European golf courses have developed enormously in the last 150 years and today thousands of courses serve millions of players from Portugal and Norway to Finland and Ukraine. Germany and France are the leaders, each with some half million players and 700 or more courses, but the game is also very popular in Spain and, a bit surprisingly given the climate, Sweden. It is by contrast the warm weather that has made Spain’s Costa Brava and Costa del Sol, and also Portugal’s Algarve, major golf destinations, not the least for golf-starved Scandinavians during the winter.

Some of the smaller countries also share a passion for the game; there are over 150 courses open for play in Austria , over 200 in the Netherlands and half a dozen in tiny Luxembourg. Among the standouts are Portugal’s Monte Rei and Oitavos Dunes, Spain’s Valderrama Golf Club and PGA Catalunya, Sweden’s Bro Hof Slott, France’s Les Bordes and Morfontaine, Germany’s St. Leo Rot Golf Club and Bulgaria’s Thracian Cliffs Golf Resort (known as the Pebble Beach of Europe).

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The cradle of golf

If you look back in the history of golf, people started in the 15th century with the golf game on the south coast of Scotland. However, experts are controversial, who began the first with golfing. Because in Holland and in Belgium you began before the 15th century with a golf-like game. It was played above all outside the larger cities. However, as a significant difference to today’s golf, there should be no holes. Therefore, many the kingdom “Fife”, near today’s St. Andrews, is considered to be the birthplace of the golf.

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