Global Golfer found sandy gold cliffs, picture postcard villages and golf courses aplenty in Western Algarve…
- Picture postcard fishing villages
- Par three’s galore at Parque de Floresta
- Highly rated new development at Palmares Golf
- Homegrown wine tasting at Morgado do Requengo
- Class is permanent at Penina
From Sagres in the west to Lagos further east, dramatic ocean views from the Algarve coast inspired the Portugese to set sail and found an historic Empire built on maritime trade.
Now, it’s golfers who chart a course to par on this long stretch of Portugese Coast, seeking to enjoy their best game in the warm sun.
There are few better places to enjoy a golf holiday than the Western Algarve.
The Costa Vicentina region is home to six of the finest courses on the Algarve.
All are reachable in less than an hour by motorway from Faro International Airport.
The hillsides bordering Costa Vicentina’s Nature reserve are the setting for Parque de Floresta, a luxury golf resort where no two holes play the same.
Designed by Spanish architect Pepe Gancedo, this 18-hole, 5,670 metre layout, features dramatic changes in elevation and holes overlooking the fishing village of Salema and the Atlantic ocean.
Short to medium length par-three’s are Parque da Floresta’s best holes.
At the short 5th you need to lob to a green 70 metres below the tee.
The 11th and 15th holes are packed with drama and the tee-shots must carry 150 metres over lakes to reach the safety of the greens.
The par-four 18th is also a stirring finish.
The elevated green sits in the shadow of the clubhouse terrace and has remarkable ocean views.
At Palmares – which runs behind the white sand beaches of Meia-Praia close to historic Lagos – you will experience one of the finest opening tee-shots in Algarve golf.
From a lofty perch above the narrow tree-lined fairway, the 418-metre first gazes down on a stunning stretch of Atlantic coastline, before the sharp dogleg swings left to right to the green.
The opening six-holes are links in character and, while short, they are far from easy.
The 6th, at just 344-metres, sounds tame, and is when played with a long-iron to the corner of the 90-degree dogleg then a short pitch to the green.
The player who sees that the green is only 280-yards away as the crow flies – over marsh and reeds – can certainly reach if he strikes it well, but risks out-of-bounds through the green.
The course changes in style at the 7thand winds uphill atop rolling valleys to offer soothing views of the Serra de Monchique mountains.
Palmares begins spectacularly and ends well at the uphill 18th, where the two-tiered green makes putting difficult.
The clubhouse offers soothing panoramic ocean views of the Bay of Lagos.
A further 9-holes has been added to Palmares in recent years as the club was bought by new owners.
The three nines are now called Alvor, Lagos and Praia, and the developers plan to add a five star hotel, spa and residential community.
If you have been to Palmares recently, let us know how the new holes have bedded down – why not write a reader review for the Global Golfer community?
The Championship course at Penina, par 73 and 6,273-metres, is an aristocrat of Algarve golf.
Penina was the first course built in the Algarve and was masterminded by former Open Champion Sir Henry Cotton in 1966.
Penina’s success is credited with putting the Algarve on the world map as a golf destination.
The course is heavily tree-lined and incorporates lakes, streams and a number of severe dogleg holes, yet the greens are big and forgiving.
The 388-metre par-four 9th and the 493-metre par-five 10th are a pair of testing dog-legs that could easily derail your score.
Whilst Penina has five par-fives, the 431-metre 18th is easily the best birdie chance.
Avoid the stream cutting across the fairway at driving distance, and the grand fairway bunker that catches tee-shots which miss right, and the green is easily reached in two shots.
Penina also offers two 9-hole courses, the Resort and the Academy, which beginners and intermediates will enjoy.
Close to Penina, at the picturesque fishing village of Alvor, is Alto Golf.
Not as distinguished as its famous neighbour, Alto is a great place for the recreational golfer.
Designed by Sir Henry Cotton, it is playable by all standards and can test lower handicaps, especially at “Giant” – the par-five 16th at 604-metres – said to be one of the longest holes in Europe.
The Western Algarve also boasts two stunning young developments – Boavista and Morgado de Reguengo.
Boavista, opened in January 2002, is located between Lagos and the beaches of Praia de Luz with historic ruins as on-course hazards.
It has some of the best short holes in the region.
Further inland and north, on the Algarve Downs between Monchique and Portimao, is a relatively young 18-hole course at Morgado do Reguengo.
Opened in 2003, this long difficult course has the feel of a links in a mountainous setting. A second 18-hole course is planned.
The greens are fast, firm and among the best in the Algarve.
Two lakes come into play at the 3rd, 4th and 14th holes and can easily sink your score.
The 14th is a classic short par-four full of danger.
Overcome your nerves to find a fairway jammed between lake, bunkers and clinging rough, leaving only a flick to the green.
The 415-metre par-four 18th, well bunkered to the right and playing into the prevailing breeze, is a tough finish before the delights of Morgado’s clubhouse.
It sits on a hilltop overlooking the 18th and 11 other holes on the course.
The clubhouse is spacious and pleasant and offers its own range of wines as well as regional specialty “Morgado” desserts – made from figs, sweetened egg yolks and almonds.
As one of the newest courses in the Western Algarve, it has done an excellent job of maintaining the region’s traditional culture and warm hospitality that heighten the visiting golfer’s experience.
Western Algarve Fact-file
WHERE TO PLAY
Parque de Floresta Golf Resort
Onyria Palmares Golf
Le Meridien Penina Golf and Hotel