Winelands of South Africa: De Zalze Golf
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The port city of Bilbao in the Basque region of northern Spain, surrounded by beaches and hills and famous for its incredible food and architecture, has some great golf courses to play.
Home to delicious pintxos – the local version of tapas – and the world famous Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, it’s also a great base to visit the culinary hotspot of San Sebastian, just an hour down the coast.
With more rain and a cooler climate than more southerly regions of Spain, the city is still warm and sunny in the summer while its green rolling hills provide perfect golfing country.
Uraburu Golf is a superb golf club, surrounded by hills only 15 minutes from Bilbao. It boasts two layouts designed by Jose María Olazabal, an 18-hole par-71 course and 9-hole par-33 golf course. The two-time Masters champion’s main course is blessed with ancient oak trees, natural rolling terrain and elevation changes which make it not only an entertaining course to play but one that provides gorgeous views over northern Spain. It’s also got a lovely clubhouse restaurant serving pintxos and other local favourites. Visitors can stay at Palacio Urgoiti, just 8km away.
Palacio Urgoiti is a four-star hotel in a grand and stunning building dating back to the 17th century. There’s 43 comfortable rooms, a heated pool and an excellent restaurant. The hotel has a 9-hole golf course with holes up to 130 yards designed with bunkers and ponds that will take you through ancient oaks, pines and native plants. If you stay at the hotel you will have free access to the golf course.
Meaztegi Golf is among the other golf courses in the Bilbao area, just a few kilometres west of the city. It’s home to a great 18-hole public courses designed by Spanish golfing legend Severiano Ballesteros, a 9-hole course, a driving range, a pitching and putting green, and restaurant. Opened in 2005, Seve’s courses is superbly maintained, prices are very reasonable and it has splendid views towards the sea.
Real Sociedad de Golf de Neguri is another fine course, set on the northern coastal outskirts of the city. It has a magnificent 18-hole golf course, a driving range and a short hole course. Some of the holes sit along the cliff tops, two hundred feet above sea level, and there are fine vistas of the Cantabrian Sea.
Club De Campo Laukariz, around 12km north of the city centre, has 27 holes, so players can play three variations of an 18-hole round. The course is laid over several hills and valleys which add to the natural feel of the setting.
Among the best hotels in Bilbao is Melia Bilbao, a five-star lap of luxury just a few meters from the iconic Guggenheim museum and the Euskalduna Palace. It provides excellent dining options and opportunities to enjoy the most authentic flavours of Basque cuisine. Other five-star options in the city include Radisson Collection Bilbao, Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, and Hotel Carlton, all of which are close to the Guggenheim museum.