What are the best golf courses in continental Europe? The Golf World Top 100 reveals all.
From Ryder Cup courses and European Tour hosts to layouts that many of you may never have heard off, this is the definitive and revered list of the finest golf courses continental Europe has to offer.
You can find out who is on the panel that ranks the courses and the criteria we use to mark them, along with answers to the FAQs we receive around the Golf World Top 100s and the courses that were in the running for the continental Europe list by clicking here.
And before you start planning your tour of the continent to play these amazing golf courses, be sure to check out our guides to Europe’s best new golf courses and the continent’s best golf resorts to ensure your incredible round is followed by an incredible stay.
Of course, if you’re not much of a traveller (and who has been for the last 18 months?!), we’ve also got your covered with rankings of the best courses in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, along with the most fun courses on these shores, the best courses you can play £60 and less and the best golf resorts in Great Britain and Ireland.
But for now, let’s continue our countdown of continental Europe’s best golf courses.
Golf World Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe: 10th-1st
10. Les Bordes (Old)
DOWN THREE PLACES
Design 31 Setting 12 Memorability 13 Playability 5 Consistency 9 Presentation 10 Total 80
Usurped by its baby sister, but for Les Bordes have two courses in the top 10 of the Golf World Top 100 is a remarkable achievement. This Robert von Hagge-Rick Baril creation is one of the most exacting long game examinations in Europe. In immaculate condition and with a feeling of playing somewhere special.
DOWN THREE PLACES
Design 33 Setting 12 Memorability 12 Playability 7 Consistency 8 Presentation 8 Total 80
The work of Harry Colt and Frank Pennink squeezes into our top 10 at a time when it has never been more competitive. Hillier than some classic links – which the panel welcomed – and some woodland framing, so this is a distinctive, traditional seaside course presented as it should be.
8. Les Bordes (New)
Design 33 Setting 12 Memorability 13 Playability 7 Consistency 8 Presentation 8 Total 81
The position of this course has been on our minds for 18 months. We knew it would be finished in time for this ranking and we expected it to be good, but we needed several pairs of eyes to see it in order to rank it. Covid travel restrictions delayed our visits until late in the process, but as you can see from this position, it was well worth the wait.
The New is, as this top 10 slot makes clear, instantly one of the elite courses in continental Europe. This Gil Hanse design is already, in our eyes, superior to its sister course, the Old, which is a former Europe No.1 in this ranking.
It sits at No.8 now, but we firmly expect it to rise not fall in future lists as it settles further into its landscape. It’s already a wonderful playing experience though. There are so many impressive aspects to this new course, and they start with how mature it already looks; it’s weathering so well and has been beautifully blended into the nature of the Sologne Forest.
In common with his work elsewhere, notably in Europe at Castle Stuart, Hanse’s emphasis on angles is a prominent aspect of the New.
The long holes, the par 4s and par 5s, are especially strong and get the New off to a strong start; the approaches to the terrific par-5 2nd and the two-shot 4th, in addition to the thoughtful 5th and funky 6th, give you instant affection for this new course. Hanse spent a lot of months in France to get this right and he has clearly sweated the detail in moments such as the 8th, using the hollow in the fairway so well with the protruding green.
On the back nine, the sporty par-4 15th is likely to be a big hit, although the connoisseur may prefer the simplicity of the following hole. The 12th, with its gorgeous green complex, and 13th are also easy to enjoy, but the nine ends with a hole that’s likely to split opinion, the green siting beyond an irrigation pond.
The greens throughout are a mix of delightful undulating complexes that flow from the fairway and some which are ‘pushed up’ a little more.
The carries – over largely broom rather than heather – look the part but are already intimidating at times and could get penal if broom and tree management is not consciously tended to. Make no mistake though, having been gifted this world-class course by Hanse, we expect Les Bordes to improve as it matures, not falter. Eighth is likely to be just the start for it.
7. Chantilly (Vineuil)
UP 10 PLACES
Design 34 Setting 12 Memorability 12 Playability 7 Consistency 8 Presentation 8 Total 81
Chantilly was the first course Tom Simpson designed outside Britain and he made his mark in predictably elegant fashion in this fêted north Parisian suburb. A real English parkland feel to this course, which was always a favoured Tour stop of players in the know back in the day.
6. Lofoten Links
UP 41 PLACES
Design 30 Setting 15 Memorability 15 Playability 6 Consistency 8 Presentation 7 Total 81
Six years ago, Lofoten wasn’t in Top 100 courses in continental Europe, so this may seem punchy. Some holes are less than classic, but many, many more you will remember for the rest of your life. The setting is the biggest lure – and is peerless – but it is more than that. So many holes carved out in this utopia are world-class.
We have Lofoten 12th in our ranking of the best new courses in Europe. Accomodation is limited and amenities relatively restricted, but the fact it’s just a few places outside the upper half of our Golf World Top 100 Golf Resorts in continental Europe just reiterates how sensational the golf is.
DOWN TWO PLACES
Design 30 Setting 12 Memorability 15 Playability 6 Consistency 8 Presentation 10 Total 81
A former No.1 in this ranking and some would have it back there. There is no doubt Valderrama is a special day out and while it may have its critics, sometimes with good reason, a game here is one to anticipate with relish and savour forever.
Nowhere is manicured more flawlessly on the continent and there is huge X Factor because of the Ryder Cup, Tour events and colourful former owner Jaime Ortiz-Patino. So tight among the cork oaks and there is an unfair/frustrating element – but embrace the challenge and you will adore it, just as Matt Fitzpatrick proved at the Andalucia Masters.
4. Royal Hague
The Hague, Netherlands
UP NINE PLACES
Design 33 Setting 12 Memorability 12 Playability 7 Consistency 9 Presentation 9 Total 82
A course that bears the Dutch master Harry Colt’s name but where his associate Charles Alison did much of the work – and which has now been restored by Frank Pont. So what can you expect?
A seaside course that is demanding to all who tackle her, whether that be long game or short game. Beautifully presented with panoramic views from fairways that rise and fall to a surprising extent – this is the supposedly flat Netherlands, after all.
UP TWO PLACES
Design 33 Setting 12 Memorability 13 Playability 7 Consistency 9 Presentation 8 Total 82
The highest position this characterful heathland south of Paris has reached in our ranking of the best courses in continental Europe, recognition of the woodland management the club has undertaken to preserve its living, breathing showcase of Tom Simpson genius. Here, the Englishman crafted a work of art on to a natural landscape that was perfect for engaging golf.
The exciting thing is, Fontainebleau could keep getting better, with ongoing restoration. It is, however, already an enchanting, spellbinding course draped over undulating land lined by pine, birch, beech and oak and decorated by rocks, bracken and heather.
The moment you step on to the 1st tee, in the shadow of the old-world, Norman-style clubhouse, you’re taken in by Fontainebleau, a boulder-studded hill towering over the green in the distance.
It’s a thrilling start and the pace is maintained at the long 3rd, whose panoramic view of the royal forest – where King Francis I used to hunt – from an elevated tee is even more breathtaking.
Hardly any hole resembles another, and many force you to make tough tactical choices. Should you lay up with your second at the short par-5 12th – or attack the green and risk your shot rebounding into the trees off the intimidating rocks occupying its approaches?
Late in the round comes the outstanding 16th, which European Tour winner Gregory Havret says is the best par 4 in France.
It’s short by today’s standards, but is exacting because of the trees, 100+ bunkers and greens with plenty of movement in them – they were, after all, designed by the eccentric Simpson. This beauty is not easily seduced and is bettered by only two on the continent.
2. Utrecht De Pan
Design 35 Setting 12 Memorability 14 Playability 8 Consistency 10 Presentation 8 Total 87
No.2 again for ‘De Pan’, but what a runner-up it is. It’s superior to courses that have held the honour of being our No.1 – all of whom are now behind it in our list – but has the mighty Morfontaine ahead of it, and that’s a significant hurdle to overcome. As the marks confirm, this Harry Colt heathland is by clear distance the No.2 and closer to the top spot than third.
Heather, pines, gorgeous turf that is sandy and firm… De Pan has a tangible ‘glad to be alive’ feeling. The routing and individual holes are Colt at his best. De Pan is a traditional club but is a welcoming one, and that means with a bit of advanced planning you can enjoy this masterful heathland for yourself.
1. Morfontaine (Grand Parcours)
Design 37 Setting 12 Memorability 14 Playability 8 Consistency 10 Presentation 8 Total 89
New ranking, same No.1. It might feel unimaginative and predictable, but we aren’t here to make startling changes for the sake of it; we’re here to identify the best golf courses in continental Europe, and Morfontaine’s ‘Big Course’ is the very finest.
There’s a wonderful course at No.2, an exquisite one at No.3 which with continuing restoration could be a threat, and a new course at No.8 that we feel will garner increasing appeal, but it feels as if this Parisian masterpiece will be very difficult to shift.
The work of eccentric Englishman Tom Simpson, with some sympathetic input this millennium by Kyle Phillips, has created a beguiling heathland that oozes strategy and a peerless ambiance. Vintage Simpson green complexes and holes of infinite variety characterise a wonderful all-round course at a private club of inimitable character.