Swing on a Southerly Course

Lifestyles Magazine

Go abroad for on par winter golfing

The links are frozen, the holes filled with snow. What’s a Czech golfer to do come winter? While driving ranges and indoor facilities are becoming more common in the Prague area, to get 18 holes in means you need to go when the sun is shining, and the snow doesn’t fall.

“It’s a question of money,” says Mikulas Ordnung, with the Czech Golf Federation and Captain of the Czech National Teams. “But many Czech golfers travel abroad one to three weeks to golf.” The Czech Golf Federation exists to promote golf as a sport among the general population, to increase the visibility of the sport, organize national championships and advise on golf course construction. Ordnung says there are many places to go in Europe and beyond.

“The Costa del Sol from Malaga to Gibraltar,” he suggests. “Majorca, the Canary Islands, Portugal. But even in winter you sometimes need to go somewhere else.” He suggests Florida, Thailand or even Egypt. “Dubai has desert courses, but is on the higher price end, not only for accommodations, but also green fees,” he says. “More people, if they have the time and money are going to the Seychelles or Dominican Republic.”

Luckily, you aren’t alone if you are new to planning a golf holiday. Pam Pardo is founder and president of AParDoGolfe, a tour operator working out of Portugal. She highly recommends this region for winter and spring golfing. “The Algarve has everything a golfer would require as it has a wide choice of beautiful courses, many by the sea shore,” she says. “Plus, the weather is perfect, having nearly 300 days of sunshine a year.”

And what about a rainy day or a travel partner who doesn’t golf? Will there be anything else to do? “Faro, Portugal has an historical old city and Spain is only 30 miles away and can easily be visited for the day,” says Pardo. “The Algarve has many archeological sites and the beaches are the best in Europe. There is also horse-back riding and excellent shopping.”

Traveling to golf has been increasing in popularity as more and more people become interested in the sport. It’s something men, women and even children can participate in. “In 1989 there were 1500 golfers in the Czech Republic,” says Ordnung. “Now there are more than 23,000. Golf is more accessible and increasing in popularity, but we still have a low number of golfers compared to other countries.”

But tourism bureaus are keeping their eyes on the number of people hitting the links. “So many tourist destinations have upscale resorts, good food, good accommodation,” says Ordnung. “Now golf courses are an important part of the business.” Pardo has some advice if you are researching a golf trip. “Ask about the distance of the hotel from the courses,” she advises. “Are the courses championship or not, and what are the weather expectations.”

And the golf obsession could dictate your holidays for many years to come. “What’s interesting about golf is no two courses are the same, which makes it attractive” says Ordnung. “People want to experience new courses in different countries; especially if the course has a story, like the architect, a unique history or its surroundings.”

So which course does Ordnung, who has been playing golf for more than 30 years, like best? “Golf courses are like beautiful women,” he maintains. “How do you decide which is the best?”