Top international golf tourism association reveals its 2016 golf destination picks.
The gala awards ceremony that annually punctuates the final night of the highly popular International Golf Travel Market (IGTM, produced by Reed Exhibitions), wrapped a week of travel networking during a beautiful October (2015) on the Spanish island of Tenerife, just off the western coast of the African Sahara.
Hundreds of attendees took their place among an ocean of tables placed under the stars and within the walls of Siam Park Tenerife water park (“The Water Kingdom”). With Champagne flowing, International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) President and Chief Executive Peter Walton took the stage to reveal the organization’s 2016 golf destination picks in a variety of categories.
Spread fairly evenly across all points on the planet’s compass, IAGTO’s selections comprise a set of international layouts that appear more than deserving of the honor. To the winners, LinkedGolfers offers many congratulations.
Just one question: When are you having us over for a friendly round?
The Commonwealth of Australia island state of Tasmania is as stunning as it is remote. Separated from the southern mainland by the Bass Strait, “Tassie” has quickly become a must-visit destination for golfers, thanks mainly to the Barnbougle Dunes (a Tom Doak/Mike Clayton design) and Lost Farm (Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw) tracks that were an instant hit with golf media when the Dunes course opened in 2005.
IAGTO continued its ocean voyage with the announcement that the island of Mauritius was the winner of the 2016 “Golf Destination of the Year: Africa, Indian Ocean & Gulf States.”
The small island east of Madagascar doesn’t see a lot of visitors, but that’s part of its appeal. Those who do make the effort are rewarded with lifelong memories, judging by the common use of terms such as “luxurious” and “extravagant” that appear in reviews across the Net to describe the island’s properties–and dozen or so courses..
The southern coast of Portugal has a wealth of great golf. IAGTO sheds some light on Lisbon after declaring Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort its pick for the “Golf Resort of the Year: Europe.”
The Bay Hill Club & Lodge in the Orlando, Fl. vicinity, is one of the few places that doesn’t have to fight Disneyworld for international attention. The club where Arnold Palmer is known to spend the winter months, can now add the IAGTO 2016 “Resort of the Year: North America” award to its trophy case.
Vietnam has been raking in golf awards for the last few years, and 2016’s IAGTO “Destination of the Year: Asia and Australasia” award extends the country’s streak. (Pictured: Siem Reap Booyoung Country Club)
Australian Elizabeth Sattler accepts the IAGTO “Undiscovered Destination of the Year” award on behalf of Tasmania.
A member of the family behind Barnbougle Dunes, “Biz” has held plenty of awards. However, “This one is a little different,” she says. “This is an award that speaks a lot to the value of Tasmania as a whole.
IAGTOs choice for “Destination of the Year: Latin America & The Caribbean” was handed to the Dominican Republic. The country features numerous cliffside courses, including Punta Espada (pictured).
In the IAGTO category of 2016 “Sustainable Golf Destination of the Year: Asia,” the award goes to… Mission Hills Haikou, in Hainan, China. Thanks to environmental initiatives designed to remove trash on the ground, toxins from the air, and to subject industrial companies to more rigorous emission controls, the sprawling area that is reportedly 1.5 times the size of Manhattan is now one of the cleanest in the country.
Any golf destination with a footprint as large as the five-course PGA National Resort needs to deliver services with plenty of sensitivity–for the environment. Winning IAGTOs 2016 “Sustainable Course of the Year: Americas” award is proof enough for us that the Palm Beach, Fl. destination ticks all the boxes when it comes to running a clean, conservation-driven operation.
The 2016 IAGTO “Resort of the Year: Rest of the World” award excludes North America and Europe, but still covers a vast amount of ground. The winner, Banyan the Resort in Thailand, features lush vegetation, adjacent coastline, and plenty of services to inspire golfer and non-golfer alike to make the trek.
He won the U.S Open in 2005 and a cool million pounds Sterling at the HSBC Matchplay Tournament during the same year. IAGTO honored the career of the New Zealand native just more than 10 years later, by electing him as the recipient of the 2016 “Honorary Award. “
Hilton Head Island (South Carolina) has long been a popular getaway for golfers from around the U.S. Being the newly crowned recipient of IAGTO’s 2016 “Destination of the Year: North America” award will only add to the area’s southern charms. (Pictured: Palmetto Hall Plantation Course)
Not to be outdone, the La Galiana Golf Course of Spain, has dedicated both significant time and funds toward its own sustainable efforts. La Galiana’s careful construction and environmental planning netted it one of three awards IAGTO set up to acknowledge special places that have a friendly relationship with the environment.–the 2016 “Sustainable Golf Course of the Year: Europe” award.
Winner of the IAGTO “Golf Destination of the Year: Europe” award, the Lisboa Golf Coast region is blessed with beauty.
IAGTO 2016 Golf Destination Picks
IAGTO Honorary Award
Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year
Golf Destination of the Year – Africa, Indian Ocean & Gulf States
Golf Destination of the Year – Asia & Australasia
Golf Destination of the Year – Europe
Lisboa Golf Coast
Golf Destination of the Year – Latin America & The Caribbean
Golf Destination of the Year – North America
Hilton Head Island, USA
Golf Resort of the Year – Europe
Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort
Golf Resort of the Year – North America
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Golf Resort of the Year – Rest of World
Banyan the Resort, Hua Hin
Sustainable Golf Course of the Year – Americas
PGA National Resort & Spa, Florida, USA
Sustainable Golf Course of the Year – Europe
La Galiana Golf Course, Spain
Sustainable Golf Course of the Year – Asia
Mission Hills Haikou, China
Sean T. Kelly is a writer, editor, and content director who has nearly 25 years' experience developing material in print, online, and over the air. His work has appeared on the New York Times "Best Seller List," international magazine covers, and the Today Show, among others. Sean is currently focusing on the intersection of travel, lifestyle, and mobile technologies. He is the owner/director LinkedGolfers.
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