Just three hours drive south ofLisboninPortugal’s southernmost region is theAlgarve, one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the world. Over 100 miles of coastline, exquisite beaches, 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, and numerous superb golf courses to play are all within an hours drive. The greens and fairways are lush, and the umbrella pines, almond, and eucalyptus trees create for an unusual golfing experience.
Located in Quinta do Logo and a 10 minute courtesy bus ride from the Dona Filipa Hotel, the San Lorenzo Golf Course, designed by Joseph Lee, is one of the golf highlights inPortugal. While much of the course meanders through typical pine woods, it also opens up to magnificent ocean vistas and distant mountain backdrops. A large portion of the course is an extension of the Ria Formosa Estuary with fairways that run alongside saltwater marshes and freshwater lagoons. This protected environment is the habitat of over 70 species of birds. Visitors must beresident guests at the Dona Filipa Hotel in order to guarantee advance tee times here.
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club – North Course
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club North Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened for play in 2007. This Par 72 championship course is located near the Portugal/Spain border at the foothills of the Serra doCaldeiraoMountainsto the north and theAtlantic Oceanto the south. The layout uses the spectacular natural terrain of the area to present a challenging layout including natural water hazards, indigenous trees and plants and breathtaking views out to the sea and the countryside. Ranked #96 on Golf Digest’s list of 100 Greatest Courses Outside theUS.
Vale do Lobo Golf Club – Royal Course
This is a very scenic course with lovely cliff top views of the Atlantic and its beaches below, as well as theAlgarve’s countryside. Originally designed by Sir Henry Cotton, Vale do Lobo Royal is most famous for its Par 3 sixteenth hole, arguably one of the most photographed inEurope, where you are required to carry your tee shot over two cliff-side chasms in the red sandstone cliffs to the green. The fairways are undulating and almost without exception they are quite narrow and lined with mature umbrella pines.
Vale do Lobo Golf Club – Ocean Course
The Ocean Golf Course at Vale do Lobo features undulating fairways which run alongside a nature reserve, before leading gently down to the shores of the Atlantic. The front nine are located on a slightly hilly land which characterizes Vale do Lobo, and are surrounded by pine trees with sea views from several holes. The back nine have spectacular ocean views, with some holes almost stretching down to the beach.
Oceanico Faldo Course
Opened in 2008, the Oceanico Faldo Course is one of the newer layouts in theAlgarveregion. This Par 72 7,216 yard championship course demands careful positioning to score well. In a modern twist of a traditional recipe, cacti and wild herbs replace the role of Sunningdale’s heather, spartan Holm oaks and ancient olive trees take the place of a lush English woodland, and desert scrub bunkers of crushed limestone replace theBerkshire’s sandy tracts in a golf course that revels in the classic principles of strategic play.
Oceanico O’Connor Jnr Course
Designed by Christy O’Connor, Jr. and opened in 2008, the Oceanico O’Connor Course has various water features, both lakes and watercourses, that are spread throughout the entire course demanding accuracy from all golfers. The course is planted with mature palm trees, affording a lush, ornamental setting. Christy’s 18th hole brings the course to a fantastic finish, a gentle climb with the river running along the right-hand side.
Oceanico Old Course (Vilamoura Old)
Host to the Portuguese Open in 1979, the Old Course is considered by many to be the “Grand Dame” of theAlgarvecourses. Formerly known as Vilamoura #1/Old, the course was designed by Frank Pennink and built in 1969. In 1997 this classic design was given a face lift. The verdant fairways of the course run through surrounding pine trees, adding an extra challenge to your game. This is a very attractive course with a great variety of holes, perfectly maintained due to a sophisticated irrigation system. The Par 3 holes are all different and visually very beautiful, representing the toughest challenge on the course. They require careful selection of irons and near perfect ball control. Over therest of the course the umbrella pines play a decisive role, lining the doglegs and punishing any careless strokes. The greens are small, especially on the shorter holes, where there is simply no margin for error.
Quinta do Lago – North & South Courses
The complex that makes up the The Quinta do Lago Courses originally had four nine hole loops (A, B, C & D). The Championship Quinta do Lago South Course consists of loops B & C. Designed by William Mitchell and opened in 1974, Quinta do Lago South has hosted the Portuguese Open on eight occasions. A recent renovation has transformed the four loops into two 18-hole courses, The South & The North Courses. The South Course allows the player to approach greens in very different ways. The signature hole is the Par 3 fifteenth with a long carry over a large lake to a green set among pine trees. Quinta do Lago is part of the Natural Park of Ria Formosa, an eco-system that is home to a great variety of birds.
Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort – Penina Championship Golf Course
Opened in 1966 and designed by Sir Henry Cotton, Le Meridien Penina Championship Course was the first golf course to be built in theAlgarve. The Championship course has been host to the Portuguese Open on numerous occasions, most recently in 2006. Theresort is located in the southern region of theAlgarvebetween Portimao andLagos. The holes are crossed and flanked by a series of streams, ditches and water hazards, demanding precisely executed shots to avoid trouble and achieve par. The course is beautifully maintained, winding past tall stands of eucalyptus and clumps of palm to mainly elevated greens which have subtle slopes and sometimes very fast speeds.
Vila Sol Golf Course
Designed by famed architect Donald Steel, the original Vila Sol Golf Course opened in 1991 and hosted the Portuguese Open for the following two years. The course winds through an immense pine forest where fig trees, oaks and almond trees are also featured. Vila Sol is a typical inland golf course of the British school, posing a test for a golfer’s strategic skills. Its narrow fairways demand accurate driving, while one is also faced with lakes and bunkers, along with fast greens. .
Pine Cliffs Golf Course
The Pine Cliffs Golf Course, designed by Martin Hawtree, is a 9-hole course located at the Sheraton Algarve Hotel Resort. Built in a pine woodland at the edge of spectacular cliffs overlooking the beautiful beaches of the Algarve and the Atlantic beyond, the Par 3 ‘Devil’s Parlour’ is famous throughout the world as your tee shot must cross a chasm and the cliffs below to land on a deep but narrow green and which also offers sumptuous views over the Atlantic Ocean.