Yes, now. You need the sun now. Don’t wait until spring, it’s time to dust off the travel bag and load up on factor 30. There’s plenty of joy to be had at home on those fresh, winter mornings, but we all need a dose of extra vitamin D every now and again, right?
Here are five of the best winter sun golf destinations to visit right now. Time to boot up Skyscanner and book that dream getaway…
1. Al Mouj Golf, Oman
Oman might not be a destination that immediately springs to mind when you think about golf, unlike neighbouring Dubai, which is now a golfing hotbed.
Those in the know regard Oman’s understated capital, Muscat, as the ‘Middle East’s best-kept secret’. Its Grand Mosque remains the star attraction and there are no plans to build record-breaking skyscrapers here. It’s home to a world-class golf course, too – the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj.
In February, the European Tour returns to this spectacular links and desert layout for the Oman Open. As golf fans, we’re spoilt with dramatic views on a weekly basis as the pros follow the sun around the globe. However, nowhere surpasses Al Mouj, which is located on a stunning two-kilometre stretch of pristine coastline.
It oozes class, from its teaching academy and floodlit par-3 nine-hole course, to its driving range and restaurant. The course itself dips and weaves its way through humps and mounds, providing a stern test, perhaps a little too demanding for some (it’s 7,342 yards off the tips), but that matters not for it’s such a thrill from start to finish. Then there are those spine-tingling Indian Ocean and mountain vistas.
Talking of the ocean, make sure you book yourself a tour of the Daymaniyat Islands – a UNESCO-protected archipelago just a 30-minute boat ride away. The sight of a turtle might just beat holing a birdie putt.
November to March is peak season for travel in Oman. Blue skies are guaranteed, as is a pleasant temperature; it’s hot, but not too hot.
‘It oozes class, from its teaching academy and floodlit par-3 nine-hole course, to its driving range and restaurant’
2. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi
In terms of sport, Abu Dhabi is probably more widely known for staging the Grand Prix than playing host to holidaying golfers. But it’s not all about fast cars in the UAE’s capital.
Abu Dhabi is regarded as an outdoor playground and had Lewis Hamilton decided to celebrate his recent victory at Yas Marina with a round of golf, he would have been spoilt for choice.
Saadiyat Beach, which was designed by Gary Player, was the Arabian Gulf’s first beachfront course – and it’s a masterpiece. Like many of the championship courses in the Middle East, it’s a bit of a brute off the back tees. Player’s sadistic side can be forgiven, however, as there are five tee boxes to choose from – so go easy on yourself.
We recommend brushing up on your bunker skills before setting off, because these beautiful beasts – they really are a work of art – line the fairways and surround many a green. At least you’ll have access to top-of-the-range practice facilities. The whole place will make you feel like a pro.
So, admire the white sands and turquoise waters, enjoy the wildlife – keep an eye out for gazelles, dolphins and turtles – and don’t worry if you take a couple of extra shots to escape the bunkers.
It’s also worth noting that Abu Dhabi is a hub for international flights, and time saved on travel equates to more time on the course. With the dreamy Yas Links and 27 holes at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, host venue on the European Tour, you can create yourself quite a golf trip in this part of the world.
3. Abama, Tenerife
The Canary Islands is a tried-and-tested favourite holiday destination, largely because of its favourable year-round climate. Whereas the winter chill affects most of Europe, Tenerife remains pleasantly warm, with temperatures hovering around the late teens and early twenties. It can be the perfect solution for when winter cabin fever sets in.
Now, picture the scene: lush green fairways lined with palm trees, dramatic views from elevated tees, and the nothing but the ocean for as far as you can see. Abama Golf is one of those island courses that will rejuvenate the senses.
The Atlantic Ocean and the island of La Gomera can be spotted from almost every hole. In addition to the wonderful vistas, this Dave Thomas design is great fun with its undulating terrain and elevated greens which, once found, are far from easy to safely two-putt on.
A word of advice: try and book a round at Tecina, the spectacular clifftop course on the delightful island of La Gomera. You’ll soon discover there’s lots of super golf on offer in Tenerife, more than enough to keep you on the fairways for a good week or so. What’s more, the island is easy to navigate, so you can easily tick off a good few courses.
4. Ba Na Hills Golf Club, Vietnam
Asia is not hot and humid all year round as some people may assume. Danang, in central Vietnam, offers up high teens to mid twenties from December through to March, which is very comfortable for golf.
Vietnam’s reputation as a world-class golf destination is growing rapidly. Specifically, Danang is home to six clubs, and a number of the industry’s leading architects have left their mark here. Luke Donald may be relatively new to the design business, but what a piece of land he had to work with for his first project at Ba Na Hills, now a multi award-winning course.
Located at the foot of a mountain range, each hole is beautifully framed with stunning jungle backdrops. Just when you think you can’t be wowed any more, the back nine cranks up a notch. The sweeping par 5s at 11 and 14 more than play their part in stretching Ba Na Hills to close to 8,000 yards, the longest layout in Vietnam.
Anyone lucky enough to play here will leave knowing they have experienced something more than just a golf course. That one golfer who never stops banging on about their latest stunning golf adventure? That could be you.
‘Anyone lucky enough to play here will leave knowing they have experienced something more than just a golf course’
5. Abaco Club, The Bahamas
Ok, ok… so The Abaco Club is one of the most stunning courses in the Caribbean, and yes, The Bahamas are, well, The Bahamas, but the point we want to make is this: mid December through to April is the best time to go – and go you must.
The only downside is that prices are at their highest outside of the hurricane season. However, if you’re looking to visit The Abaco Club – and only guests staying at the resort are allowed to play the course, as well as members – then we’re going to assume that money is no object.
Located on the Great Abaco Island, The Abaco Club is the kind of place you’d run should with a billionaire or two. Professional golfers, too, have to known to hang out here and practice, which is no great surprise.
The links-style layout has a British feel; it’s beautifully rugged and a joy to play. That par 5 to finish might well be the best finishing hole in the Caribbean – which is saying something.
WHAT NEXT? Explore the stunning Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.