A spot for wintering European players or anyone looking to travel
March 23, 2022 by Bogi Bjarnason in Travel with 0 comments
As the concept of being a full time touring pro without ever having to step foot inside the USA has become a reality on the European continent, residents of the frozen tundras of the Nordics and Baltics face a unique new challenge: where do I spend my off-season? Europe has no Fountain Hills or a city equivalent to Charlotte.
Hence, quick getaways to Mijas, Andalucia, have provided a short term solution, but constant winds and a general lack of trees make the south of Spain a less than ideal solution to the problem.
During the last few years, the northern provinces have emerged as Spain’s hotspot of disc golf culture, with new courses popping up on wooded hillsides across the region with surprising regularity. Sure, the temperature may hover a couple of degrees lower than in Mijas or Cádiz, but to the average tundra dweller, most February days will feature a decent stretch of T-shirt weather during peak disc golf hours. An added bonus is obviously the much, much lower real estate price as compared to northern Europe, and the fact that peak Airbnb rates are realized during periods when you yourself will be out on tour, leaving the property unoccupied and ripe for yielding tourist dollars.
But I digress. Let’s not focus an entire article on the desires of a half dozen Finns. These regions and all their off-season tournament offerings also provide a plethora of options for a winter break for you, the average 850-rated recreational player.
So let’s dive in!
1. Barcelona (Disc Golf Palau)
Barcelona sits firmly on the list of the 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world. Lonely Planet’s online travel guide describes this sunny Mediterranean location as “an enchanting seaside city with boundless culture, fabled architecture and a world-class drinking and dining scene.”
Although the beach at Barceloneta feels less than hospitable during the disc golf off-season, football (soccer to the American audience) is alive and kicking over the winter months. Furthermore, culture, music, the arts, and the Barcelona casino know no season, and the Sunday weekly at Disc Golf Palau is played year round.
The Palau Solitá i Plegamans public park can be found some 20 minutes outside of Barcelona proper and features a one year old course that exploits the canvas to the fullest with mostly short and gettable holes that wind through skinny trees which exist only to annoy with birdie killing kicks. The tournament/weekly layout is slightly tougher, but personally I shot 49 points over my rating at their weekly when playing it semi-blind, so the challenge is a relative term. This course is part of the Spanish tour and it stops here in December. This is your family vacation disc golf destination both in summer and winter.
2. Oviedo (Parque Purificación Tomás/Parque de Invierno)
Oviedo is Barcelona’s polar opposite. With the toughest course in southern Europe at Parque Purificación Tomás, Oviedo has established itself as the Mecca of Spanish disc golf and has hosted the crown jewel of the country’s tournament scene, the Open de España, since 2016. While Barcelona is a haven of tourism, Oviedo, the cleanest city in Spain, has no foreign tourism whatsoever. Yet there is plenty to see and experience here. The views are breathtaking, the food is both cheap and tasty, and there is even skiing available an hour or two away. Oviedo is the starting point for the Camino de Santiago, a legendary hiking route that winds its way across the rugged hills of Asturias and Galicia to Santiago de Compostela, the third and final destination in our Spanish disc golf feature.
Oviedo is a city of around 200,000 people. It’s the capital of the Asturias region and lies about half an hour out from the tiny Asturias airport, which connects tightly to the rest of the country but very scarcely to international destinations. It’s the only Spanish city with multiple public courses. Centrally at Parque de Invierno, you’ll find nine holes with mandos galore that snake up and down steep hills and through tight trees. On the outskirts of the city lies the main attraction: Parque Purificación Tomás. Words can not do it justice. But this video of James Proctor dominating the tournament layout certainly will:
Unless you´re invited by Javier Bardem on a private airplane, Oviedo is not an easy place to get to, but I promise you it is worth it!
3. Santiago de Compostela (Monte do Gozo)
Santiago de Compostela is a city of rich culture and deep rooted history, which makes it the capital of the Galicia region despite being dwarfed by neighboring city of A Coruña. While the 18 holes in Oviedo lie nestled on a literal mountainside, the 18 on Monte do Gozo are perched across gentle rolling hills. The layout, particularly the front 9, relies heavily on greens protected by low ceilings and a handful of very technical shot shapes, but the backside opens up to an exciting birdie fest where bogeys are very hard to come by. The only knock on the design is a threesome of excessively long walks between course sections. A longer layout is set up for tournament plays, such as the Open Xacobeo being played over Easter Weekend.
Santiago connects to London Stansted airport with very short flights on the low cost airline Ryanair and the tournament offers accommodation in the newly renovated Monte do Gozo hostel, which, as the name suggests, is situated inside the actual course. If you have any boxes that this tournament doesn’t check, you have far too many boxes.