The most challenging and spectacular golf courses of Continental Europe are concentrated in Southern Europe, with 6 out of the 10 best european golf courses situated either in Spain (2), Italy (2), Greece (1) or Portugal (1). The other countries hosting some of Europe's finest golf courses are France, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden. Most of these golf courses were built in exceptional natural surroundings and at least two of them have well succeeded in preserving and including the autochthonous flora and fauna within the original design of the golf course.
Golf de Chantilly, Vineuil-Saint-Firmin, France
One of the finest and oldest golf courses of France and one of the most uncompromising ones of Europe. Contrary to the solemn and peaceful setting, the course is far from relaxing: it contains three challenging par 5s and four tough par 3s, of which three are more than 190m long. Eight of the par 4s exceed 380m.
Club zur Vahr, Course Garlstedt, Bremen, Germany
The course was designed in such a way to integrate the abundant natural hazards. Trees dominate the course and many of the holes are doglegged demanding distance as well as accuracy and tactics. The German Open has been played at Club zur Vahr in 1975 and 1985.
Corfu Golf and Country Club, Corfu, Greece
Designed by Donald Harradine, the island golf course with water hazards and great stands of high cypress, presents several challenges. Probably one of the best kept golfing secrets of golfing Europe.
El Saler Golf Club, Valencia, Spain
One of the best European golf courses which has been rated the top course in continental Europe on several occasions. It is situated in the National Park El Saler. Designed by Javier Arana it combines a varied and unusual combination of natural links and seaside elements: umbrella pines, spectacular holes built in the sand dunes.
Falsterbo Golfklubb, Fyrvagen, Falsterbo, Sweden
One of Europe's most dramatic courses and the only true links course of Sweden, Falsterbo is situated on a peninsula between the Baltic Sea and the waters of the Oresund. The club is the third oldest golf club in Sweden. The course is also a perfect example of how natural preservation and golf can go hand in hand. Falsterbo is located in a nature reserve and is frequently visited by bird watchers since the Falsterbo peninsula is the last stop for many migratory birds).
Kennemer, Zandvoort, The Netherlands
Kennemer is the oldest golf course of The Netherlands, situated in an area of massive dunes and stands of pine trees. It is considered one of the 100 most beautiful of the world. It consists of 3 series of 9 holes: de A-holes (the Van Hengel course), the B-holes (the Pennink course) and the C-holes (the Colt-course).
Penina, Portimão, Algarve, Portugal
Originally built on bare ricefields, the 6439 metre long course is generally quite flat, and is set amongst more than 350,000 mature trees and shrubs, with each of the fairways lined with tall trees. Drainage ditches help to define the fairways, and in some places act as tricky water hazards. The sequence of the holes is quite original since the last nine holes both begin and end with a Par 5. Therefore, the first half of the course is Par 35, while Par for the other nine holes is 38. A new lake has been created to protect hole 5's green and additional water has been added around green 13, transforming it into a small island. The Championship course has been host to the Portuguese Open 8 times (including 1999 and 2000) as well as the European Seniors Match Play Championship.
Pevero, Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy
Robert Trent Jones was commissioned by the Aga Khan to build one of the most beautiful and spectacular golf courses in Europe. Situated in a valley between two breathtaking bays: Pevero bay on the one side and Cala di Volpe on the other side. The panoramic course is not only beautiful, but also extremely challenging, requiring constant concentration and accuracy.
Golf di Roma Acquasanta, Rome, Italy
Set among the relics of Ancient Rome, this very challenging championship course was carved from the foothills of the Adirondacks. It stretches to nearly 6,800 yards from the back tees but yet plays to a manageable 6,300 yards from the middle (white) tees. Thus, no matter what skill level you possess, Rome can be both challenging and entertaining, a rarity with today's courses.
Valderrama, Sotogrande, Cadiz, Spain
One of the finest golf achievements of golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Senior was recently rated the number one course in mainland Europe by Golf World magazine. Some consider it on the verge of becoming the Augusta of Europe. Valderrama was originally known as "Sotogrande New" and "Las Aves". The 6356 metres long and par 71 course with no hole of less than championship quality can be fully enjoyed by players of all handicaps, thanks to the genius of Robert Trent Jones. Valderrama is situated near the Mediterranean and two prevailing winds play an important role: the poniente from the land, which in summer can be very hot, and the levante from the Mediterranean, which brings a cooler sea breeze. The changing climatic conditions, depending on which one is blowing, add variety to a golf course that is already rich in shot values.