As the days shorten, nights draw in and frost is an all-too welcome site overnight, often preceding the first snowfall of the year, it is easy for the golfer in more snowy climes to want to throw their clubs into a travel case and head somewhere more favourable for golf.
So if you fancy a bit of winter golfing, where should you head? If your local course is snowbound and you want to find some great winter golf, then why not check out any of the five destinations on our hit list.
1. Portugal & Southern Spain
The resorts on the southern coast of the Iberian peninsula have long been one of the most popular places for golf starved Europeans to head during the winter months. A great place to base yourself is the Algarve, which has a host of top courses (39 at the last count).
You can play the outstanding Vilamoura course, which is home to the Portuguese Masters tournament, the Jack Nicklaus designed Monte Rei as well as the spectacular Quinta da Ria.
The cost of the courses isn’t cheap at around 100 Euro per round, but if you book through an agent and are prepared to look around the cheap tee time sites, you can save a considerable amount of money booking your tee times that way.
For example, there are deals available where you can play most of the top courses in the Algarve for less than 50 Euro per round, with Espiche Golf the cheapest available at just 26 Euro.
The temperate climate of the Spanish Costa’s is also another popular golfing retreat for Europeans with plenty of courses along this beautiful and rugged coastline.
Try Hacienda del Alamo, Las Colinas Golf and Country Club, Roda Golf Course and Vistabella Golf for starters.
In truth, there is no bad place to go in Florida for golf. Even the famed mid-belt Disney area is surrounded by a wealth of fabulous golf courses, including Bay Hill. The state is also home to the famous Sawgrass course in Tallahassee, as well as boasting several outstanding courses in the Miami and Keys region.
Most tourists however will head to the Orlando area and there are some fabulous courses to choose from. Disney guests have their own trio of Disney courses to play on (Lake Buena Vista, Oak Trail and Palm), plus there are two 18 hole courses at Champions Gate (plus a 9-hole par 3 course) as well as several other top courses.
Two the author has played that he can highly recommend are those at Highlands Reserve near Davenport and the huge Hunter’s Creek golf course, which at the time I played, was the longest course in Florida at well over 7000 yards long.
Golf in Florida in the winter is a true joy with almost perfect playing conditions and it is easy to see why it is one of the state’s most popular activities in the winter months.
3. South Africa
Perhaps one of the best kept golfing secrets for Europeans, South Africa is quickly making a name for itself as a hot-spot golf destination in the winter months.
Heading due south means you’ll be heading from a cold European winter into an African summer, so pack accordingly and with so many fantastic courses to choose from, including the famous Sun City resort, Stellenbosch, Arabella, Fancourt, Legends and Garden Route.
If you want to play lots of great golf close by then Cape Town is the place to base yourself with nine excellent courses in the area, including Pearl Valley, De Zalze, Royal Cape , Milnerton and the exclusive Arabella golf club.
You can book direct with many of these golf resorts or you can book a personalised golf vacation with a South African golf specialist to experience more of the region’s outstanding courses.
If you want to experience golf that is a little more ostentatious than even the most luxurious resorts in other parts of the world can offer, then Dubai is the place to head. It’s climate is perfect for year round golf, though the cooler winter temperatures do make things a little more bearable than in the strong summer heat.
It’s fair to say that golf has been one of many boom industries in the region in recent years with many outstanding resorts opening offering top class golf and accommodation for golfers and their families.
There are many outstanding courses in and around Dubai, making travelling to each relatively easy on the fast and modern Dubai transport network. The Abu Dhabi Golf Club is the home of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and has packages from £113 per person including buggy and range balls.
You can also play three clubs named after three greats of the game, the Montgomerie Dubai, the Els Club and the Faldo Belek course, while the Fire course at Jumeirah Golf Estates was designed by the Great White Shark, Greg Norman.
If you have the cash and want to experience golf in a little more luxury, Dubai is certainly the place to head.
5. The UK
While the UK and Ireland may not be able to offer guaranteed sunshine and perfect playing conditions compared to the other destinations on this list, our generally temperate winter climate means that golf is playable for most of the year, most years.
The occasional snow storm apart, the UK and Ireland, thanks to the warming water transported by the Gulf Stream, the UK and Ireland don’t suffer as severe winters as many of our European cousins.
That said, it is a season when fair-weather golfers tend to hibernate, which means that even at some of the most famous golf clubs in the world, you can find some outstanding golfing bargains.
For example, you can play the famous Ryder Cup course, the Brabazon, at the Belfry, plus the National Course and receive bed and breakfast for just £139 per person.
You can get the same kind of deal taking in the famous Ailsa course at Turnberry, plus another 18 holes on the Kintyre Course for just £180. Or you can play the course that will host the 2014 Ryder Cup, the PGA Centenary course plus have bed and breakfast from just £147 per person at Gleneagles.
And with a host of clubs the length and breadth of the UK offering great value prices, some up to 80% of the usual price, if you want cheap golf and plenty of it and can put up with the weather, the UK and Ireland is a great place to visit in the winter.
Just remember, to pack your thermals and a nice woolly hat!
Images Courtesy of Flags for Free Website, La Margara Golf Club