Win tee times at some of the world's premier courses.
  • News
  • Top 100 Golf Courses of Continental Europe 2012

Top 100 Golf Courses of Continental Europe 2012

25 January, 2012

Top 100 Golf Courses of Continental Europe 2012

Our latest and long-awaited Continental European Top 100 golf course rankings are unveiled

25th January 2012

One hundred and ninety-one golf courses were on our ever-growing shortlist for a position within our latest and long-awaited Continental European Top 100 ranking list.

Assembling the list was tricky, as we have yet to find anyone who has played anywhere nearly enough top Continental European courses. The likelihood is that nobody will ever try and play them all, as there are many challenges golfing across a continent that incorporates so many different countries and languages. If you have played them all or have played a significant proportion then please get in touch… I’d love to hear from you.

However, we do have many contributors that reach across Europe and it was really a question of placing all the contenders in the mix and then sequencing the results. Sounds easy?

Golf courses from sixteen Continental European countries made our list and for the first time we have a course from Iceland in the hundred. When Cédric, our Icelandic correspondent, visited Keilir in 2010 he said the club had added some new back tees and it’s now “clearly the best course in the country, both in terms of design and quality, not to mention the unique front nine in the lava”. Keilir debuts at position 99.

At the opposite – and warmer – end of Europe, we have the arrival of the new Sir Nick Faldo-designed course at Elea Golf Club, which opened in Cyprus in October 2010. Despite the presence of another good Cypriot course, Aphrodite Hills, Elea has managed to further raise the golfing bar in Cyprus.

Domain Imperial remains the only golf course from Switzerland to make the hundred, but we have two new entries from Turkey and Perry Dye’s Lykia Links moves meteorically up the table. Thomson Perrett & Lobb’s Carya makes its European debut, as does Bob Hunt’s Sueno (Pines). With five Turkish courses now in the hundred, Turkey really is a destination for the golfing aficionado.

The Netherlands is an overlooked golfing destination but take note, this small but perfectly formed country has the best collection of links courses outside Britain and Ireland. David Davis, our Benelux correspondent, has recently written several detailed essays on Dutch golf courses. If you are interested in finding out more then visit the Top 100 News Channel and check out David’s articles. The Dutch and Rosendaelsche are both new entries in our European hundred, which now means The Netherlands can boast seven courses in the Continental European Top 100.

Belgium is another of the Low Countries that punches well above its weight. Despite its diminutive size, Belgium has four Royals that are worthy of inspection and Royal Zoute continues to lead the Belgian way.

Spain and Portugal are still the primary destinations for those seeking warm climate golf. Spain is the original holiday destination for winter-weary Europeans and the southern Costas continue to be popular for the weather. However, those in search of the best Spanish course should now head to Barcelona and the Costa Brava region because the Stadium course at PGA de Catalunya has finally knocked Valderrama from the Spanish top spot. Portugal’s Monte Rei remains ahead of Oitavos Dunes in our European rankings, but from Iberia, only Spain can boast new entries, the highest of which is the Arriba course at Puerta de Hierro – however, we did feature the Arriba course in our 2006 Continental European rankings. Finca Cortesin, host to the 2009 World Match Play Championship, is a brand new entry, as is Son Gual and Abama on the islands of Majorca and Tenerife respectively. The Links course at Emporda is another Spanish new entry but I feel that Robert von Hagge’s creations in Girona (Links and Forest courses) are underrated.

Five courses from Germany are new entries in our 2012 European rankings. Germany has formerly proven to be a difficult country for us to unravel, but Jens Bernitzky has recently joined the Top 100 team. Jens runs his own Golf Tourism Marketing business, the “Deutsche Golf Strasse®” (German Golf Trail), the first private golf cooperation in Germany and together we aim to publish the first ever ranking list of Germany’s Top 100 Golf Courses. Christoph Stadler refurbished the Harry Colt-designed course of Frankfurter Golf Club recently and it’s our highest new German entry in the European hundred. Koln Golf & Country Club at Refrath returns to the European chart as does Bernhard von Limburger’s Garlstedter Heide course at Club Zur Vahr in Bremen. Arnold Palmer’s layout at the Sporting Club Berlin is the final German new entry, which joins Nick Faldo’s course at the impressive 63-hole Sporting Club Berlin.

Austria now has four courses listed in the hundred and there are three new entries, although Gut Altentann appeared in our 2006 European rankings. Adamstal and Schloss Schonborn join our highest ranked Austrian course, Fontana.

There are three fewer courses from Italy in our European list this year, but we have one new Italian entry at Sir Rocco Forte’s Verdura Resort. There are 36 Kyle Phillips-designed holes on offer at Verdura, but the old fashioned out-and-back Verdura West course just has the edge over the also solid East layout. Both of Verdura’s courses feature prominently in our latest Italian rankings.

We have already mentioned Iceland, but all the Nordic countries continue to provide outstanding golfing facilities. Sweden has the lion’s share of golf courses, indeed there are more Swedish golf courses than across the rest of the Nordic countries put together. Nine Swedish courses appear on our European chart and there’s one new entry at the impressive PGA of Sweden National facility, which boasts two courses from the burgeoning Kyle Phillips portfolio. The Lakes course is the more highly rated layout at the PGA National, but the Links course is also a fine layout in its own right.

Surprisingly, no Norwegian courses made our European rankings, despite the best endeavours of our own Norway and Sweden correspondent. Jan Nordstrom has played virtually every course in Norway and is working his way systematically through the courses of Sweden. Jan’s view is that the quality of top Swedish courses is so much higher than anything available in his Norwegian homeland. However, if you are planning to play golf in Norway, there are still some great courses to savour, so check out our extended Norway Top 20.

Denmark is a strong golfing nation and the addition of the new 36-hole facility at the Scandinavian Golf Club simply adds to the country’s strength and depth. The Old course at the Scandinavian is our highest Danish new entry, even though it only opened its tees for play in 2010, one year ahead of the club’s New course.

Finland retains three courses in the European table and two are available for play at Kytäjä Golf Club. Tom McBroom, who knows a thing or two about designing great Canadian golf courses, designed both layouts at Kytäjä, which bear remarkable similarities to the Canadian landscape.

If you are searching for an undiscovered European golfing destination, then you may want to look at Bulgaria. Thracian Cliffs is located on the northern Black Sea Coast and it’s a Black Knight signature design that opened in 2011. The course is routed, hole after hole, along the cliffs on magical land of the once powerful Thracian kingdoms. The setting is pure theatre and Gary Player is quite rightly enthusiastic about the site: “You will not find another golf course like this anywhere on the planet”, commented Player. “Pebble Beach is renowned as the best site and I would say Thracian Cliffs is twice as good as Pebble Beach.” Now that is a statement.

France remains the cornerstone of our European rankings and there are nineteen French courses on the list. Three French courses have dropped off the list only to be replaced by three new Gallic layouts. Barbaroux, Joyenval (Marly) and Hardelot (Les Pins) make an appearance for the first time and we also have a new Continental European No.1. Morfontaine heads the European rankings again, just as the club did in 2008. Les Bordes maintains its Continental European No.2 position but swaps places in the French national rankings with Morfontaine. With around 550 golf courses across France there is not only strength in numbers but also depth in quality. Numerous layouts from the Golden Age still exist, occasionally in their original form, and we hope to extend our French rankings in the not too distant future.

We always welcome feedback, so please feel free to let us know what you think of our latest Continental European Top 100. We don’t claim to be “definitive” but we do like to think that we’re the most “informed” and considered golf course rankings in the business. If you’ve played any of our featured European courses, we’d love to know what you think, so why not post a course review or two?

Keith Baxter

2012 Course Country Move
1 Morfontaine France Up 2
2 Les Bordes France No change
3 PGA de Catalunya (Stadium) Spain Up 1
4 Valderrama Spain Down 3
5 Noordwijkse Netherlands Up 3
6 Royal Zoute Belgium Down 1
7 Chantilly (Vineuil) France Down 1
8 Bro Hof Slott (Stadium) Sweden Down 1
9 Hamburger Falkenstein Germany Up 4
10 National (L'Albatros) France Down 1
11 Fontainebleau France Up 12
12 Monte Rei Portugal Down 2
13 Koninklijke Haagsche Netherlands Up 4
14 Kennemer (Colt & Van Hengel) Netherlands Down 2
15 Barsebäck (Masters) Sweden Up 3
16 Sporting Club Berlin (Faldo) Germany No change
17 Lubker Denmark Up 2
18 Biella Italy Down 4
19 Oitavos Dunes Portugal Up 1
20 Prince de Provence France Up 12
21 Sotogrande Spain Up 1
22 Lykia Turkey Up 26
23 Spérone France Down 8
24 Oceanico (Old) Portugal No change
25 I Roveri Italy Down 2
26 Budersand Sylt Germany Up 23
27 San Lorenzo Portugal Up 11
28 Royal Fagnes Belgium Up 26
29 Domaine de Terre Blanche (Château) France Up 22
30 Praia D'El Rey Portugal Up 5
31 Vasatorps (Tournament) Sweden Up 27
32 Thracian Cliffs Bulgaria New Entry
33 Utrecht de Pan Netherlands Up 15
34 Domaine Imperial Switzerland Down 4
35 El Saler Spain Down 4
36 Scandinavian (Old) Denmark New Entry
37 Kempferhof France Up 22
38 Las Brisas Spain Up 12
39 Carya Turkey New Entry
40 Santander Spain Down 3
41 Troia Portugal Down 7
42 Fontana Austria No change
43 Kytäjä G.C. (South East) Finland No change
44 Royal Belgium (Old) Belgium Down 19
45 Eindhoven Netherlands Down 12
46 Elea Cyprus New Entry
47 Seddiner See (South) Germany Down 18
48 Verdura (West) Italy New Entry
49 Dutch Netherlands New Entry
50 Gut Larchenhof (Jack Nicklaus) Germany Down 3
51 Halmstad (North) Sweden Down 20
52 St Germain France Up 30
53 Cornelia Turkey Down 26
54 Medoc (Chateaux) France Up 26
55 La Reserva Spain Up 9
56 RSHE Club de Campo (North) Spain Down 28
57 Castelconturbia (Blue & Yellow) Italy Down 36
58 Seignosse France Down 22
59 Frankfurter Germany New Entry
60 Le Touquet (La Mer) France Up 23
61 Puerta de Hierro (Arriba) Spain New Entry
62 Adamstal Austria New Entry
63 Koln - Refrath Germany New Entry
64 Villa d'Este Italy Down 24
65 Barbaroux France New Entry
66 Visby Sweden Up 28
67 Finca Cortesin Spain New Entry
68 Quinta de Cima Portugal Up 10
69 Joyenval (Marly) France New Entry
70 Falsterbo Sweden Down 34
71 Torino (Blue) Italy Up 1
72 Zur Vahr Bremen (Garlstedter Heide) Germany New Entry
73 Puerta de Hierro (Abajo) Spain Down 13
74 Rosendaelsche Netherlands New Entry
75 Gut Altentann Austria New Entry
76 Royal Antwerp Belgium Down 7
77 Sporting Club Berlin (Palmer) Germany New Entry
78 Sevilla Spain Down 5
79 Sueno (Pines) Turkey New Entry
80 Holstebro Denmark Down 5
81 St Nom-la-Breteche (Red) France Up 12
82 Le Querce Italy Down 43
83 Ljunghusen (Yellow & Red) Sweden Down 37
84 Hossegor France Up 12
85 PGA National Sweden (Lakes) Sweden New Entry
86 Schloss Schonborn Austria New Entry
87 Son Gual Spain New Entry
88 Furnas Portugal Down 35
89 Sand Sweden Down 31
90 El Prat (Red) Spain Down 2
91 Porto Santo Portugal Down 1
92 Esbjerg (Marbaek) Denmark Down 25
93 Linna Finland Down 27
94 Abama Spain New Entry
95 Emporda (Links) Spain New Entry
96 Hardelot (Les Pins) France New Entry
97 Moliets France Down 35
98 Antalya (Sultan) Turkey Down 34
99 Keilir Iceland New Entry
100 Kytäjä G.C. (North West) Finland Down 1

Click the link to see the latest Continental European Top 100 in detail.

Breakdown of courses by country: Austria 4, Belgium 4, Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 1, Denmark 4, Finland 3, France 19, Germany 9, Iceland 1, Italy 7, Netherlands 7, Portugal 9, Spain 16, Sweden 9, Switzerland 1, Turkey 5.

For those interested, the twenty-five courses that made way for the new are: Miklagard, Hilversumsche, Bogogno (Conte), Ullna, Beuerberg, Rethmar, Steiermarkischer, Limburg, Pevero, Courson (Vert/Noir), St Leon-Rot (St Leon), Oceanico (Victoria), St Leon-Rot (Rot), Frosaker, Hills, Club De Campo Villa de Madrid (Negro), Rungsted, St Dionys, Skjoldenaesholm (RTJ), Roma-Acquasanta, PGA National Sweden (Links), Milano, Chiberta, Royal Mougins, Moss & Rygge.


Thank you

You've been subscribed.

Already Subscribed

You are already subscribed to our newsletter. Thank you for subscribing.

We've made some changes

Top 100 Golf Courses has a new look and feel. If you have comments or questions about the changes, please let us know.

Submit Feedback