Since I know nothing about golf in Portugal, or anywhere else for that matter, I’ve invited professional golf journalist, Andy Waple, to share his insights into the golfing scene in Portugal over a series of articles.
This one is designed to give you an overview of Portugal as a golfing destination and will be followed by more in depth articles about each specific region – I’ll link to them from here as and when they are published.
Over to Andy…
The Portuguese claim their country is the most sought-after golfing destination in the world and it’s hard to doubt them.
With figures to back up the proud boast and year-on-year increases in the number of tourists flocking to their fairways, all is rosy in a nation that has fewer than 90 courses yet host 1.8 million rounds between them each year.
Anyone who has played golf in Portugal will attest that it is addictive – as soon as you get home you will be planning your next visit.
What makes Portugal golf holidays so appealing?
The country has just about everything you could wish for from a golfer’s perspective – a good number of quality courses in great locations offering something for everybody, from beginners and families to couples and groups.
In many cases, courses are clustered with easy reach of each other, allowing players the opportunity to play a different one almost every day during the course of a holiday.
How did golf in Portugal begin?
The first golf ball was struck in Portugal in 1890 when British port producers formed Oporto Niblicks Club, now known as Oporto Golf Club. However, the sport didn’t become established as a tourist attraction until Sir Henry Cotton set up a course at Penina in the Algarve in 1966.
From then on enthusiasm for playing golf in Portugal has shown no sign of slowing, and clubs and courses are now established all over the country.
Where to find the best golf courses in Portugal
Portugal’s undeniable golfing hotspot is the Algarve with its glorious 150 kilometres of sunny coastline. The region attracts the vast majority of golf tourists and with more than 40 courses it is not hard to see why.
Algarve golf is a joy; there are courses to suit all abilities and prices to match all aspirations and pockets. Off course attractions are many, varied and the weather is the best the country can offer.
While the Algarve enjoys great weather and clusters of courses there is much more of Portugal to explore and there is no reason why golfers cannot indulge their passion for the game while taking in the country’s culture and cuisine in other areas.
The capital, Lisbon, has a well-developed and varied golfing scene with a large number of courses to explore from those overlooking the rolling Atlantic to others amid the peace and calm of the stunning Sintra mountains or the northern Alentejo.
Silver Coast golf
The Silver Coast, situated about one hour’s drive north of Lisbon, has been hitting the golfing headlines since the opening of the formidable West Cliffs course at the famous Praia D’El Rey resort.
Its addition adds to a fine cluster of demanding courses in the area adding to its appeal as a base for a one week golfing holiday.
Golf in Northern Portugal
Further north, Porto and the North region offer a totally different golfing experience. You’ll find golf courses dotted along the coast to the north and south of Porto as well as further inland, amid a greener, rural landscape speckled with ancient farm buildings and manor houses.
Of course this region is also the home of Portugal’s finest wines; the Douro Valley has built on its reputation of being a port wine producing region into the one that makes some of the world’s finest red table wines.
Golf in Madeira and the Azores
Finally, for a total contrast you can head to the volcanic semi-tropical splendour of the Portuguese islands.
Madeira and Porto Santo are the most popular golfing destinations, while the wild ruggedness of the Azores is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Pin for later!
Golf travel journalist Andy Waple struck his first ball in Portugal in the early 1980s at Quinta do Lago and was immediately hooked. He has since travelled the world playing and reviewing some of the finest and far-flung courses and resorts and as a long standing member of the International Golf Travel Writers Association, his work has appeared in many UK based publications. Andy visits Portugal regularly to enjoy the country’s golf, culture and cuisine.
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