For many visitors to the Algarve, the central portion of the region will be the destination of choice, with the beautiful area boasting some of Portugal’s finest golf courses and resorts.
Golfers have long flocked to the region to make the most of Dom Pedro Golf’s fantastic array of championship golf courses. Within close proximity to the sun drenched harbour resort of Vilamoura, are among the most popular layouts for golfers visiting the Algarve.
Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood, are just some of the big names who have been crowned Portugal Masters champion over the Arnold Palmer designed Victoria, a long, bunker-strewn layout, which ranks among the finest courses in Portugal.
Playing 7,300 yards from the back pegs and with the golfer required to navigate huge bunkers and water hazards on almost every hole, the course offers a stern test, although with six tee offerings, it ensures a fair challenge to all. The nearby Old Course, one of the Algarve’s original layouts, is among the jewels in Dom Pedro’s crown.
With every hole encircled by mature cork pine trees, the immaculately maintained course serves up a very different challenge to its illustrious neighbour, but is sure to enchant with its beautiful array of natural and thoughtprovoking holes. Pinhal is a picturesque parkland course dotted with umbrella and Atlantic pines, while Laguna demonstrates the variety of courses on offer in the area, with water coming into play on eleven of the eighteen holes.
The latest addition to the group, Millennium, opened in 2000, and is another of the top-rated courses in the portfolio. The layout is very much a tale of two halves, with the first half plotting its way through the pine trees before opening up over the closing holes, which originally formed part of a 27-hole complex at the Laguna course.
The superb course at Pestana Vila Sol merges effortlessly with its natural environment, with designer Donald Steel making the most of the indigenous pine, cork, and fig trees which line every hole on the undulating layout. Situated close to Vilamoura, golfers will find the course in immaculate condition, and will need to contend with expertly-positioned water hazards and bunkers throughout.
Nearby San Lorenzo is a world-class golf course that frequently ranks among the top fifty courses in Europe, and is considered by many the finest golf course in
the Algarve. Gifted a stunning setting and fantastic-draining sandy soil, the course, which runs adjacent to the Ria Formosa Estuary, a marshland haven for birdlife, is built upon prime golfing terrain.
Exciting and spectacular holes feature throughout, with the ocean and Ria Formosa coming into play on several holes, and the umbrella pines that line the fairways making for a tight challenge.
The prestigious resort at Quinta do Lago is celebrating its landmark 45th anniversary this year, and boasts three celebrated championship layouts, as well as exceptional practice facilities.
Sitting among 2,000 acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park, the resort was named ‘Europe’s Best Golf Venue’ at the 2016 World Golf Awards, while the totally revamped North Course was awarded ‘Europe’s Best New Golf Course.’
Opened in October 2014 by renowned American golf architect Beau Welling in close collaboration with Paul McGinley, a €9.6m investment in the championship course has seen the latest edition receive wide-acclaim, with an emphasis placed on precision and strategy.
Meanwhile the South Course is a favourite among European Tour professionals, and despite calling for accurate drives and precise shots, rewards players for their efforts with the stunning backdrop of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Completing the trio is Laranjal.
Designed in the grounds of an orange grove, the par-72 course was named as Portugal’s Best Golf Course 2011 at the Portuguese Travel Awards, and poses a serious test for players of all abilities.
The 27-holes at Pinheiros Altos, also located within the luxury complex, has three loops of nine which carve their way majestically through the beautiful natural landscape, each named after the cork, pines and olive groves that frame each course respectively.
Off the course, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor leisure pursuits for guests to enjoy, whether it’s one of the many classes in the resort’s state-of-the-art gym, or an outside activity in the glorious surroundings. Dolphin watching, kayaking, watersports, horse riding and scuba diving are just some of the activities on offer at Quinta Do Lago, while the resort has a great selection of top quality restaurants.
The many courses littered along the beautiful coastline are renowned for their glorious views across the Atlantic Ocean.
Nowhere is this truer than at Vale do Lobo, which is worth a visit just for the jawdropping vistas alone. The highlight at Portugal’s largest luxury golf resort is the Royal’s signature par-3 16th, which lies precariously on the clifftop, with the ocean ready to gobble up an errant tee shot, and is arguably the most photographed hole in Europe.
The Royal, with its rolling fairways set amidst pine trees and lakes surrounded by wildflowers, is considered the finer of the two courses, and beyond the 16th, there are several other sensational holes, including the ninth, with its partial island green. The Ocean Course, composed of the two original 9-hole golf courses designed by Sir Henry Cotton, features gently undulating fairways which run alongside the edge of a nature reserve before leading gently down to the shores of the Atlantic.
The luxury resort at Vale Do Labo opened in 1962 as the first self-contained resort of its kind in the Algarve, and continues to harbour a reputation as one of the region’s best complexes. As well as the two championship golf courses, facilities include a 2km beach, a plethora of leisure facilities, restaurants and bars, and a tennis academy.
The clifftop offering at Pine Cliffs is one of the region’s most spectacular courses, with golfers afforded fantastic views across the gorgeous expanse of white sand beach and the Atlantic beyond.
Perched 200 feet above the ocean, the Martin Hawtree design carves its way through the mature pines. It also features one of the most jaw-dropping holes in the Algarve, the par-3 6th - known as the Devil’s Parlour - in which golfers must play over a jagged precipice.
Salgados Golf Course, set on the flat lands behind the sandy beach of Praia de Gale, is set in a natural reserve, and enjoys similarly remarkable vistas. Exposed, and often at the mercy of the elements, the Salgados plays more like a links course, but with the added benefit of the beautiful sunshine.
The central Algarve, running from Faro to Lagos, is the most popular area for tourists and encompasses some of the region’s best beaches. Vilamoura is the hub of golfing activity, and with so many championship golf courses and a buzzing nightlife, makes for a great base to explore the area. The resort town offers a variety of accommodation options, stretching from luxury hotels, privately-owned villas and apartments on golf course complexes, while the marina is crammed full of bars, restaurants and designer shops.
Nearby Faro, the airport services the region, is often overlooked, but is a lovely city. Within the city walls lie a network of cobbled streets and squares, as well as an old cathedral. From the city visitors should take a short boat trip along the Ria Formosa - a network of lagoons and marshland that is home to an abundance of wildlife and some of the Algarve’s best beaches.
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