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 1400s 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 1920s. 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 a cottage’s coziness. 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 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.
How to fly budget airlines in Europe?
Once they arrive, most visitors to Europe don’t consider flying an option. Until recently, rental vehicles and public transportation have been the most cost-effective ways to travel to Europe. Things are different now.
There are four reasons the cost of airfare has decreased dramatically in recent years:
- Deregulation of European airlines in the 1990s
- The Open-Skies Treaty of 1992
- Competition between airlines
- The proliferation of small, niche airlines
There are currently 62 budget airlines in Europe. SkyScanner and Kayak are two great places to start looking for flights. Purchasing tickets far in advance will enable you to find the cheapest flights. Look for airlines that use either your starting or ending point as a hub. If you have multiple flights, be prepared for delays, and leave yourself with plenty of extra time. Be flexible. Try to fly on weekdays during the spring or autumn. Avoid flying during the holidays. Check for sales and look for flights that depart early in the morning or very late at night. If you can’t find the exact flight you want, check flights to nearby airports. Departure times can change suddenly by up to 10 hours. Double-check your itinerary a few days before your trip and check-in online to avoid fees.
Does a $100 (or less) plane ticket sound too good to be true? There are many downsides to low-cost airlines. You can’t use travel agents, tickets are available only online and are not refundable, and schedules are tight. Flights that aren’t filled up are sometimes canceled on short notice. If you’re late, the plane will not wait for you. Almost all budget flights are point-to-point and do not offer connecting flights. There’s always the chance that a small airline will suddenly go out of business. Budget airlines are safe but provide only essential transport (don’t expect snacks). Since the airlines don’t make much money on ticket sales, they will use every excuse to fine you. Make sure to read the fine print and look up all information about luggage.
With 41 hubs, Ryanair is Europe’s largest budget airline. If you book early, you can find flights from London to various European cities for only $20. Ryanair is notorious for “add-on fees.” The only way to avoid paying a credit card fee is to use a prepaid MasterCard credit card. The average one-way ticket from Ryanair is between $55 and $65 (this price includes tax and fees). Ryanair has stringent baggage regulations. It is recommended that you purchase insurance that protects against flight cancellation because Ryanair has a minimal compensation policy regarding canceled flights. Ensure you know where your endpoint is because Ryanair often flies to small, obscure airports far from the city you’re trying to reach.
A little more expensive is EasyJet, Europe’s second-largest budget airline. When flying with EasyJet, you will not be charged a fee for printing your boarding pass at the airport. However, like Ryanair, there is a fee for every piece of checked luggage. But unlike Ryanair, easyJet tends to use principal airports. There are no seat assignments, and a one-way ticket ranges from $27-$570.
The third-largest budget airline in Europe is Air Berlin. It has a vast network and offers long flights in addition to within-Europe flights. One-way tickets start at $60. This price includes luggage, fees, and tax. Unlike most of Europe’s budget airlines, Air Berlin offers free drinks, newspapers, and snacks onboard. They also allow up to 44 pounds of free checked luggage per passenger.