I hear it referred to as “travel porn” – an indulgence which captures our great sense of adventure to the extent that, universally, it now has its own hashtag #travelporn.
These are the spectacular images that make people want to take annual leave and book flights immediately. For me, though, my true indulgence lies in salivating over sensational golf courses that beg you to pack your clubs and play in exotic, faraway fairways.
I was given Robert Sidorsky’s golf courses of the world 365 days for my birthday one year. It is the ultimate fantasy book; capturing picture-perfect golf courses from 60 countries around the world and across 49 states in the US. You can literally sit for hours drooling over the layouts. It’s the definitive menu to help design your bucket list … needless to say I’m still working through it.
I only got serious about my game about seven years ago. As I collected my ‘black book’ of golfing mates, conversations ultimately led to golfing holidays and the courses we must play. We all unanimously agree on the four essential elements of any good golfing holiday: perfect weather, a distinctive setting and gorgeous scenery, first-class food and an excellent wine list.
Call me a princess but I do know the right ingredients for the ultimate golfing trip … so I thought I’d open my archives and share with you some of my all-time favourites, just for the fun of it.
No Passport Required
Bonville International Golf Resort is right up there as a perfect three-day getaway and ticks all my essential boxes. Minutes from Coffs Harbour airport, it’s acknowledged as one of our most beautiful courses and the excellent hospitality is reflected in the numerous awards for its food and wine.
Melbourne is great for a long weekend. The wine-and-dine capital of Australia is always on the cards for me and the Sandbelt offers a perfect banquet. If you can swing a game at Royal Melbourne or Kingston Heath, it’s worth packing your clubs. I managed to play one of my better games at Kingston Heath, and it’s not a long course – which is good for the ladies – but tricky nonetheless.
Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm are two of the many reasons why a flight to Tasmania is a no-brainer. Pick the weather and you’re in for a treat. If you can get an early tee-off, make the most of it – break for lunch and load up again for an enjoyable late afternoon round.
Across The Ditch
It’s only a short flight, but New Zealand offers world-class golf courses and luxury accommodation to match. Every golfer has heard of Cape Kidnappers and its sister property Kauri Cliffs, both on the North Island. In one word, spectacular. Lavish, but indulge yourself just once. Queenstown in the south will spoil you. Stay at Millbrook Resort, enjoy its award-winning 27-hole layout, then venture further to one of the most remarkable golf courses I have ever played, Jack’s Point – arguably one of the most spectacular golf sites in the world, surrounded by The Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is also renowned for sensational restaurants and a hive of fun activity. Do what you can to secure a round at The Hills, home of the New Zealand Open.
Make The Long Haul
Long weekends are the perfect excuse to plan a break and a chance for a mid-length long haul flight to a golfing paradise of your choice. If you can squeeze in five or six days, then I highly recommend the Four Seasons Resort on Lanai in Hawaii. Two outstanding golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman offer vastly different experiences. The Challenge at Manele is Nicklaus’ breathtaking coastal course with great ocean views. Further inland and higher up is Norman’s The Experience at Koele, situated in Lanai’s highlands and surrounded by soaring pine forests and mountain ravines. The contrast between them will entertain any good golfer. The margaritas are amazing.
This may surprise you, but a flight to Abu Dhabi has also become a favourite golfing holiday for me. The right time of year will deliver amazing weather and Abu Dhabi boasts a range of internationally recognised restaurants. The drinks are always chilled and Yas Links and Saadiyat Beach are sensational. I recommend the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, which is right on the beach and has an amazing spa.
Now, there was that trip to The Masters 2013 and the time I played Pinehurst, but I’ll save that for another time…
• Deborah Hutton – Publisher balancebydeborahhutton.com.au