While that sense of tranquillity is usually shattered once you hit your first tee shot into the rough, those few hours on the course still provide an oft-needed opportunity to escape the stresses and strains of modern-day parenting.
While full-time fatherhood may mean that your regular sojourns to the fairways become less frequent, it doesn't necessarily have to spell the end of your dream to reach a single-figure handicap. Golf holidays have long been favoured by groups of blokes looking for an excuse to get away with their mates, but there's no reason why you can't plan your next family break to include a round or two on one of the many pristine layouts to be found in leading holiday destinations around the world.
One of the most popular hotspots for British families has always been the south of Spain – offering great weather and top facilities just a short flight away from the UK. The good news for dad is that the area also boasts some of the finest golf courses around, making it the perfect destination for combining a family holiday with a golfing break – and there's no finer destination than the vast Sotogrande estate.
Situated just 20 minutes from Gibraltar airport, the huge, 20sq km development is a bonafide mecca for golf fans, boasting five superb courses including the renowned Valderrama Golf Club, which played host to the 1997 Ryder Cup – won by Europe under the captaincy of the legendary Seve Ballesteros.
Occupying a spectacular location that provides stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding mountains, the estate also offers superb resorts such as the NH Hotel Almenara. Perched atop the highest point in Sotogrande, the Almenara boasts an enviable location, with its three nine-hole courses making the most of the local scenery.
The 148 bungalow-style rooms surround a central reception, bar and restaurant area, while the resort's clubhouse features a sun- filled terrace that overlooks the Almenara courses – and the rest of the sprawling Sotogrande estate, with views all the way to the sea.
First opened in 1998, Almenara added its most recent course in 2001 and now the three nine-hole layouts can be combined with each other to create three distinctive 18- hole challenges.
The courses all start high up by the hotel before winding down through the valley – often around vast lakes – and then rising up through pine trees and cork oaks. The views afforded by the courses' location mean you are treated to some truly breathtaking tee shots, with the Mediterranean Sea on the horizon.
In addition to all the world-class golf that is on offer, the Almenara resort also has plenty to keep the whole family entertained. Kids under five can join the Miniclub, which provides professional care in an outdoor play space, while older children can join the Sotogrande Kids Club, which offers a variety of outings and organised trips, including camping, evening activities and sports such as paddleball and horse riding. For budding Lee Westwoods, there is also the Sotogrande Golf Academy, which offers courses for children, including individual lessons and group classes, to help your little ones become golfing giants.
Mums haven't been forgotten either, with the Elysium Spa providing a relaxing refuge for over- worked parents, featuring an extensive list of treatments as well as a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and Turkish Hammam. There's also a fully equipped gym for those who haven't already been tired out enough by hyperactive kids.
If you don't mind the credit card taking a bashing, then a day trip away from the resort to Puerto Banús will see the missus in retail heaven, with luxurious shops featuring all most desirable (and expensive) brands in the world.
With so much on offer, it's little wonder that many choose to make Sotogrande their home, with a variety of residential developments on offer on the estate. For now, though, why not start by packing the clubs and the pushchair and heading there for a holiday? We don't think you'll regret it – and who knows, your handicap may even come down a shot or two while you're there. Either way, the whole family are sure to return with broad smiles on their faces.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Award winning low fares airline Monarch offers year-round flights to Gibraltar from London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £38.99 one way (£69.99 return).
In addition to year-round low fares, Monarch also offers a range of hot and cold meals that can be pre-booked or purchased onboard with prices from £3.00. Seats can be pre-booked at £7.50 per one-way flight to avoid the last minute free-for-all experienced on some other airlines, or for only £20, extra-legroom seats are available, which offer up to six inches of extra space.
Passengers travelling on scheduled flights can also avoid the queues at the airport and take advantage of online check-in, which is available between 18 days and 4.5 hours prior to departure.
For more information or to book, visit www.monarch.co.uk