Europe’s golf coast
More than 30-developments now span the Algarve’s five regions from “Sotaventa”, the eastern tip, to “Costa Vicentina”, Europe’s most westerly extreme.
Read Global Golfer’s guide to Europe’s Golf Coast…
- Villamoura: the Rolls Royce of Algarve Golf
- Sweet 16 at Vale De Lobo Royal
- Tackle the 604-yard “Giant” at Alto Golf
- Penina: Henry Cotton’s aristocrat on the Algarve
- Speciality wines at Morgado do Reguengo
Portugal’s Algarve is a mecca for golf tourists and it’s easy to see why it remains one of the most trusted and popular European golf destinations.
A mixture of excellent courses, sunshine, white sand beaches, rusty orange cliffs, friendly people and easy links to Faro International airport equals a great golf break.
A new motorway allowing access to Algarve’s westerly reaches in less than an hour means golfers are spoilt for choice in choosing where to play and stay.
The greatest cluster of courses is in the ‘Barlavento’ region.
Barlevento is the central coast between the Algarve’s capital Faro and Portimao.
Here you will find some of the Algarve’s best known and celebrated courses.
Vila Sol, close to the luxury resort of Villamoura, is a Championship layout that has hosted the Algarve Open de Portugal on the European Tour.
It has 27-holes, with the original 18 are set amongst pines, cork oak and fig trees and features ten lakes and streams.
San Lorenzo, closer to Faro airport and set among the inlets and estuaries of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, is a must-play venue.
The Ria Formosa is also home to Quinta da Ria and Quinta da Cima, near the coastal town of Tavira.
Opened in 2002, as a resort and a championship layout, they are receiving worthy acclaim in the “Sotavento” region.
Further west towards the town of Portimao are some of the Algarve’s more unusual golf developments.
Quinta da Gramacho at Carvoeiro is an imaginative layout, with 18 tees and fairways but 27 greens, and was designed with the help of past Open champion Nick Price.
It is a natural course with rock outcropping and eight holes have double greens.
Like its neighbour, Vale da Pinta – set in an old olive grove – Gramacho is well conditioned, and if you’re game needs fine tuning there is a David Leadbetter academy at Pinta.
Salgados, near Praia Grande ten minutes west of Albufeira is an enjoyable round but not for the wayward driver.
This 6080 metre par 72 has water hazards on 16 of its 18 holes.
An open links-like course, it is situated between sanddunes, fresh water lakes and salt water lagoons.
For a more leisurely round try the short but challenging nine-hole par-three course at Vale de Milho.
Two other nine-hole par-three layouts are the new course at Balaia Village, opened in 2003, and Pine Cliffs where holes are set around the Algarve’s quintessential golden cliffs.
All are good for the beginner and intermediate golfer.
The westerly Costa Vicentina region is best known for Penina, close to Portimao, and the first course built on the Algarve.
Designed and built by Sir Henry Cotton in 1966, Penina regularly hosts the Portugese Open and put the Algarve on the world golf map.
It’s a thrilling mix of dogleg holes, short par-fives, tree-lined fairways and water hazards.
Parque da Floresta in the hills bordering the Costa Vicentina nature reserve, is a course like no other.
Its undulating terrain and terrific par-three’s make it an infinitely playable challenge.
Close to Lagos and the beaches of Meia-Praia, is Palmares.
It boasts the finest opening hole of any course on the Western Algarve.
A dramatic descending dogleg, the hole starts off a course with six links holes and 12 atop rolling hills and valleys, looking over the Serra de Monchique mountains.
Palmares was recently bought by a consortium including Portugal’s largest supermarket chain and redeveloped into a 27-hole golf resort with plans underway for a five star hotel, spa and residential properties available to buy.
Global Golfer played at Palmares as an 18-hole course and would like to hear from readers who have played the new holes.
Why not review it for us and keep the Global Golfer community up to date?
Alto golf, near Penina at Alvor, is a gentler layout and has one of the longest holes in Europe – the “Giant” 16th at 604-metres.
Two new developments at Boavista and Morgado de Reguengo, are also drawing acclaim to the region.
Boavista, opened in 2002, has historic ruins as on-course hazards while Morgado de Reguengo – opened in 2003 – is a links-style course built further inland between Monchique and Portimao.
Both are terrific additions to a region known for its unspoilt landscape and incomparable ocean views.
Villamoura, near Faro airport, is the Rolls Royce of the Algarve and a golf destination in its own right.
There are five courses at Villamoura, including the newest Arnold Palmer designed Victoria course, opened in 2004.
A Championship layout at 7105 yards, the Palmer design team built 18 greens in different shapes and sizes, on a links style course that features 22 lakes.
It may come to eclipse Villamoura’s Old Course as its signature venue.
Built in 1969 amongst umbrella pines, the Old has consistently ranked in Europe’s top-50 courses by Golf World.
The three remaining courses: Pinhal, Millenium and Laguna, give this resort a broad fair golfing challenge for players of all abilities.
VALE DO LOBO
This exclusive private resort is home to two of the Algarve’s most scenic courses and the most photographed hole in Algarve golf.
The Royal and Ocean courses enjoy unparalleled settings, overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
In this setting, atop golden cliffs, you’ll find the par-three 16th at the Royal course: a golfing spectacle that is unforgettable.
You must carry 218metres, over three jutting rusty crags, to a green setback against an ocean view that spans miles.
Best seen at the sun is going down, it is both terrifying and spiritual.
Both courses are fantastically manicured and offer some of the best golf in the Algarve, many European Tour players including Jarmo Sandelin have made home here in the past.
Tel:+351 289 300 505
San Lorenzo Golf Club
Tel: +351 289 396 522
Quinta da Ria and Quinta da Cima
Tel: +351 281 950 580
Tel: +351 282 340 900
Vale da Pinta
Tel: +351 282 340 900
Salgados Golf Club
Tel: +351 289 58 30 30
Vale de Milho
Tel: +351 282 358 502
Balaia Golf Village
Tel: +351 289 57 02 00
Pine Cliffs Resort
Tel: +351 289 500 100
Le Meridien Penina Golf and Resort
Tel: +351 282 420 200
Parque da Floresta
Tel: +351 282 690 054
Tel: +351 282 790 500
Tel: +351 282 460 870
Tel: +351 282 782 150
Villamoura Old, Victoria, Pinhal, Laguna, Millenium
Tel: +351 289 310 333/4/5
Ocean Course Vale do Lobo
Tel: +351 289 353 465
Royal Course Vale do Lobo
Tel: +351 289 353 465
Tel: +351 289 359 910