The Top 10 Golf Courses and Golf Resorts in the Algarve, Portugal
Wanting to know what the best golf courses are in the Algarve is not a surprise. What is a surprise is that golfing only came to the Portugal’s Algarve in the 1960s. Sir Henry Cotton (the three time Open Champion) introduced the sport to the region and he was obviously something of a visionary, because since then the sport has exploded. The Algarve has rapidly grown to become one of the foremost golfing destinations in Europe, attracting both professional and amateur golfers from around the world. There are now more than forty courses and over thirty different clubs, and with more being planned, the expansion is set to continue.
One of the contributing factors to the success of golf in the Algarve is the excellent weather. With over 300 days of sunshine per year there is no shortage of clear skies over the fairways in Southern Portugal. The second factor is the superb facilities at the golf courses and resorts that stretch along the beautiful coastline. Immaculately kept greens, stunning scenery and luxury accommodation keep people coming back year after year.
Here are some of the courses that are widely held to be the best in the region:
1. Le Meridien Panina
Sir Henry Cotton famously created the Panina eighteen-hole Championship course. He transformed the area near Portimao in 1966 to make the first course in the region, and one that is still as popular as it is famous today.
2. Monte Rei
Designed by Nick Faldo, the Monte Rei is a Par 72 Championship course. With water features on eleven of the eighteen holes, this is a course that will provide plenty of challenges for even the most able player. Not only that, but each hole is superbly designed with a real attention for detail.
3. Oceanico – Faldo
Another Nick Faldo course, this one is on an English design but with a twist. With its limestone outcrops and cacti it has a definite desert feel to it. It also has a very hilly back nine.
4. Oceanico – The Old
Lovingly maintained, this meandering course is full of character; but the charm does not stop it being challenging. Don’t let the beautiful views distract you too much; you will need to concentrate to get a good score.
5. Oceanico – The Victoria
This rolling and expansive course staged the 2005 WGC World Cup of Golf and continues to be one of the most highly rated golf courses in the area. The broad, open design to the fairways do not have the same scenery that other local courses boast, but it is still a very pleasant setting and kept in superb condition.
6. Quinta de Cima
Sister course to Quinta da Ria this impressive Championship course boasts wide fairways over gently undulating ground. The whole course is exceptional but the last nine holes are particularly favoured.
7. Quinta do Lago (South)
Another expansive golf course that is kept in immaculate condition, Quinta do Lago is another to add to the ‘must play’ list; especially if you are a big hitter and like to follow a gentle swell of open fairways.
8. Quinta da Ria
Quinta da Ria is rated among the Top 10 courses in the whole of Portugal so these are eighteen holes that are not to be missed. Not only are there plenty of interesting hazards to negotiate but the Par 72 course also has the stunning Ria Formosa National Park as the situation, making it one of the most picturesque courses you will play.
9. San Lorenzo
Frequently voted into the Top 10 of courses in Europe this is a course that you cannot afford to miss. Stunning scenery and challenging holes make the perfect combination; a golf course of superlative quality.
10. Vale do Labo
Vale do Labo is actually has two courses, the Royal and the Ocean, both designed by Sir Henry Cotton, and each worthy of a place on this list. The striking combination of the mountains and coast as a backdrop means that this is another beautiful course to play. The 16th hole, nestled among the cliff on the Royal, is the most photographed in Europe, so take your camera as well as your golf clubs.