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Eat your greens

When it comes to choosing a golf destination, it’s not just about the courses you play, but also the ones you eat. Alex Mead takes to the world’s fairways to seek out the places that can successfully appease both the Ramsay and Rose in all of us

Costa Navarino Messinia, Greece

Costa Navarino is the pinnacle of Greek golf. It has two courses, ranked No.1 and No.2 in Greece: The Dunes and The Bay. Google ‘Navarino Bay’ and you’ll find tales of a civil war naval battle in the 1800s; add the word ‘golf’ and the only battle is with your handicap. The Dunes opened back in 2010, its multi-levelled greens forcing you to be accurate on your approach shots. The Bay launched amid the olive groves and mountain canyons a year later, and two further courses are slated to double the golf offering of this luxury oasis on the west coast of the Peloponnese. With a resort of this magnitude, you need plentiful food options, and Costa Navarino has them – 20 to be precise. There’s a steak grill, an Italian, a Middle Eastern, a classic taverna and even an American-style diner, but if it’s quality cuts and seafood you seek, then Flame in the clubhouse is ideal. Japanese Kobe, Australian Angus, American wagyu, Uruguayan Aberdeen Angus; côte de boeuf, tomahawk, T-bone, tenderloin, rib-eye, picanha – whether it’s a breed or a cut, they’ve got it covered. Go for shanks of veal or lamb, Greek black chicken, Ibérico pork chop (served with sweet, spice-cured pork belly) or go all out on the surf-and-turf of Uruguayan rib-eye and half a lobster. It’s not delicate, there aren’t edible flowers; it’s a Josper grill doing its thing. Alongside views of The Dunes. Superb.

Onuki 2

Travel Details

Eat at: Flame for steak and seafood.


Erinvale Estate Cape Winelands, South Africa

The South African Open had never stayed in the same venue for two consecutive years – until it came to Erinvale on its 100th anniversary in 2003, and stayed for 2004. It’s the best bits of South Africa in one setting, its neighbours being the vineyards and olive groves of the Western Cape, not forgetting the Hottentots Holland Mountains and the Helderberg Nature Reserve. If a stray duiker finds its way onto your round, you’ll know where it came from. Ever since the course opened in 1995, it’s been there or thereabouts in talks of South Africa’s best, offering something to every level of golfer – though dealing with the gradient can be the biggest challenge, so target golf is required. For golfing oenophile’s this is utopia: just follow your nose and every turn seems to reveal a good winery. Morgenster, dating back to 1711, is well worth seeking out. It splits its land with vines and orchards on one half and flora and fauna on the other. The owner’s aim is to produce the best Italian-style olive oil outside of Italy and the best Bordeaux-style wine beyond France, and it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t succeed. Its restaurant, 95 at Morgenster, is exceptional. The wine list alone would be enough reason to visit, but throw in the Italian-inspired menu, including an exquisite homemade ravioli with Karoo lamb shoulder and sage butter and you’ll be rolling home happy.

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Travel Details

Eat at: 95 at Morgenster for Italian.


Streamsong Resort Florida, USA

On a piece of land that was once the ocean floor and, much later, mined for phosphate to make fertilisers, Streamsong (above) is home to three unique and brilliant courses. Tom Doak (the man behind four of the world’s top 100) made one, ‘Blue’, Bill Coore and double-Masters winner Ben Crenshaw made another, ‘Red’, then, a few years later, arguably the big-ticket architect of recent years, Gil Hanse (he who designed Rio’s Olympic course), added a third, ‘Black’. Beyond the wide fairways and spectacular vistas of the golf, you’ll find shooting, archery, fishing and a spa. While the lakeside clubhouse might be the first port of call for a post-round grouper sandwich or monster Porterhouse, the signature dining room is the SottoTerra. Open for dinner only, the fresh pastas and pizza are excellent, but even better is the stone oven-cooked market fish with hazelnut pesto or the veal ossobuco with truffle risotto.

Streamsong Black 2  Larry Lambrecht

Travel Details

Eat at: SottoTerra for classic Italian.


Finca Cortesin Andalucia, Spain

As anyone who’s played or visited Wentworth will testify, it’s a hard place to leave, yet when the World Match Play departed, it had to go somewhere special. And it did. Finca Cortesin (above right) in Andalucía, a resort based in the undulating hills of southern Spain with the Mediterranean on one side and the Casares Mountains on the other, is pretty much the best of the country in a 215ha estate. When the world’s top players traversed its almost excessive length of 6,802m, they found a breathtaking course cut through a valley, greens comparable with Augusta, albeit with an awful lot of sandy danger en route (a ball-plugging 100 bunkers). A ripped-up scorecard is made up for shortly afterwards with no fewer than five dining options. While all are good, Kabuki Raw is exceptional, blending Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine to exacting standards. Plates such as wagyu beef ribs with teriyaki sauce and tsukemono (pickled veg), and wild shrimp tortillas helped gain it a coveted Michelin star, following in the footsteps of the original Madrid restaurant. Elsewhere on the resort, Sicilian chef Andrea Tumbarello fills his Don Giovanni menu with myriad freshly made pastas and pizzas: think tagliatelle with prosecco and truffle, and carbonara rich with guanciale. It’s the Italian dishes you want, but better.

Fincacort 13

Travel Details

Eat at: Don Giovanni for Italian or Kabuki Raw for Japanese.


Andermatt Switzerland

Courses are rarely as dramatic as that at The Chedi, whose 18 holes are set right in the heart of the Swiss Alps. It’s a cliché to say how distracting a setting can be, but genuinely, it’s a challenge not to take your eye off the ball when teeing off in a valley of mountains. Better known for its skiing, when the blanket of white is pulled back by the summer sun, a golf course of immense natural beauty is revealed, designed by German golf course architect Kurt Rossknecht. It’s hosted the Swiss Open Championship – so soon after it opened it still had that new course smell – and so taxing was the course, the winner could only manage three over for his first trio of 18s. When he won, he was alone as a player to score under par in the whole field. But, to be honest, with scenery like this, golf doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about the scorecard, go for single-hole glory and talk about the occasional birdie or par amid chat about what a spectacular location you’ve just played golf in. On the culinary front, perhaps the beauty of modern-day golf destinations such as this is that you can almost get whatever takes you fancy. Our pick of the resort is The Japanese Restaurant at The Chedi. Expect top-notch saké, sushi, a sashimi bar and tempura counter, and, with space for only 40, it’s intimate, too.

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Travel Details

Eat at: The Japanese Restaurant at The Chedi for Japanese.


Gleneagles Scotland

The emergence of branch-line railways had a huge impact on Scottish golf, whether it was to make courses accessible – as it did with Turnberry – or to inspire the creation of new ones, as was the case with Gleneagles. The King’s Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened in 1919 and hosted the first ‘Ryder Cup’ in 1921. The halfway house marks a welcome stop: Lorne sausages packed inside excellent bread from the hotel’s bakery. Wash it down with a double dram and the next nine holes will be a breeze. This is an almost faultless golf destination, which is why chef Andrew Fairlie fits right in with his eponymous two- star Michelin restaurant. Autumn is the time to visit, not only because the estate will be showing its true colours, but also for game season. There’s no better Scottish chef (as Scotland’s only chef with two stars) to demonstrate what can be done with the haul. He’s got the 250 or so herbs, vegetables and fruit from his own walled garden to work with, so whether it’s roe deer, pigeon or partridge, Fairlie is your man. One of the finest golf restaurants anywhere in the world.

Andrew Fairlie Scallops Spoots Squat Lobsters Sea Veg

Travel Details

Eat at: Restaurant Andrew Fairlie for modern European.


Terre Blanche Provence, France

Golfers have been heading to Provence and the Côte d’Azur since the late 1800s, and why wouldn’t they? Back then, if they’d headed out to Terre Blanche, an estate roughly the size of Monaco, it would still have borne more than a passing resemblance to what it is today. It has been in numerous hands since – owners have included Sean Connery, Swiss banks and, now, a German billionaire – but each one has appreciated what it is: a perfect slice of Provençal life. What its neighbouring villages lack, however, is two championship courses. Amid a backdrop of medieval villages and southern Alps, the late architect Dave Thomas wove two courses into a landscape of lakes, valleys, ravines, forests and waterfalls. Every restaurant in Provence is spoilt for choice on the produce front, so the differentiator is what happens between farm and fork. At Terre Blanche, the middle man is Philippe Jourdin of Le Faventia, whose place of work boasts views reaching across the hotel’s infinity pool and up to the hilltop villages in the distance. Using the producers right on his doorstep, Jourdin’s Mediterranean menu has gained him a Michelin star. Sample dishes? Foie gras with apricot chutney, apricot tartare and amaretto froth is both delicate and indulgent, while seafood dishes rarely get as decadent as turbot cooked in seaweed butter with caviar and sea-scented baby potatoes. To go fully native, opt for his Les Jardins de Provence taster, celebrating everything local, including stuffed courgette flowers with tomatoes and almonds, artichokes with truffles, raspberry charlotte with rhubarb ice cream, and cheese.

Faventia Desserts 2018 12

Travel Details

Eat at: Le Faventia for Mediterranean.


Le Golf National Versailles, France

Golf in France was given the biggest shot in the arm when it won the 2018 Ryder Cup hosting rights. In Paris, it has the perfect host city, and in Le Golf National, it has a course designed specifically for match play golf, the Albatros. While the on-site catering is fine, it’s not remotely comparable to the quality of the golf, which is why you need to head to nearby Versailles to dine and, specifically, to Gordon Ramsay au Trianon. With the approach a colonnade walkway floored with black and white marble titles, the food has a lot to live up to. Former Alain Ducasse chef Frédéric Larquemin does not disappoint, delivering Ramsay’s French take on his flagship three-starred London restaurant with aplomb. In some ways, it’s what you’d expect: foie gras and smoked eel, turnip, beetroot and cider jelly; crispy belly and roasted loin of suckling pig with spiced shoulder sausage; Dover sole with shiitake, razor clams and celtuce – it’s basically delicious Michelin-style dishes, with a tiny twist. But like the golf and Versailles, it’s all so well put together, it’s impossible to complain.

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Travel Details

Eat at: Gordon Ramsay au Trianon for French.


Barnbougle Tasmania, Australia

Even if you don’t recognise the name, you’ll have seen the pictures: the two courses of Barnbougle (Dunes and Lost Farm) are renowned the world over for their dramatic coastal setting. Dunes is the forerunner, opening in 2004 – Tom Doak was so captivated by the otherworldly feel of the landscape and coastline, he set out to create a Celtic links-style course. Sister course Lost Farm had so much good material for golf that it didn’t stop at 18 holes, squeezing in two extras – 13A and 18A, the first ‘too good to leave out’ and the latter a bonus at the end. In terms of food and drink, you’re spoilt. The vineyards in Tasmania are often too small for international export, so you get the best drops in-state, and award-winning single malts, too. As for produce, Tasmania is Australia’s real gourmand state. It’s here you get the abalone, mussels, oysters, crabs and lobsters lapping up the icy cool Tasman, and it’s also here you get rich fertile farmland. Queensland might be tropical, but Tasmania produce has proper flavour, and the Lost Farm restaurant kitchen takes the best of what it has to offer. They know what they’re doing, too, because the golf courses are only a small patch of unfarmable land on the family-owned 5,200ha property. The rest of it is used for growing a huge chunk of the state’s potatoes and keeping 5,000 head of cattle. They have their own herb and veg patch on the golf course, and anything they don’t grow or rear they get from their fellow farmers. What to eat? Oysters with raspberry vinegar and shallots and, of course, the farm’s own 500g rib-eye.

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Travel Details

Eat at: Lost Farm for modern Australian.


Budersand Sylt Germany

Not even 20km off the coast of northern Germany you’ll find Sylt island, home to 20,000 or so people. Once part of Denmark, now German, and linked to the mainland by a causeway, its main attractions are the 40km-long sandy beach (and the surfing that goes with it), 150 species of plants (45 per cent of which are threatened species), 600 species of butterflies and an incredibly good golf course. Budersand Sylt was built on a former military base on a piece of land full of natural sand dunes by the then-unknown German designer Rolf-Stephan Hansen. So seamlessly did he blend the course amid the beauty of the landscape, that it would hardly have ruffled a feather of any of the numerous species of bird that reside there. For low and high handicappers alike, the shared enemy is the weather, whipping in wildly to send balls awry, and the sand, which awaits at every turn. The restaurant has decided to head to its ancestors for inspiration rather than its current masters, with Nordic fusion being the chef’s choice of direction. At Restaurant KA13 we have painfully delicate and pretty plates from German chef Felix Gabel, some arranged with tweezer-like precision. The fusion takes in all nations, however, hence we have Faroe Islands salmon with saké raisins and rocket bacon sauce, venison fillet with teriyaki jus, sweet potato, cashew and grilled mango and, for the sweet-toothed, marinated blueberry sorrel sorbet with liquorice chocolate. There’s also a brilliant tasting menu, on which highlights include turbot with pear, foie gras, celery and lime leaf sauce, and pigeon with banana.

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Travel Details

Eat at: Restaurant KA13 for Nordic Fushion.


Argentario Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany and golf are made for each other. The climate, the landscape, the potential for spectacular 19th holes, it’s all here. Argentario Golf Resort brings all of those elements together in the best possible fashion. Based on what was once an island but has now being linked back to the mainland with three causeways, all of the natural attributes you’d hope for from Tuscan golf reside here. What it gives in scenery, however, it takes from your scorecard. The dramatic change in gradient on the fairways, coupled with small and, at times, over-protected greens make it hard for anyone trying to record a good score to do so, but, as is often the case in travellers’ golf, the views make up for it. So, too, does what lies beyond the 18th hole. The resort’s Dama Dama only heads to the best local producers for supplies, often not even needing to go that far as its own fruit and vegetable patch will suffice. If you only had their local extra virgin olive oil and crusty, homemade bread, you’d be happy. But chef Riccardo Cappelli has worked with Michelin- starred chefs throughout his career and knows how to get the best out of the region’s seafood and meat, so you can’t really go wrong with whatever you choose.

3659 Fois Gras Filled Quail Saffron Potato Cream Sweet And Sour Onion Quaglia Ripiena Con Foie Gras Su Crema Di Patate Allo Zafferano E Cipolla Agrodolce

Travel Details

Eat at: Restaurant Dama Dama for classic Mediterranean.


Monte Rei Algarve, Portugal

Monte Rei is consistently ranked the best golf course in Portugal, which is no small feat given the high concentration of quality courses in a comparatively small area. This is the Algarve, but a world away from Albufeira, even though it’s just an hour east, and it’s as secluded and serene as any course you’re likely to play. The Atlantic Ocean laps at the sandy shores nearby, while the Serra do Caldeirão mountains give it a fitting backdrop – not that you need to look beyond the course for beauty. Jack Nicklaus is responsible for this 6,567m, par 72, and he didn’t hold back on the water when he brought his ‘signature’ design to Portugal – it features on 11 of the 18 holes. The par-3 14th makes the most of it, with the lake the only route to take. Similarly, the 18th is fiercely protected: water on two sides, unforgiving rough on another and only a narrow fairway route, and that half-covered with sand. Perhaps fittingly given the amount of time you’ll have spent near water, the restaurant to head to afterwards specialises in seafood. The menu is pretty much a who’s who of ocean dwellers: clams, crabs, cockles, barnacles, crab, hake, mackerel, scallops and John Dory are just some of the crustacea and fish the chef manages to squeeze into his £115 Flora and Fauna tasting menu. Whether indecisive or a work of genius, or both, it’s spectacular eating.

Salada Coderniz

Travel Details

Eat at: Vistas for seafood.


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