The third hole of the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya Resort (Getty Images)
Members of the European Tour Properties network of international golf venues figure prominently in the new rankings published by Golf World (UK) magazine in their widely respected ‘Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe’ listing for 2014.
Seven member venues, comprising courses in Estonia, Finland, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, feature in the November 2013 edition, re-enforcing the growing reputation of Tour Properties as highly desirable venues to visit and play.
Among the notable achievements in the Golf World listing were the rise of PGA Catalunya Resort near Girona from eighth to fifth, placing the Neil Coles and Angel Gallardo designed Stadium Course as Number One in Spain, and the emergence of The Dutch – future host of the KLM Open - in Holland onto the list for the first time in 86th place.
European Tour Properties is a network of world class golf venues featuring championship courses, a comprehensive range of facilities both on and off the course, providing unrivalled service standards for members and guests. Currently, there are eight Tour Destinations and four Tour Courses in the expanding portfolio.
Three of those Destinations all feature in the new top 20 in the Golf World ranking, headed by PGA Catalunya Resort in fifth, 2018 Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National in sixth and Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort in 14th.
PGA Catalunya Resort, which has hosted both the Open de España and The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in recent years, has earned its reputation as one of the continent’s leading resorts due to a number of significant enhancements both on and off the course.
Le Golf National, located on the outskirts of Versailles, has been home to the Alstom Open de France on more than 20 occasions, and the acclaimed Albatros Course will stage The Ryder Cup match between Europe and the United States in five years’ time.
While Le Golf National slipped one place in the listing, Terre Blanche’s Chateau Course in the heart of Provence jumped four places to 14th. As well as being a Tour Destination, Terre Blanche is also home to the first European Tour Performance Institute, a world class teaching facility on the Mediterranean coastline which was opened less than two years ago.
Terre Blanche has hosted the French Riviera Masters in 2012 and 2013 while the resort’s touring professional, Raphaël Jacquelin, captured this season’s Open de España after a play-off with Max Kieffer, who is attached to another European Tour Destination, Golf & Country Club Fleesensee, in Germany.
A rise of four places to 53rd is the reward for Quinta do Lago’s continued popularity in Portugal’s Algarve region. A new entry at 57th position in the previous listing, Quinta do Lago’s three courses and luxurious resort facilities have enabled the venue to enhance its already high reputation.
The rapid rise of The Dutch, a signature 18-hole championship course designed by 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie in conjunction with European Golf Design, is one of the features of the new Golf World list. Quality, exclusivity and attentive service are key to the reputation The Dutch has quickly gained throughout The Netherlands and beyond since its official opening in May 2011.
As a new entry to the ranking, The Dutch sits just three places behind Estonian Golf & Country Club, which moves up from 84th to 83rd and underlines the venue’s growing maturity and popularity with visitors from all over Europe.
Another European Golf Design, Linna Golf in Finland, a spectacular layout carved through the natural beauty of a Nordic pine forest retains its position in the Top 100 at No.94.
David MacLaren, Director of Property and Venue Development for The European Tour, expressed his delight at seven venues making the Top 100 list with an eighth, Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany – host of the 2015 Solheim Cup - featuring in the ‘Next 100’ ranking.
He said: “It is extremely gratifying to have such a strong and diverse representation of European Tour Properties in Golf World’s Top 100. We had five courses featured in 2011 and, with the expansion of our programme over the past two years, that number has now increased to seven.
“All the teams involved at each of our partner venues – not just the ones who feature in this list – deserve high praise for their effort and commitment in merging The European Tour brand with their own distinctive style, delivering outstanding facilities and world-class services to their members and visitors.
“A special word of congratulations to PGA Catalunya Resort for reaching Number One in Spain, Terre Blanche for their continued rise to worldwide prominence and The Dutch for joining such elite company. At the same time every venue making this list deserves every praise.”
Golf World’s Top 100 also includes numerous European Tour host venues – past and present – including this season’s hosts El Saler ( Open de España), Bro Hof Slot (Nordea Masters), Saint-Nom-La-Bretèche (Seve Trophy by Golf+), Oceanico Victoria Golf Club (Portugal Masters), Crans sur Sierre (Omega European Masters) and Thracian Cliffs (Volvo World Match Play Championship).
For the record, the top three in the Golf World list reads: Number One – Les Bordes, Orleans, France; Number Two – Morfontaine, Paris, France; Number Three – Royal Hague, The Hague, Holland.