Golfing holidays can offer fans of the green the chance to show off their skills (or otherwise) in some of the most beautiful regions of the world. However, this no longer has to be at the expense of less-keen putters in the family, with many resorts now catering for all interests without sacrificing the quality of the courses. Bear in mind that the best courses book up quickly, so be sure to reserve games before setting off. For a great holiday, break out the clubs and head for the destinations where quality is par for the course.
Head to the States
The USA is still riding high in the polls for top golfing destinations with a wide range of resorts to suit all tastes. With the current strength of the pound against the dollar, a long-haul flight to the US can mean a great value trip for those wanting a longer break.
A survey by Travel & Leisure magazine in 2007 named the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina as the number one golf destination in the world, an accolade backed up by its role as host of the 2008 US Amateur Championship in August. Established in 1895, Pinehurst is home to eight courses over 2,000 acres - including the newly renovated Course Number One, which has entertained players for over a century. Airport shuttle services can be provided from local airports such as Raleigh/Durham International Airport which is served by American Airlines.
The green greens of Europe
However, for a shorter break try staying closer to home. Continental Europe is home to some of the most diverse sites in the world, many of which are only a couple of hours by plane away. Head to Spain for highly-rated courses in sunny climes, safe in the knowledge that there's a plate of delicious tapas at the 19th hole. One of the most distinguished sites is the Golf Club Valderrama in Andalucia. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Senior, so all handicaps can enjoy a game as well as the impressive views of the Mediterranean. The rural feel of the area is increased by the onsite wildlife sanctuaries, which preserve local animal and tree life . Fly into Gibraltar Airport, served by airlines includingBritish Airways.
For more tips on the best resorts available, check out the Peugeot Golf Guide: an annual list of the top 1,000 golf courses in Europe.
If there's only one golfer in the family, don't worry about leaving everyone else behind or convincing your youngest to take up a career as a caddy. Many resorts welcome golfing widows (of both genders), as well as an increasing number of family friendly destinations around the world. Aside from local sight-seeing, many sites offer activities for all ages.
In the US, Walt Disney World in California, provides high quality golfing alongside the obvious attractions for younger travellers, along with other top course at Orange County National and the Hawk's Landing Course at the nearby Marriot World Center. Meanwhile, resorts such as the Hyatt Regency, La Manga in Murcia Spain offers luxurious accommodation with water sports, professional football a high-class spa and the Junior Club which can keep those under 12 entertained throughout the day.
For those hoping to venture further afield, it has been revealed that Marrakech has a new facility for families with a new 150-room five star development at Al Johara, which is located within easy access of the three main 18-hole courses in the area. Non-golfers can enjoy the horse-riding facilities, open air cinema and amphitheatre or just relax thanks to the round-the-clock children's club.
The 19th hole
After a hard day on the course, treat yourself with some of the luxurious facilities which have become synonymous with the world of golfing holidays. Spas and restaurants are now pretty standard for golfing hotels, while many reside close to some amazing sites of interest which are worth a visit. Wine lovers may be interested in golfing holidays in France, which now has over 600 courses, many of which can also provide regional wine-tasting. The Golf Du Medoc Hotel and Spa, 20 minutes from Bordeaux, offers great value golf and spa packages. However, although many resorts offer fabulous restaurant meals, it's always worth taking a peek off-site to experience some of the local dishes and nightlife.
Checking in your clubs
Although most resorts will hire out clubs, taking your own can ensure you're playing at the top of your game from the start of the holiday. British Airways carry gold equipment, including 14 clubs, umbrella and golf shoes for free in addition to normal luggage, while the same on American Airlines simply counts as part of the baggage allowance, which is standard practice for most non-budget airlines. However, check that you have the correct insurance before leaving as some policies do not cover golf clubs as standard.