The Scots are credited with the invention of modern golf, but the origins of the game are widely debated. Most believe that the game was first played in Europe during the Middle Ages. Evidence unearthed in 2005 suggests that Mongolian travelers may have been the ones who brought the game (called “chuíwán”) to Europe. Either way, golf has been around for a long time.
Golf was banned several times throughout the 1400’s, but finally spread from Europe to the United States in the 18th century. It was firmly established in Europe by the end of the 19th century. In 1880 there were only 12 courses in England; by 1914 that number had risen to 1,000. Golf became incredibly popular in the US during the 1920’s. When an American won the British Open Championship in 1992, the US claimed dominance over the sport – a status they still hold today.
The history of golf is preserved worldwide in these famous museums:
- British Golf Museum (Fife, Scotland)
- US Golf Association Museum (New Jersey, US)
- World Golf Hall of Fame (Florida, US)
- Canadian Golf Hall of Fame (Ontario, Canada)
Today, Europe has become a destination for wealthy golfers. The rolling hills and mild climate are perfect for the sport. Luxury golf resorts aren’t just about golf; they focus on attitude, prestige, exclusivity, and landscape. Most important, they place guests in the very lap of luxury. Here are two of Europe’s best luxury golf resorts:
Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily
On Sicily’s south coast you’ll find a resort boasting discreet exclusivity (there are only 203 rooms). The grounds contain a private beach and every room has a view of the ocean with a private terrace. The resort’s two golf courses were designed by Kyle Phillips, a leading golf architect. When playing The East Course, golfers will travel along a meandering route that brings them to the sea twice. The 18th hole is located alongside the cliffs and the end of the course brings you to an elevated, tumbling landscape. The West Course is less diverse but touches the Mediterranean in the middle and is capped with a magnificent seaside finale. Both The East Course and The West Course make ingenious use of the natural terrain and make for a fulfilling experience.
Vidago Palace, Portugal
A long ago destination for those seeking Vidago’s legendary mineral waters, Vidago Palace is a resort fit for kings. With Belle Epoque charm, the resort combines the grandeur of a palace with the coziness of a cottage. There are only 70 rooms in the palace. The resort is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by woodlands. The lush atmosphere, mineral water, and tranquil setting make for a magical, restorative vacation.
Vidago Palace’s championship golf course was built in 1936 (a Mackenzie Ross original). Redesigned by Cameron and Powell according to USGA specifications, the course will remind you of the sport’s inherent beauty and is an exhilarating challenge even for experienced golfers. Great contrasts in landscape evoke a respect for the palace’s natural surroundings. The course is located in Centennial Park, presenting players with magnificent views of rolling hills and small villages. The middle of the course dips into the historic Oura Valley. The course also includes a driving range, chipping area, two putting greens, and a golf school.