With an All Square ranking of #70 in the world’s Top 100 courses, Les Bordes in France is also ranked #1 in continental Europe. The beautiful lakes of the Sologne come into play on the majority of holes on this typically testing 1986 design from Robert Von Hagge. Nestled in the Loire Valley in north-central France, it’s often rated as the most difficult course in Europe and one of the most beautiful with echoes of Augusta National. And like the home of the Masters, it’s extremely exclusive.
Noordwijkse Golfclub, Netherlands
This acclaimed golf club is located among the Dutch dunes of Noordwijk, in the province of South Holland. The combination of its layout near the North Sea shore, which gives it its links character, and pine woods, together with remarkable views makes this course an outstanding challenge. The Dutch Open has been held here nine times, with winners including Seve Ballesteros (1986), and Bernhard Langer (1992 and 2001). Completed in the early 70s by the English group of Cotton, Penninck & Laurie, Nordwijkse Golfclub is Holland‘s best course.
The Stadium course at PGA Catalunya Resort, which hosted the Spanish Open in 2014, is a par-72 parkland/woodland layout with pretty lakes framed by pine tress and the Pyrenees mountains. Located close to Barcelona, the course was the brainchild of Neil Coles and Angel Gerardo of the European Tour, who were looking to create a venue in the Catalonia region for Tour competitions. It’s an entertaining challenge with tree-lined fairways, carefully positioned bunkers and elevated tees offering excellent vistas.
Located in sun-kissed Andalusia, this Robert Tent Jones Snr design hosted the legendary 1997 Ryder Cup which saw Europe win by a point under the captaincy of Seve Ballesteros. Valderrama is kept in immaculate condition and each hole has six tees catering for all levels. This is a varied challenge and the crosswinds that often blow here here make it tough to play. The par five 17th is the signature hole as it features strategically placed bunkers behind a green that slopes forwards to an emerald lake.
Renovated in recent years by American Kyle Phillips, this is still a relatively short and narrow course compared to most modern layouts. Morfontaine is an exclusive, very natural looking course beautifully situated in the woods north of Paris and is excellently maintained. The emphasis is on strategic approach play to the large undulating greens surrounded by stylish bunkering. It’s not a ‘grip it and rip it’ course, but a very scenic challenge for the thinking golfer with echoes of the highly regarded Sunningdale in the south of England.
Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, Sweden
The Stadium course at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club northwest of Stockholm opened in 2007 and is stunningly beautiful, situated directly on Lake Malaren and crowned by Bro Hof Castle. Measuring 8,054 yards, it’s considerably long with manicured fairways and several large lakes playing a huge role in the design. The Castle Course opened in 2010, designed to the same quality, but offering a very different challenge, with elements of a Scottish links, tougher bunkers and narrower fairways. Both were designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and the club hosted the Scandinavian Masters in 2010 and was a host candidate for the 2018 Ryder Cup.