact that both hotels and golf courses are quieter.
It’s possible to find peaceful, quiet courses at some of the best resorts in the world during the winter months.
It’s easier to travel further afield now than at any time since March 2020, so it’s worth having a look around.
Here below we take a look at 10 of the best winter sun golf destinations you can book right now that you might consider for a late deal.
Scottsdale in Arizona is one of America’s golfing hubs.
There are some 175 courses within striking distance of the city and, with 329 days of sunshine each year, many top players make Scottsdale their base.
The Boulders Resort is a favourite with visitors to the rugged Sonoran Desert.
The facility boasts two championship, Jay Morrish-designed tracks – The South and North, both providing great views of the surrounding countryside.
PGA Tour fans will be familiar with TPC Scottsdale.
The Stadium Course there is home to the WM Phoenix Open – the best-attended event on the PGA Tour.
Each year, some 500,000 spectators go to the tournament and every day around 50,000 gather around the par-3 16th, creating one of the greatest amphitheatres in golf.
The track is beautifully carved through the desert with great views to the McDowell Mountains.
Other great tracks include the two courses at We-Ko-Pa, the Cholla and Saguaro – immaculately kept and carved through the beautiful desert.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey, California
On the coast at Monterey, you’ll find another of the world’s most famous golf courses.
Pebble Beach Golf Links has witnessed a number of the U.S. Open’s greatest moments: Tom Watson’s chip-in on the 17th green in 1982, Tiger Woods’ phenomenal 15-stroke victory in 2000, then on to Graeme McDowell’s gritty display to win in 2010 and Gary Woodland’s fine win in 2019.
This is one of those “must-play” courses, a track where the hairs will stand up on the back of your neck as you tee up on the first.
Each hole is recognisable and has its own history.
Take the par-3 7th, just 103 yards but straight down towards a green perched on the edge of the Pacific – remember Tom Kite pitching in back in 1992.
The thrill continues right through to the fabulous par-5 18th, curving around the beautiful shoreline from right to left.
With winter deals to be had, including luxurious accommodation, Pebble Beach is a real bucket list golf course.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course was host to the Ryder Cup of 1991, an encounter dubbed “The War on the Shore,” remember the “Desert Storm” caps and Bernhard Langer’s agonising missed putt!
This is one of the world’s “must-play” courses, with a stunning array of holes, 10 of them playing right along the exposed Atlantic coastline.
With no prevailing wind, it can be brutally difficult.
But, with a wonderfully natural flow in a simply beautiful setting, this course provides a unique golfing experience, no matter how you play, or how many balls you lose!
There are four more courses at Kiawah Island with layouts by Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Clyde Johnston.
Combine that with first-class accommodation in The Villas at Kiawah Island Golf Resort and you have quite a package for a hugely memorable winter sun golf break.
PGA National Resort & Spa, Florida
To the north of Miami, there are many great courses, in and around Palm Beach.
Probably the most famous venue is the PGA National Resort & Spa.
There are no less than five superb layouts at the site but The Champion Course will be the best known to armchair golf fans.
Designed by Tom and George Fazio and re-modelled by Jack Nicklaus, the course is host to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic each spring.
It was also the venue for the 1983 Ryder Cup.
The layout’s infamous “Bear trap” comprises three extremely testing holes from the 15th to 17th – one of the most difficult stretches on the PGA Tour calendar.
Four further courses – The Palmer, The Fazio, The Squire and The Estate provide visitors to PGA National with more than enough to get their teeth into.
A $100 million renovation has just been completed at the resort with a luxurious 339-bedroom hotel at the heart of the accommodation.
Yas Links, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Designed by Kyle Phillips, the architect responsible for the majestic layout at Kingsbarns on the Fife coast, Yas Links on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi takes influence from the great British and Irish seaside courses.
With rolling fairways, pock-marked with clever bunkering, stunning views of the sea, an ever-present breeze and challenging green complexes, the course captures the rugged essence of links golf and delivers a blend of tradition and modernity.
There’s a selection of high-end hotels on the island, including W Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Crowne Plaza Yas Island and Yas Island Rotana.
In close proximity to Yas Marina, Ferrari World and the F1 Race Track, Yas Island is a great destination for winter sun golf breaks.
Aphrodite Hills Hotel, Cyprus
Set in beautiful countryside near Paphos with views of the Mediterranean and the brilliant PGA National Cyprus course, this is a five-star hotel offering luxurious and opulent accommodation, a selection of fine bars and restaurants and a salubrious spa – once voted best in Europe.
Designed by Cabell Robinson, the course delivers a strong challenge together with spectacular views.
Off course, the Aphrodite Hills Golf Academy provides great practice options and tuition from PGA professionals.
Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity, Gran Canaria
At Salobre near to Maspalomas you’ll find the luxurious 5-star, modern Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity. Home to two excellent golf courses it's a great destination for winter sun golf breaks.
The Old Course at Salobre isn’t particularly old by British golfing standards; it opened for play in 1999.
The New Course is more deserving of its moniker though; it opened in 2008.
The Old was designed by Roland Favre and is a fine layout that has welcomed a number of prestigious tournaments over the years, including the 2006 Spanish PGA Championship.
With sweeping fairways and tiered greens, this track features a great selection of par-3s.
The 11th deserves special mention. From the tee, the green appears small and distant with a cactus-covered rock face looming behind it.
Ron Kirby designed the spectacular New Course at Salobre.
Although its relatively short, it’s extremely technical as it has effectively been carved out of the hilly, volcanic landscape.
It’s a unique track with holes rising, falling and winding through the striking terrain.
This course delivers a truly memorable round of golf.
The hotel has 313 rooms in eight different styles, there’s a fine selection of dining options offering local cuisine and a fabulous spa facility that blends seamlessly into its tranquil surroundings.
Praia D’El Rey Resort, Portugal
Praia d’El Rey lies on a rugged stretch of the Portuguese coastline some 40 miles north of Lisbon in a region known as the Costa Prata.
The resort is home to two superb courses.
Cabell B. Robinson who learned his trade under the guidance of Robert Trent Jones set out to create a layout at Praia d’El Rey that made the very most of the natural terrain.
Opened for play in 1997, the American was successful in his mission.
Travelling along the rough-edged Atlantic coast, most of the course has a links-like feel with firm fairways leading to sloping greens.
A section of the front nine, more like parkland and played through the pines, provides an appealing contrast.
The West Cliffs at Praia D'El Rey is a brilliant links-like layout that runs along the coast – It’s a regular near the top of European course rankings.
The apartments in the Praia D’El Rey resort offer the perfect base for winter sun golf breaks with easy access to the courses, local amenities, bars and restaurants.
La Cala Golf Resort, Spain
Just a 30-minute drive from Malaga Airport, nestled between the arresting beauty of the Sierra de Mijas Natural Park and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea, La Cala Resort is an idyllic and secluded retreat offering a wealth of golfing opportunity together with the very best in off-course facilities and hospitality.
This is one of the very few 54-hole golf resorts across continental Europe.
There are three superb championship courses - Campo America, Campo Asia and Campo Europa - each designed by Cabell Robinson and each presenting unique challenges.
The layouts slot seamlessly into a natural, undulating backdrop of trees and flowers, rich with birds and wildlife.
Over recent years, significant work has been conducted to renovate and improve all three layouts.
An additional 6-hole, par-3 course and world-class golf academy complete the La Cala experience.
The resort’s hotel has also been refurbished and offers accommodation of a high standard, superb dining and an exceptional spa facility.
The Ritz-Carlton, Abama, Tenerife
The Dave Thomas designed course at the Ritz-Carlton, Abama Resort is generally considered to be Tenerife’s premier track.
Set on undulating terrain, the course winds through palm trees past water hazards and strategic bunkering while offering the golfer stunning views of the Atlantic.
The layout tested the European Tour’s finest in the Abama Open de Canarias in 2005.
With carpet-like fairways and silky smooth greens, Abama is renowned for always being presented in wonderful condition.
Accommodation comes in the shape of 459 rooms and suites and there are no fewer than 10 on-site restaurants to choose from.
With spa and leisure options plus a plethora of other off course activities, the Ritz-Carlton, Abama is a great choice for winter sun golf breaks.
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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