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Author: Jeroen Korving

Playing Through Time: Ancient Structures on Courses in Europe

22 March 2023
9 min. read
Jeroen Korving
Golf, which originated in Scotland in the 15th century, has been a popular sport for centuries. Interestingly, some golf courses in Europe have even older structures on their premises, such as ancient aqueducts, castles, and bridges. These structures really do add to the history and excitement of the game, but also makes the course more interesting. This article will delve into some of Europe's most remarkable golf courses that feature ancient structures. So, get your clubs ready and embark on a journey through time!
Amazing view of the aquaduct at Golf Du Chateau De Maintenon, with the castle in the back (photo credits: member maurice123)

European courses with unique and ancient features

Below a selection of golf courses in Europe is listed which will blow you away if you love history. Play alongside ancient aquaducts, castles or ruins dating back centuries. 

Golf d'Opio Valbonne - Roman aquaduct

The Roman aquaduct at Golf d'Opio Valbonne (photo credits: Golf d'Opio Valbonne)

Golf d'Opio Valbonne, located between Cannes, Nice and Grasse, it is positioned as one of the jewels of the Riviera. Its golf course, one of the oldest in the region, was designed in 1966 by Donald Harradine and was renovated in 2002 and 2012. The Opio Valbonne Golf Resort offers an 18-hole golf course in a 220-hectare protected area offering a unique playing experience with its undulating and shaded terrain surrounded by hundred-year-old trees. The course is located between the sea and the mountains and is home to a Gallo-Roman aqueduct. Tee times for Golf d'Opio Valbonne can be booked online via Leading Courses!

Penha Longa Resort - Ancient aquaduct

Aerial view of the aquaduct at Penha Longa on the Atlantic course (photo credits: Penha Longa Resort)

Penha Longa Resort is situated in a Natural Park and nearby fashionable Cascais, enchanting Sintra, and historic Lisbon. This golf resort is an extraordinary combination of traditional European charisma and modern amenities. The name "Penha Longa" means "Long Rock" which has a rich history and scenic beauty. The resort has two golf courses, one of which is The Atlantic course that offers 18 holes and has an ancient aqueduct running parallel to the 6th hole's green and fairway. Penha Long tee times are bookable via Leading Courses.

Lahinch Golf Club - Dough Castle

View of Dough Castle on a cloudy day (photo credits: member Claudio.Cittarini

The Castle Course's 7th hole is set against the backdrop of Dough Castle (1306), which was originally established by the O'Connor family as their stronghold. However, they were eventually overthrown by the O'Brien family during Queen Elizabeth 1's reign. The current ruins were constructed after 1422 and were owned by Sir Donal O'Brien's family in 1584. The castle's poor foundation led to its collapse several times in the nineteenth century, leaving only one wall standing today. The sand-hills surrounding the castle are believed to be inhabited by Donn Dumhach, the Fairy King, according to local legend.

Archi Di Claudio Golf Club - Roman aquaduct

Playing alongside a Roman aquaduct (photo credits: Obsessive_Yodeler via Reddit)

The Archi di Claudio Golf Club, which is one of the latest golf clubs to open in Rome, features a 9-hole course that was designed by Sandro Monaco in 2003. Although the golf course itself might not be as impressive as some might anticipate, it is still noteworthy for its flat terrain and occasional olive groves, along with its view of an ancient Roman aqueduct.

Stonehaven Golf Club - Cowie Cemetry

View of the Cowie Cemetry on the 18th hole at Stonehaven Golf Club (photo credits: member saskiahollemans)

Stonehaven Golf Club offers a scenic and dramatic golf course in Aberdeenshire, with the best value for money in the North-East of Scotland. Overlooking the North Sea and the harbour town of Stonehaven, the club was founded in 1888 and opened a "new" course and clubhouse in 1897. The original chimney stack still stands by the 7th tee. The Cowie Cemetery, including an old graveyard and chapel, can be found next to the 18th hole and is accessible from the town or the golf course.

Old Head - 16th century lighthouse

Aerial view of the old lighthouse at Old Head (photo credits: Old Head)

The Old Head Golf Links is located on a 220-acre land mass that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, forming a diamond-shaped promontory. The location is strikingly similar to an island, and as you navigate through the course, you will discover numerous underground caves beneath your feet. On the 6th hole you will encounter the ruins of the old lighthouse, built around 1600. 

Golf Du Chateau De Maintenon - Ancient aquaduct

The ancient aquaduct that traverses the golf course of Golf Du Chateau De Maintenon (photo credits: member PBC)

Located less than an hour away from Paris, between Rambouillet and Chartres, lies Golf du Château de Maintenon. Situated within the historic surroundings of the Château's park, and traversed by an old aqueduct, Golf de Maintenon boasts an 18-hole course that is both flat and technical. Its main challenges are presented by the bodies of water and rivers that meander through the course.

Tralee Golf Club - Ancient tower

View of the two ancients structures at Tralee Golf Club (photo credits: member Claudio.Cittarini

Tralee Golf Club relocated from its original nine-hole course at Mounthawk near Tralee to Barrow in October 1984, where it opened its present Arnold Palmer-designed course. The Club's history dates back to 1896 when it established its first nine-hole course in Tralee. In 1897, it opened another nine-hole course in Fenit, on the south-western side of Barrow Harbour. A tower stands behind the third green overlooking the harbour which dates back to the 1190s.

Painswick Golf Club - Iron age fort

The green of the 5th is given additional protection by the steep inner slopes of the ramparts that run around the left and front of the green (photo credits: Painswick GC)

Painswick Golf Club offers a beautiful course on the Cotswolds escarpment with stunning views of Gloucestershire and the Welsh Mountains. The 5,000-yard, par-67 course is built on the remains of an Iron Age fort which is sometimes hard to see, but it definitelt adds character with blind spots and earth and stone ramparts on holes 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11.

Woodhall Spa - Tower on the Moor

View of the Tower on the Moor on the right (photo credits: member detroitgolfer)

At the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa, which is also home to England Golf, you can choose between two fantastic golf courses - the Hotchkin and the Bracken. The Hotchkin has been recently renovated by renowned golf course architect Tom Doak. The Tower on the Moor is a Scheduled Monument in Woodhall Spa. It was built in the 15th century and it is the remaining part of a nine metre square hunting lodge, built by Lord Ralph Cromwell who resided at nearby Tattershall Castle.

The Royal Malta Golf Club - Historical arch

The pin may be difficult to see, but you should be able to catch a glimpse through the historical arch (photo credits: member ljb72)

In 1888, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry D’Oyley Torrens established the Royal Malta Golf Club, and later also the Cape Golf Club in South Africa which later became known as Royal Cape GC. Due to restricted land availability, seven of the holes of RMGC were intersected by a horse-racing track, resulting in horses taking precedence. Eventually, in the late 1980s, the track became part of the golf course, making it fully self-contained. The course's standout feature is the 6th hole, with its magnificent historical arch serving as a striking backdrop.

Pennard Golf Club - Ruins of Pennard Castle

View of Pennard Castle on the 4th hole (photo credits: member karlbergh)

Pennard Golf Club, established in 1896, is a members-only club that permits non-members to visit. Dubbed as "The Links in the Sky," this golf course is a traditional links course that lies 200ft above sea level. Its soil drains easily, ensuring that the course remains playable all year round and has tight fairways, undulating terrain, and fast greens. Golfers can relish stunning views of Oxwich Bay and the famous Three Cliffs Bay, and the 4th hole has a view of the Pennard Castle ruins.

St Enodoc Golf Club - 11th Century St. Enodoc Church

View of the 11th Century St. Enodoc Church and the Atlantic from the tee box of the 14th hole (photo credits: member tvanbeers)

Situated on the North Cornwall coast, St Enodoc Golf Club is renowned for its spectacular vistas of the Camel Estuary, Padstow and the Atlantic. Perched atop lofty sand dunes, it provides an idyllic setting for golfers who seek stunning sea views. The club boasts two outstanding links courses, the Church course which was designed by James Braid, and the Holywell course. One of its most notable holes is the 10th on the Church course which leads to the 11th Century St. Enodoc Church, where the legendary golf enthusiast John Betjeman is buried.

Marco Simone - Roman Manor Farm

View of the tower of the Marco Simone castle (photo credits: Marco Simone)

The Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, situated close to Rome, comprises two golf courses - an 18-hole Championship Course and a 9-hole Resort Course. The club, named after the castle of Marco Simone, which was a fortified Roman manor farm, is located just 10 miles away from the city centre of Rome. The tower of the castle, constructed around 1000 AD, was augmented by additional buildings during the Middle Ages. In 2015, the club won the bid to host the 2023 Ryder Cup. Tee times at Marco Simone can be booked via Leading Courses!

There are most likely a lot of other courses with ancient structures, so please let us know through social media if we missed a few. We focused mainly on relatively large structures, so we did not include pillars, statues, watering holes, etc. I would like to thank our incredible team of Leading Courses Ambassadors for their valuable suggestions and input. 

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