Ten Gourmet Golf Breaks
by Stephen Killick (February 2013)
From the game’s earliest days golf has been as much to do with food and drink as it has been about the game. Scarce wonder then that the victorious professional golfer at the Open championship walks off with a claret jug. And at amateur level golf is a most companionable sport where friends can travel and enjoy the very best an area has to offer both in terms of golf and places to stay. I have identified ten of the very best British resort hotels where my yardstick is simple: what is on offer indoors must, at the very least, match the quality of the golf outside. Enjoy!
Showing below are all 9 records in "Ten Gourmet Golf Breaks"
Home to the 2014 Ryder Cup and also one of the world’s great hotels, Gleneagles is hugely popular with US tourists who enjoy some of the finest Scottish beef and salmon in the classical Strathearn restaurant or savour the two Michelin starred extravagance of chef, Andrew Fairlie. Fairlie’s signature dish is smoked lobster that is infused for 12 hours over whisky barrels. After fine dining or simpler, but equally delicious, fare available in the Dormie Clubhouse any self-respecting golfer will be in need of some exercise. And what a choice! The classic James Braid design of the King's Course, demands pin-point accuracy although it is easy to lose concentration amongst such majestic scenery, with soaring mountains to the north and rolling green hills to the south. The 2014 Jack Nicklaus designed course is the venue for Europe’s next Ryder Cup competition while the Queen’s course, though shorter, has attracted such legendary golfing names as Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman.
Maidens Road, Turnberry
The Ailsa is one of the world’s finest and most beautiful golf courses. Four times an Open championship venue and scene of possibly the finest competitive final rounds ever seen in 1977 when Tom Watson held off the challenge of Jack Nicklaus with a last round of 65 to lift the famous old claret jug with just a one shot margin. And having enjoyed the breath-taking beauty of the coastal holes as well as the superb overall design of architect Phillip Mackenzie Ross it is time to climb the steps up to the splendour of the great white walled hotel that sits above the course. The 1906 restaurant, with its panoramic views out to sea, won destination restaurant of the year in 2011 as well as breakfast of the year in the Scottish Hotel awards while head chef Justin Galea picked up the Chef’s gold medal award in the same year. This is classic French cuisine to be savoured.
A golfing pilgrimage to St Andrews is a must. The biggest problem is to allow sufficient time to take in the superb courses that abound in the ancient kingdom of Fife alongside the historic Old Course. For golfing travellers looking to spend their time in the lap of luxury then the Fairmont hotel, sitting high on the hills just south of the ‘Auld grey toon’ is the place to be. The Fairmont was the scene of Kate Middleton’s university fashion show appearance in ‘that dress’ that so captivated Prince William- there is even a Prince William cocktail available in the bar, albeit a non alcoholic one. As well as providing a sumptuous setting for Royal romance and everything else one would expect from a five star establishment, the Fairmont also boasts two very excellent golf courses of its own. The Torrance, named after former European Ryder Cup captain, Sam, and the more esoterically titled, Kittocks, which local historians will tell you is a reference to an old name for ladies of easy virtue who used to welcome sailors home to St Andrews, for a price!
Brocket Hall Estate, Brocket Road, Welwyn
Brocket Hall is one of the great stately homes of England. Although the present red brick mansion set in over 500 acres dates to the late 18th century, a privately owned house has been on the same site since 1239. Only 45 minutes from central London, Brocket not only offers first-rate golf on its two courses, each named after former British Prime Ministers who lived in the Hall, the Lords Palmerston and Melbourne. The venue is hugely popular with corporate clients but also caters intimate, fine dining for couples simply looking for a relaxing weekend break in historic and extremely comfortable surroundings. The Auberge du Lac is Hertfordshire’s only Michelin starred restaurant set in the old hunting lodge on the banks of Broadwater lake which comes into play on the 18th hole of the Palmerston course where players can reach the green by boat!
St Pierre Park, Chepstow
Another fine old manor house to stay in, although the more modern extensions are somewhat unsympathetic to the grandeur of the main property, parts of which date back to the 16th century. The interior, however, is welcoming and comfortable with friendly staff doing their very best to ensure that you enjoy your stay. The golf course, a testing parkland track with some steep climbs early on, has played host to the Curtis Cup in 1980, the Solheim Cup in 1996 and the PGA Welsh Masters in 2000. Morgan’s restaurant prides itself on locally sourced food and serves breakfast and dinner throughout the week plus a traditional Welsh roast at Sunday lunchtime. The more contemporary, Zest bar and eatery, doubles as the golf clubhouse where tasty snacks and a huge range of wines and spirits are available in a relaxing atmosphere.
Situated amidst the stunning and remote beauty of the Kintyre peninsula this David McLay Kidd designed golf course is part of a much wider vision by American development company, Southworth. Southworth is helping regenerate the region’s main conurbation, Campbeltown, and its surrounding area by reopening hotels, creating resort cottages and also building a fitting golf course to be played alongside the famous old Machrihanish course where players tee off on the first hole across the Atlantic ocean. The Dunes course has been open for business since 2009. Since then Southworth has lovingly refurbished and reopened the Ugadale Hotel opposite the Machrihanish pro-shop, the Royal Hotel in Campbeltown and created a cluster of luxury cottages as part of a £30m programme. Flights run daily from Glasgow to Campbeltown and the trip is well worthwhile with the Ugadale Hotel offering not only classical comfort with spectacular views out over the islands of Jura and Islay but also some exceptional dining and a mouth watering array of single malt whiskies.
Another fine old country estate restored to its former glory, only this time in the genteel countryside of the Surrey commuter belt. Owner Ian Hayton insisted that the club should provide two top quality courses and be as welcoming to women and children as it was to men. Electing a woman, Anita Olrog, as club captain in 2001 was just one of the things that sets Foxhills apart from so many other clubs. And as well as the two excellent courses, the Longcross and the Bernard Hunt, the club provides top-notch spa and cycling facilities' along with a menu to satisfy the most fastidious eaters in the Manor restaurant under head chef, David Hanlon. Although the restaurant seats over 100 diners it is divided in three distinct areas: a classically styled music room; a terrace room that is ideal for parties and the orangery, a superb conservatory overlooking the golf course.
Park Road, Taplow, Stoke Poges
Five star accommodation plus a golf course made famous in the iconic James Bond film, ‘Goldfinger’ make Stoke Park popular throughout the golfing world. This Buckinghamshire estate, which dates back to the Norman conquest, became the first ‘Country Club’ in the UK when owner Nick Lane Jackson decided to open the 350 acre estate to the public in 1908. The golf course was designed by the great architect, Harry Colt, and comprises of three loops of nine holes, trees are likely to be far more of an obstacle than the rough here as there are many! After a round there is the opulence of the 18th century mansion to return to which comprises of the house, the clubhouse, hotel and restaurant. Many of the 49 bedrooms open onto balconies where guests can enjoy breakfast or evening drinks overlooking parkland and historic gardens. In Humphry’s restaurant, executive chef Chris Wheeler, is currently celebrating his 10th year at the Club by producing a mouth-watering, 10-course tasting menu featuring one signature dish from each year he has been in charge.
The very best rooms are to be found in the old mansion house, at Chandlers Cross, just off the M25 motorway in Hertfordshire. However the more modern wing provides comfortable accommodation in 191 spacious rooms. Just like the bedrooms, food comes in a variety of guises with everything on offer from an eight-course gourmet menu in Colette’s restaurant that includes foie gras and scallops to simple pies and grills in The Stables. And, if guests are not going to make use of the excellent spa and fitness facilities, then walking off dinner on the golf course is a must and the Grove’s championship standard a worthy addition to golf in the south east. Kyle Phillips, who designed the stunning Kingsbarns course in Fife, put together what many describe as the finest track inside the M25.
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