Why Choose Your Next Golfing Holiday With Chaka Travel?

If you’re thinking about booking your next golfing holiday, we think you’d be foolish not to book it with us. We’ll take care of your every need from the moment you talk to us to the moment you return (when of course you’ll immediately want to start planning your next trip!) Here are the top reasons why you should choose your next golfing holiday with Chaka Travel for the trip of a lifetime.

  1. First-hand knowledge and experience

The reason we can advise you with confidence about our holiday destinations and resorts is that our staff have travelled to and spent time at many of them. We’ll advise you in everything from local customs to what the golf club expects you to wear when playing, so rest assured we can answer any question you might have before you book. We also love what we do, and our enthusiasm shows in everything, from hand-picking new hotels to playing golf ourselves on many of the famous courses at our resorts.

  1. Protection & peace of mind

We know you want to book your holiday with total peace of mind, which is why our booking process aims to take as much risk out of the process as possible. We’ll never ask you to pay for your holiday online, instead we’ll send you an invoice which you can pay by cheque, bank draft or credit card over the phone. Many of our holiday and travel services are financially protected by the ATOL scheme – ask us if you have questions relating to this about specific elements of your holiday.

  1. Completely tailored holidays

If you’re planning a special birthday or anniversary trip, perhaps a honeymoon or even your wedding we can help tailor the perfect holiday for you from start to finish. We’ll take care of everything, from your itinerary to your flights. Find out more about our tailor made holidays on our website.

  1. Trusted by clients for years

A lot of our business comes from referrals from happy customers who have recommended us to friends and family, and we’re also delighted to have so many of them leave us positive reviews about their experiences with us. You can read our happy customer reviews collected by third party review site here to get a feel for who we are and how we like to treat our customers.

  1. Over 30 destinations

We offer holidays to over 30 destinations, from the exotic and far flung destinations, to spots closer to home if long haul travel isn’t your thing. This allows you the widest choice possible and we’ll happily recommend resorts and activities for each location. Take a look at our extensive destinations list to start getting inspired for your next trip.

  1. Fantastic special offers

Here’s another great reason why you should choose your next golfing holiday with Chaka Travel – our incredible deals and offers. We’re always updating our deals with great new resorts, so make sure to check it out our special offers regularly for the best price to your favourite locations.

Mauritius Revisited: Mark & Marcella Return to Paradise

It had been 3 three years since my last visit to Mauritius and with all the changes on the island, I felt a trip was very much needed to get up to speed with things. Stuart and Jean from the office had both been over recently to see a lot of the changes which had whetted my appetite. With Marcella and I now being empty nesters it was great to be able to go away on a ‘work trip’ together and this was her first time back in 10 years. We flew out of Dublin via Dubai and couldn’t find fault with Emirates who consistently rank as one of the world’s leading airlines.

Day 1 – Arriving to a Sunny Festive Mauritius and straight onto the Heritage golf course

After a comfortable and stress-free journey from Dublin via Dubai with Emirates we arrived and were quickly out of the bright and modern airport and into a sunny, warm Mauritius morning. We were driven along the south coast by our charming concierge Clifford from Emotions who look after all of our clients’ transfers and local tours requirements as well as giving us a 365 day /24hr presence on the island. We passed an amazing Tamil religious festival en route to the hotel, the bright bold colours of the silks and exotic flowers immediately stirred the senses, making us suddenly feel like we were a long way from the hustle, bustle and any stress left at home.

Straight on to the Heritage Golf Course


Of course within an hour of arrival at the African themed Heritage Awali Golf and Spa Resort I was out on the Heritage golf course. It was great to be back out on one of my favourite courses, I remember seeing the course when under construction and had the pleasure of watching it blossom into maturity when attending its official opening, over the years it’s just got better and better. I enjoyed playing with the South African golf director Jonathan Menteath and his friend Nico who was over visiting from Legends Golf and Safari resort in SA. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Legends 3 times and even taken on the ultimate golf experience with a helicopter up to the Extreme 19th! As such there were 3 of us Southern Africans playing together but unfortunately only two good golfers! I used every excuse in the book about our 8 month winter in Europe to try and justify my wayward golf, I must thank them for their patience. The weather was absolutely perfect, 28c with a lovely soft breeze and clear blue skies, we played in these absolutely ideal conditions until the sun set. I was pleased to hear from Jonathan that they are soon starting the 2nd course and I look forward to playing it in the future!

After the obligatory post game Phoenix beer sundowners I met up with Marcella and we enjoyed an early dinner at Infinity Blue restaurant down alongside the beach. Sitting outside with your feet in the sand at this relaxed restaurant was a perfect end to our first day back in Mauritius!

Day 2 – Catching up with Golf Developments in Mauritius

Another day in paradise for Marcella and I: beach, massage, food, beer and a tough lunchtime meeting with my old friend Michael Geerdharry at the stunning Heritage Le Telfair Resort. Michael has been involved in golf on the island since day 1 and I’ve known him for over 20 years! It was great chatting about how golf has developed on the island and I’m pleased to say more courses are in the pipeline including the second Heritage golf course! I love the local food in Mauritius and we had a delicious meal in the Mauritian-Asian style Zafarani restaurant at the Heritage Awali.

Marcella and Michael Geerdharry Le Telfair Golf Resort Mauritius
Marcella with Michael Geerdharry at Heritage Le Telfair

Day 3 – Meeting an old friend at the new Avalon Golf Club

After breakfast we headed up the from the south coast to Avalon Golf Club where we were met by the Estate Manager Ryan Dodds. Whilst it was my first round at Avalon it wasn’t my first time meeting Ryan who I’m sure many will remember at Heritage GC just down the hill! Marcella and I really enjoyed this superb Peter Matkovitch course, he’s a great designer and I’m pleased to say a fellow Zimbabwean. The course has spectacular views of the ocean from virtually every hole, surrounding tea plantations and nearby mountains. The course has wide forgiving fairways as it winds through rivers, ravines and indigenous forests, we thoroughly enjoyed our round yet again played in perfect conditions. During the round we bumped into Jean Patrick who I had met many times over the years at Heritage Golf Club – it was really pleasing to see that a local Mauritian who had started working at the range has progressed to being Avalon’s PGA pro, a true sign that Mauritius has matured as a golf destination. After golf we set off across the Island with our ‘concierge supreme’ Clifford who stopped at the very impressive recently constructed statue of Parvati the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion – what an island, even after 23 years of coming here and still so much to see…… We went on to Anahita Golf and Spa Resort on the east coast of the island ending the day with a wonderful dinner on the veranda.

Avalon Golf Course Mauritius Mark & Ryan Dodds
Mark & Ryan Dodds on the Avalon Golf Course

Day 4 – Some welcome down time at Anahita Golf and Spa Resort

After a fairly busy start to our trip we treated ourselves to a really relaxing day around the pool at Anahita Golf and Spa Resort. The resort is truly top class and offers a wide range of accommodation all set in beautiful gardens as well as having a superb golf course which I was looking forward to playing the following morning. In the evening we headed up the coast to the recently completely renovated One&Only Le Saint Geran resort for dinner with Rheena, the charming manager of Emotions and her equally charming husband Martin. We had a tour of the resort before enjoying a memorable meal in excellent company. On&Only LeSaint Geran for many years set the standard on the island and whilst we only enjoyed a short visit I believe it will have all of the other leading hotels knowing they will have to up their game as the bar has been raised.

Anahita Resort Mauritius Beach
Some relaxation on the beach at Anahita

Day 5 – An early golf game at Anahita then onto Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok

With another sunny morning I was up early and the first out on the Anahita Golf Course, as always the course was in fantastic condition. With the construction of a number of new villas alongside the course, there was some background noise and the normally picturesque 4th hole had fencing most of the way down the fairway. Fortunately, the stunningly located green with wonderful views of the turquoise ocean was unaffected. The course is very forgiving off the tee box which suits me, to score well you need a good short game as designer Ernie Els made sure scoring wasn’t easy with well protected, tricky greens.

After lunch we moved around the bay to Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok, Mauritius where we would be spending a couple of days. Having been taken over by Shangri La since my last golf break in Mauritius I was interested to seeing any changes. Having been to a number of Shangri La’s resorts including the Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Golf Resort in Malaysian Borneo and the Shard in London I knew the standard would be high. Overall the biggest difference we found was that the resort had a more relaxed and informal feel having previously been very elegant and chic. I particularly enjoyed the late afternoon sundowner session they now have every afternoon on the beach which brought people together with music in the background creating a lively and fun atmosphere. Throughout our stay we were looked after like royalty by the affable marketing director Peter Donlevy, we joined him for dinner in the Japanese restaurant and the company and the food were of the highest order!

Anahita Resort Mauritius Plunge Pool Overlooking Golf Course
Plunge Pool overlooking the Golf Course at Anahita

Day 6 – A golf transfer with a difference – off to Ile Aux Cerfs course by boat!

Marcella and I spent a magical day playing on the iconic Ile Aux Cerfs course. This was her first time there and I really enjoyed sharing the experience with her. Everything was perfect, from the boat ride out to the island, to playing the immaculately maintained course and enjoying post match drinks and lunch in the lovely clubhouse, it is truly an experience that will live long in the memory of anyone lucky enough to grace Ile Aux Cerfs fairways. The course was in tip top condition and with just a gentle cooling breeze conditions were once again ideal. I have played it many times and enjoy it a lot more now since they have made it easier to play – when it was first opened it was ridiculously tough! Hats off to the Director of Golf Marc Amelot and his team who do an amazing job in keeping the course at a consistently high standard!

Mark on the Ile Aux Cerf Golf Course Mauritius
Mark on the Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Course

Day 7 – The ultimate in laid-back luxury – a relaxing day on a private island!

We spent most of the day at Shangri La’s Le Touessrok’s private island Ilot Mangenie – truly paradise!!! Just a short boat ride from the resort and you find yourself in heaven, nothing more than a few sun loungers dotted along the stunning beaches plus an excellent beach restaurant providing world class food – how do the Mauritians do it! Our overall impression was that the Shangri-Las Le Touessrok has notably changed and is now less formal but equally as impressive! After lunch we moved back around the bay to the Four Seasons Mauritius. We were lucky enough to be given a beachfront villa with a private pool. These outstanding villas are the absolute epitome of luxury as one would expect from Four Seasons. The resort has a number of excellent restaurants and dinner was enjoyed under the stars with a gentle breeze keeping things really comfortable.

Ilot Margenie Private Island Mauritius Boat Trip
Boat trip to the private island of Ilot Margenie

Day 8 – On your bike!

Marcella and I decided we needed to work off some of the amazing food (and in my case numerous cold Phoenix) so we hired some bikes and went off for a fun ride through the cane fields and down the east coast. Whilst the weather was cloudy and breezy it was great to get out of the resorts and enjoy the island. Later in the day we moved to the superb Constance Prince Maurice Resort, in my opinion the finest resort on an island famous for its world class hotels! Le Prince Maurice shares two superb golf courses, the Legend and the Links, with its sister hotel the Constance Belle Mare Plage. Le Prince Maurice is an extremely elegant resort, renowned for its exceptional service, luxurious décor, amazing cuisine and a wonderfully extensive wine list. After a cocktail at the floating bar we had an excellent meal at the Asian Restaurant, where the superb food is prepared by the chefs in full view of the diners.

Day 9 – Epicureans & wine lovers, be ready!

Another day, another great golf course! This time Marcella and I played the Links course. Opened in 2002, The Links is Constance Hotels second championship golf course, it’s a fair course that rewards good play but can be equally tricky, particularly on the back nine. There are reasonably generous fairways leading to tricky greens which puts an emphasis on solid iron play as well as making really think about your choice of approach shot. There’s considerably less water than on the Legend course but there are still 6 water hazards as well as volcanic rock features that must be avoided. Following the golf we relaxed on the beach at the resort before winding down even further with a relaxing massage at the superb spa. We had a wonderful evening with pre-dinner drinks at the floating bar before the ‘La Paulée’ dinner dedicated to sumptuous wine and food pairings!

Mark Links Golf Course Constance Belle Mare Plage Golf Resort Mauritius
Mark on The Links at Constance Belle Mare Page

Day 10 – A warm welcome at the new C Palmar Resort

After this we moved to the new C Palmar Resort, I was really looking forward to seeing our great friends from Constance Resorts latest offering. This is a smaller boutique style resort and on arrival we were given a typically warm Mauritian greeting. As we walked through the hotel we took in the stunning view of the beach and sea which dipped beyond the horizon. The bright natural light as well as the airy feel to the resort really complimented the colourful setting. We were fortunate to have a room that shared this wonderful vista and spent the afternoon enjoying the crystal clear sea and sparkling white sandy beach! After the obligatory pre-dinner cocktail we had dinner in the main restaurant. Whilst the buffet didn’t have an overwhelming selection there was plenty to keep us happy and we were well looked after by the attentive and friendly staff.

View of the Beach at C Palmar from the Deck
View of the Beach from the deck at C Palmar

Day 11 – A testing round at the new Mont Choisy golf course

We woke to strong winds and a cloudy sky so made sure we had waterproofs packed before heading to the north of the island to try out the new Mont Choisy golf course. We played with our old friends Jo and Rory Kirk who originated from South Africa but have been in Mauritius for many years. Jo did a wonderful job looking after our Mauritius Mixed Pairs tournament for many years and was as enthusiastic as ever to get out and show off their new golf club regardless of the weather.

Fortunately the rain stayed away apart from one large shower and I really enjoyed playing a truly testing round in high winds, living in Ireland has made me accept it as part of the challenge! The course is another excellent Peter Matkovitch design, it’s built on a former sugar plantation with few mature trees and offers wonderful views of the mountains. The 15th hole is an absolute gem, it’s a short par-3 across a wetland to an island green, it’s located near an old chimney, a landmark that harks back to the past. We had the pleasure of lunch and a few drinks in the stylish modern clubhouse with the Kirks. As Rory had to fly off to South Africa that afternoon Jo joined us for dinner in the C Asian restaurant back at the resort, we had a superb meal reminiscing about the island and all of the changes it has undergone over the last 20 years – fortunately the majority of these are very positive both for tourism as well as the locals.

Mont Choisy Golf Club Mauritius Mark & Jo Kirk
Mark taking on the challenge of Mont Choisy

Day 12 – Home from home at the Belle Mare Plage

We thoroughly enjoyed the C Palmar and would have happily stayed on for another week but it was time to move on again! Luckily the trip wasn’t too arduous as it was just a few minutes up the road to what is generally rated the best golf resort on the island – Constance Belle Mare Plage. Having first visited the resort in 1995 I have really enjoyed seeing the resort develop from a ‘charming’ old beach resort with one golf course to the wonderful stylish current version with two excellent courses and a third in the pipeline! Belle Mare Plage, like the island itself, really feels like a second home to me, we have had thousands of happy clients enjoy the resort and many of these return year after year and like me feel totally at home.

Villa Gazebo at Constance Belle Mare Plage Mauritius
Villa Gazebo at Belle Mare Plage

Day 13 – Golf with old friends at the Links course

In the afternoon I caught up with my old friends Sarran and Dinesh who have been looking after the golfers at the Belle Mare Plages two courses for many years. It is always a highlight of my visits to Mauritius playing golf with these fun-loving, charming guys and it was a real pleasure playing the Links course with them. Golf with these laid-back guys whilst enjoying a couple of beers on the way round is my type of golf, lots of laughs and whilst competitive it’s always played within the right spirit. Many of our returning clients would know Sarran and Dinesh and I’m sure they would agree with me that the two of them, as well as the rest of the staff, really enhance the golfing experience with their charm and professionalism. It was a shame that Sebastian the director of golf was unable to join us due to a bad back but I’ll be sure to get out with him on my next visit. Our delightful dinner in the Blue Penny restaurant at Belle Mare Plage was preceded by a tour of the very impressive wine cellar and a sumptuous wine tasting experience.

Day 14 – On your bike again!

To combat all the wonderful food and drink on this trip we took on another bike ride, this time along the beautiful east coast of the island, the stretch along the Belle Mare public beach with the spectacular colours of the sea right next to us was truly memorable! A well-deserved swim and lunch were followed by a lazy afternoon enjoying the resort. We ended the day at La Spiaggia, one of my favourite restaurants, where the superb food was up to its usual high standards, before heading to the main bar to listen to some music and enjoy a nightcap (or two).

Day 15 – A quick 9 holes at the Legend Course and travelling like a star!!

Our final day had unfortunately arrived However, we were departing on an evening flight so still had the whole day to savour. We spent the morning relaxing on the beach and after lunch, we went out for a final 9-holes on the Legend Course. The changes made to the course over the last two decades have been considerable, it now plays a little easier due to wider landing areas but the abundance of water, as well as dense forest and volcanic rock, means you can expect to lose a ball or two. Overall the course was in excellent condition with well-maintained tee boxes, bunkers and pure well-paced greens. In the evening we tried out the Yu Lounge at the airport. This is in a separate building to the main terminal and is ideal for stress-free travel. On arrival at the lounge your luggage disappears, and whilst you enjoy bubbly and excellent food your passports are taken away and returned with your boarding passes. When it’s time to fly out you are taken to the main terminal in a Porsche Cayenne! At the terminal, you are whisked through a private security route and onto the departure gate. This is one indulgence I recommend particularly for those who like to be pampered!

Warm welcomes, superb golf and idyllic weather – what more could you want!

May is the perfect time of year out here with great hotel rates and idyllic golf and beach weather! The courses were all in fantastic condition particularly considering winter officially started when we were out there. The Emirates flights were all on time throughout our journey and all of our luggage appeared at the right times and places so we are grateful to them for their usual high-quality service!

I am so fortunate to have been to Mauritius many, many times and the island itself really feels like a second home to me. It was a real privilege and pleasure to spent two weeks with Marcella enjoying the best that the island has to offer. We could not have been looked after better and are very thankful for the kindness and hospitality we enjoyed throughout or visit. We have had thousands of happy clients enjoy the superb golf courses, idyllic weather and world-class resorts that Mauritius has to offer, many of these return year after year and like me I’m sure they are always planning the next return to paradise!

Chaka Travel sponsor Matt Mumford at Aldwickbury Golf Club | Jamega Tour

Chaka Travel sponsor Matt Mumford at Aldwickbury Golf Club on the Jamega Tour check out his report from the day

This week I set off to Hertfordshire to play Aldwickbury Golf Club on the Jamega Tour.

What a fantastic course and a pleasure to play.  The green-keepers had the course in top shape and the greens were some of the best we have played on all year.

Day 1 at Aldwickbury Golf Club

A late tee time for me, off around midday, and I didn’t get off to the best of starts as I made bogey on both of my two opening holes.

Better was to follow though, as I sent my iron into a couple of feet on the par 3 3rd for a birdie 2,

which was quickly followed by another 2 on the 7th and when I made another on the 8th for back to back birdies I had brought the round back and was out in -1 under par 35.

Back nine was very steady golf of one bogey and one birdie to end the day still on -1 under par 70.

Day 2 at Aldwickbury Golf Club

After missing out on pay cheques in the previous weeks, I was considering whether I should try to hang on to my -1 score,  or do I push on and try and move up the leaderboard.

Of course, only one thing to do, try and make a push up the leaderboard.

What came next even had me shaking my head in amazement.

I started with a steady par 4 on the first, onto the second and great approach shot next to the pin and a tap-in birdie 3 was mine.

Another par 3 followed before my next birdie on the 4th.

now -2 for my round and in great shape, on the par 5 5th I hit the green in two which left me two easy putts for another birdie!

And when I made another birdie 3 on the 6th I was now -4 for the day and -5 for the tournament.

Coming up the 9th I just needed a steady hole to see out the front 9 but when I sent in another shot to the pin I tapped in for another birdie 3.

Now just to recap on my front 9 holes I had made 6 3’s , I was round in -5 under par 31,  just on my front nine alone, my lowest 9 holes as a pro.

Onto the back nine I did feel a little bit nervous as I learnt I was now only 1 shot off the lead.

The back nine was not as lightning as the front and was made up of 3 bogeys and 1 birdie to finish the round on -3 under par 68 to go with the score the day before and I had finished the tournament on -4 under par and a tie for 7th place.

Great feeling to be back in the buzz at the top end of the tournament and another top ten finish for the year, plus nine holes I will never forget, but soon hope to repeat again.

As always, thanks for the support and good luck with your own games

Matt

Here’s my scorecard for the two rounds

Golf Holidays in the Caribbean

Golf Holidays in the Caribbean – the latest addition to our golf holiday portfolio

We all dream of holidays in the Caribbean; for the weather, beaches and the laid-back vibe. But the Caribbean is a golfer’s paradise with amazing golf courses, designed by some of the world’s most renowned golf architects. Quality golf courses range from coastal courses to inland courses set amid tropical flora. Many are beside or within the resort grounds and whether you are a low handicap golfer or holiday golfer, there are golf courses to suit all holiday golfers across the Caribbean islands.  We recommended the following Caribbean resorts and golf courses:

Golf Holidays in the Dominican Republic

For serious golfers, we suggest the Dominican Republic which in terms of both quality and quantity is the undisputed golfing capital of the Caribbean. Home to some 28 golf courses created by a host of leading designers including Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Senior, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman.

For a wonderful golf resort experience, we recommend the Casa de Campo in the southeast of the country. This plush gated villa community occupies an amazing 7,000-acre site where Pete Dye had created three distinct courses: the oceanside Links; Dye Fore and the must-play Teeth of the Dog course which is ranked number 1 in the Caribbean. Non-golfers are equally well catered for at Casa de Campo, with boutique shopping, beaches and cafes by the marina, plus boat trips departing from Casa De Campo to Robinson Crusoe-style islands.

Teeth of the Dog Caribbean Golf Holiday Dominican Republic
Teeth of the Dog Golf Course

And if three onsite courses are not enough for you, there are two further golf courses nearby. Puerto Plata has Playa Grande at the Amanera. Recently enhanced by Rees Jones, 10 of the holes stretch along the clifftop above the Atlantic Ocean. Around the coast in Punta Cana are the equally dramatic oceanside holes of Punta Espada at Cap Cana, close to Eden Roc.

A great option in Dominican Republic for golfers seeking an all Inclusive adults-only resort is the Sanctuary Cap Cana with access to four golf courses; La Cana, Corales, Punta Espada and Teeth of the Dog.

La Cana Caribbean Dominican Republic Golf Holiday
La Cana Golf Course

Stay and Play Golf in Jamaica

For stay and play holiday golfers we would recommend you base yourself in the Montego Bay area, staying at the Half Moon Resort. Half Moon Jamaica is a golf resort elegantly set amidst 400 tropical acres in magical Montego Bay and just 10 minutes from the airport.  Half Moon Golf Club provides a relaxing holiday game off the forward markers or a serious golfing challenge from the back pegs. Just four minutes away from Half Moon are the White Witch and Cinnamon Hill golf courses. We can also arrange for golf in the north of the island at two great courses; Negril Hills and Jamaica Golf and Country Club.

Exclusive Golf Breaks at the Green Monkey at Sandy Lane Barbados

Sandy Lane in Barbados is renowned as the ultimate luxury golf resort and offers some of the best golf in the world. This prestigious resort has three golf courses: the Old Nine, the Country Club and the world-renowned Green Monkey.  For exclusivity, tranquillity and elegance the Green Monkey at Sandy Lane is one for the bucket list as only those staying at this iconic resort get to play the course. The other two of Sandy Lanes courses, the Old Nine and the Country Club, are open to non-guests.

Green Monkey Golf Course Sandy Lane Barbados Golf Holiday
Green Monkey Golf Course

To start planning your Caribbean golfing getaway speak to the golf experts at Chaka Travel

A Review of Golf in Sicily by Mark McGowan of IrishGolfer.ie

Review of Golf in Sicily by Mark McGowan of IrishGolfer.ie

If you haven’t considered golf in the Mediterranean then it’s time to…

You may not have considered Sicily as a destination for your golf trip but on a recent trip to the island Mark McGowan from Irish Golfer Magazine discovered some fabulous golf courses, wonderful resorts and outstanding cuisine.

Why golf in Sicily?

When it comes to Mediterranean golfing destinations, Sicily may not be the first to spring to mind, but basking year-round in the sun, the island is an ideal destination as the nights get longer and the temperature drops on domestic shores.

A long history of invasion and conquest, beginning with the Phoenicians in the first millennia B.C., through the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Vandals, the Goths, the Moors, the Normans, the French, the Germans, the Spanish, and even the British, make modern Sicily a cultural cocktail.  Italian is the official language, of course, but Sicilians regularly switch to a local dialect barely recognisable to that of the mainland.

Geographically, Sicily’s most southern point is more equatorial than most of the North African coast, virtually guaranteeing sunshine all year long, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months. Sandy beaches can be found around the entire island, and the warm Mediterranean Sea makes for ideal bathing.

Sicilian golf consists of five resorts, which boast seven courses between them. Golf is a relatively new activity on the island, with the oldest course, Il Picciolo), not even 30 years in existence. The newest resort, Verdura, has two courses and is situated on the South-West side of the Island. Donnafugata, on the South-East coast also has two courses, while Monasteri, Le Saie and Il Picciolo each have one course and are all situated on the East coast.

Golf in Sicily at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort

Verdura Golf and Spa Resort is the undoubted jewel in the crown. Most easily accessed from Palermo airport, a short detour which might be of interest to fans of Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola is the village of Corleone, whose name was adopted by the legendary (if fictional) mob boss in the Mafioso classics. Although affiliated by name only, in a rare example of life imitating art, in the 1980s and 1990s, the Corleonesi became the most powerful sector of the Sicilian mafia in spite of relatively modest resources.

Set on an expanse of coastal land, the Verdura luxury resort is modernist to the core, and boasts one of the Italy’s leading spas. Two courses, the East and the West, offer a demanding challenge of championship proportions along the picturesque coastline. Host of the Sicilian Open in 2012 and 2017 (the event wasn’t held in the four intervening years) on the European Tour, Álvaro Quirós and Thorbjørn Olesen will both have very fond memories of their visit to Verdura.

Beautifully manicured and conditioned, both courses are playable by golfers of all standards with a variety of long and challenging holes to suit the longer hitters, and short holes where accuracy rather than power, is key. The short par-3 6th and the par-4 18th on the East course are the signature holes, with the latter requiring a nerve racking drive along rugged cliffs with a watery grave below for errant shots.

In terms of cuisine, the resort offers a variety of options and locations to ensure guests are never bored at meal times. The main hotel restaurant is formal, and rather upscale, but this is offset by a traditional Sicilian Trattoria close by, and an Italian Pizzeria by the golf club. Additionally, there is a seafood restaurant by the shore behind the sixth green which is open April to October.

Golf in Sicily at Donnafaguta Golf & Spa Resort

Located close to Verdura is the historic city of Agrigento. Founded by the Greeks in the sixth century, B.C., Agrigento is home to the Valley of the Temples. A ridge, rather than an actual valley, upon which stand the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Concordia and an hour’s drive East of Agrigento lies Donnafugata Golf and Spa Resort. In the shadow of the historic castle of the same name, Donnafugata offers two different challenges in its Links and Parkland courses. The Links Course – although not a typical links by Irish standards – is an undulating journey through an inlet valley just off the Mediterranean Sea. Largely devoid of trees, the Links Course offers breath-taking panoramic sea views and a challenge to suit golfers of all levels. The Parkland Course is designed by Gary Player, and hosted the Sicilian Open in 2011 when won by Raphaël Jacquelin.

The Parkland course is vastly different from the Links course, as you may expect, and occupies the opposite end of the resort where the fertile soils surrounding several of the resort’s springs facilitates the growth of carob and olive trees, and many holes feature traditional stone walls – a surviving token from the estate’s agricultural past. Dense scrub punishes errant drives on most holes, and water comes into play on five of the eighteen.

A hot and exceptionally dry summer – most of the island hasn’t seen rain in six months – has left the course in need of a drop of rain, however, being overly critical would be unfair, and the resort itself is incredibly impressive, and affords a certain sense of intimacy in spite of its expansive layout. Three restaurants – the highlight of which is the open-air bar and grill area – serve up a host of Sicilian specialities, composed entirely of locally sourced ingredients, and cooked to perfection.

The city of Ragusa in Sicily

Not far from Donnafugata, and a little further inland, is the hillside city of Ragusa. A city of two halves, Ragusa’s lower half – Ragusa Ibla – was destroyed by the large earthquake of 1693. Subsequently, Ragusa Upper was constructed on the other side of a canyon and the two sides were only connected in 1926. Ragusa Ibla is home to a number of Baroque-style cathedrals, reconstructed after the earthquake, showcasing the grandeur of the Catholic Church in all its splendour.

Allegroitalia Siracusa Golf Monasteri

A 90-minute drive east of Ragusa is Allegroitalia Siracusa Golf Monasteri, on the outskirts of Siracusa, one of the oldest Greek settlements on the island. Monasteri is, as the name suggests, a former Benedictine Monastery that has been converted into a Golf and Spa Resort. Combining the modern elegance of a spa resort with the rustic charm of a traditional Roman farm, Monasteri is set within an 86-acre orange, lemon and prickly pear plantation, all of which are features of the 18-hole golf course on site.

A 6,520 metre, par-71, Monasteri golf course is a fascinating blend of expansive, wide-open holes and devilishly narrow driving channels. Suffering a similar plight to Donnafugata in terms of an extended arid spell, Monasteri was a little under the weather when I visited. Most unusual was the wealth of prickly pear cactus trees – a most unusual sight – that lined the fairways on several holes, most notably the low indexed, par-4 sixth, where the cacti stand like sentries on both sides of the fairway, making an errant drive both a fearsome and painful thought.

The course itself features a number of very good holes, and is set to undergo some small renovations. The restaurant is spacious, with a large outdoor fireplace ideal for late night gathering in late autumn and early spring. The rooms are contemporary, and very impressive, and the spa, whilst considerably smaller than the two previous resorts, is ideal for relaxation and tranquillity.

Forty minutes north of Siracusa is Le Saie Golf Club. Opened in 2014, Le Saie is Sicily’s youngest golf course. Featuring water hazards throughout, and beautifully kept fairways and greens, Le Saie also boasts a three-tier driving range. Annexed to the course is the Le Saie resort, which is still under construction. Due for completion in mid-2018, the resort is enormous – capable of accommodating 1000 guests.

Argentario Sicily Italy

Il Picciolo – Golf at Sicily’s oldest golf course

Last, but by no means least, is Il Picciolo – Sicily’s oldest golf course – part of the Etna Golf and Spa Resort. The name is of course derived from the active volcano – Europe’s highest – in whose shadow the course lies, and whose rich, fertile volcanic plains make Il Picciolo an entirely different golfing experience from the island’s six other courses. Tree lined, and beautifully manicured, it is most definitely a course you must think your way around. Spectacular views of a smouldering Mount Etna, along with visible lava stone on the 16th and 17th holes make for a unique acquaintance.

Interestingly, the local town, Castiglione di Sicilia, is twinned with Killarney and Il Picciolo twinned with the incredibly picturesque Dooks golf club in Glenbeigh.

Unlike Dooks, however, the park surrounding Il Picciolo is a haven of lush Mediterranean vegetation, including vineyards, orchards and, of course, the olive trees that are synonymous with the entire island. The four-star hotel is elegant and benefits from cooler temperatures mid-summer due to it being almost 500 metres above sea-level.

Apart from Etna itself, which is of course a major attraction, the nearby coastal towns of Taormina and Giardini Nexus are major tourist attractions due to their ancient Greek heritage and some of the artefacts and archaeological findings that have been uncovered. Perhaps most interesting is the Ancient Greek Theatre in Taormina, built in the third century B.C., and is still used for concerts and operas to this day.

Although it may fall short of the sheer quantity of golf courses of the Algarve or the Costa del Sol, and the sheer quality of golf courses of the British Isles and Ireland, Sicily provides something entirely different. A relaxing family getaway, or a romantic excursion with some golf to tip the scales. Soak up the sun, immerse yourself in the culture, the conviviality and the cuisine. Enjoy the wine, and a little pampering. And above all else, don’t call them Italian…

If you wish to discover Sicily’s fabulous golf courses, wonderful resorts and outstanding cuisine for yourself, Chaka Travel can tailor-make your golfing trip to Sicily. See our suggested Sicilian golf holidays here.

Matt Mumford at the end of Winter season Tour Championships 2018

Chaka Travel Sponsor Matt Mumford at the end of Winter season Tour Championships. Check out his report from the event.

Make it a double!!

So after my runner-up spot at Crews Hill on The Thomson Tour, I was invited to take part at the end of Winter season Tour Championships

This was to be a 36 hole one day shootout held at the Bedford Golf Club on the 24th April

Round 1 of the Tours Championship 2018

A nice early tee off of 7:40 am and I was underway

I could not have go off to a better start when I made a birdie on first two holes and quickly moved to -2 under par for the day

A string of pars, followed by one bogey and another birdie and I was through the front nine still -2

Back nine was made up of 8 pars and just the one birdie and round one was complete in -3 under par and I signed for 68

In for lunch to get ready for the PM round and I learned I was lying in spot just two shots behind former European Tour player Simon Lilly

Round 2 of the Tours Championship 2018

Off like a rocket again with birdies on the first two holes, I continued in great form to go on and birdie the 6th, 8th and the 10th hole to move to -5 for my round and -8 for the tournament

In my head I thought I have to be leading at -8 just keep it steady and see what happens could this be my first victory!!

The predicted wind and rain arrived with just 5 holes left to play and made the finishing holes play so much longer and harder.

I kept it together the best I could but unfortunately I dropped three shots coming in to finish the round with a -2 under par 69

Great back to back rounds under par of 68 + 69 and my total was -5 for Tour Championships tournament

Now in the clubhouse and fingers crossed to see how Simon finished

Well all I can say is wow!

When I heard the news that Simon had gone out in the afternoon and shot a new course record of 64!!

His total for the day was -11 under par and that just showed his European Tour pedigree, which is where I hope to be one day

So for the second in two weeks I had finished runner up.

I now move on to the main season and await for the start of The EuroPro and Jamega Tours to begin

As always, I hope you enjoy your golf and thank you for your support

Matt