Portugal welcomes millions tourists every year with many simply looking to enjoy the lovely climate, the beaches, the seafood and the culture.
However more and more people are looking at Portugal as a golfing destination too because of the superb selection of golf courses and resorts that have emerged over the last 40 years.
Here we have taken a look at some of the best.
Estoril Golf Club
The Estoril Golf Club is located only 25 minutes away from Lisbon and 3 minutes from the centre of Estoril, featuring restaurants, hotels, a casino and a beach.
It is one of the oldest clubs in Portugal and has hosted two of the country’s biggest events, the Portuguese Open and the Portuguese International Championship Amateur.
A long list of famous golfers have played on the Estoril Golf Course, including Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance, Gene Sarazen, Peter Allis and Bernard Gallacher.
Overlooking Estoril and the sea, the course is set amongst pines, eucalyptus and mimosa trees, giving a uniquely colourful touch that demands focus, often forcing players to concentrate on accuracy rather than distance.
Quinta Da Marinha Golf Club
Quinta Da Marinha Golf Club offers golfers challenges amidst the natural beauty of a variety of landscapes. This near 6400-yard course takes players past calm lakes and pine woods, with breath-taking views of the hills on one side and the ocean on the other.
The course features many of Robert Trent Jones’ hallmark characteristics including elevated greens & tees, as well as a number of testing bunkers and carefully placed water hazards. With every hole being different, it provides golfers with a tough test.
The Club has previously hosted the Ladies Masters in 1988, the PGA Seniors Tour Championship in 2002, and a Challenge Tour event in 2007.
Lisbon Sports Club
Lisbon Sports Club was founded in 1922, with the 18-hole layout set in some of the most picturesque and beautiful areas of Lisbon.
When playing the course, the natural beauty and landscape will immediately strike you, as all holes are bordered by many different species of trees and bushes.
There is no development whatsoever on the golf course, so it is the perfect place to relax away from the day-to-day stress of city life.
The Eastern part of Portugal’s southernmost tip houses arguably the Algarve’s finest layout and one seen by many as the best in Europe: Monte Rei. Set in the hills above Taviria, its a real treat for the sense.
Designed by Jack Nucklaus, the rolling landscape provides the perfect setting for a scenic golf course, with numerous lakes and superb bunkering enhancing the visual appeal.
The conditioning is first rate, risk-reward holes are common place, and therse are also five par-5s and five par-3s enhancing the intrigue. It’s a fantastic layout that more than justifies its reputation.
About a 40-minute drive from Lisbon you will find Troia which is one of the country’s most loved layouts.
Set on an amazing spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sado Estuary, Troia was designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior and it is a relative veteran in terms of Portuguese courses having opened in 1980.
It is a layout that truly does make use of its natural surroundings, winding through sand dunes and pine trees, past an amazing array of wild plants.
Designed by Cynthia Dye – Pete Dye’s niece – this links layout is managed by the Praia D’El Rey resort and sits just a ten-minute drive north of its sister course.
Measuring 7,003 yards from the tips, the course undulates through rolling sand dunes, natural vegetation and pine groves, so errant drives will more than likely result in a reload.
West Cliffs is littered with highlights and constantly delivers yet another beautiful vista, so even if you’re having a bad day there’s still much to enjoy out on the course.
Oitavos Dunes is the work of American Arthur Hills. Set over natural sand dunes you could be forgiven for thinking you were playing golf in its most natural form on any of the great Scottish links.
The views out to the mountains are simply breathtaking but you’ll need a game in good form to counter the course’s main defence – the testing tiered greens.
Quinta do Lago (North, South and Laranjal)
The South course is rightly heralded as Quinta do Lago’s signature track and it can be played and enjoyed by all levels of golfers. Using the hilly terrain to get effect, the course has a number of dog legs so shot shaping is a must if you want to score well.
The North Course, positioned next door, is somewhat tamer and touring parties would be advised to play here before tackling the senior South layout. It is shorter at 6,500 yards and with five par 5s, there is the opportunity to get some birdies on the card.
The stunning Laranjal course at the resort also opened in 2008.
One of the newest and very best tracks on the Algarve, is the Oceanico Faldo Course Amendoeira. Designed by the six-time Major champion and opened in 2008 the course is set over superb golfing terrain.
Faldo’s vision was to use traditional principles to create a modern classic.
With brilliant placed hazard and clear questions asked by each characterful hole, he has succeeded in his mission.
After Robert Trent Jones Junior came in to redesign the original 18-hole course, the new 27-hole layout serves up a procession of stunning vistas over the Bay of Lagos from up and above the hilly terrain.
The three nines – Alvor, Lagos and Praia – offer a mixture of parkland and links golf with the Praia the pick of the three.
The Alvor stands out due to its fiendishly contoured greens, while the Lagos nine has a parkland ambience mixed in with some towering duneland.
Ribagolfe I was designed by Peter Townsend and can stretch to a formidable 7,370 yards off the tips, though plentiful tees make it playable for all.
The course plays over beautiful undulating terrain, with multiple cork trees and the odd water hazard to negotiate. On the 14th you’ll need to know how far you hit it before deciding how much of the water to take on.
Vale do Lobo
Originally a 27-hole complex based on designs by Henry Cotton, it was substantially upgraded over 20 years ago by American architect Rocky Roquemore. The result is two fine sets of 18 holes, the Royal and the Ocean.
The former is a par-72 which features one of the most photographed holes in the country, the cliff-top par-3 16th.
The Ocean is similar in style and both courses run through some impressive properties.
Vilamoura Dom Pedro Old Course
Among more frequent visitors to the Algarve, it is the Old course at Vilamoura that often comes away with the highest praise. Opened in 1969 and since renovated, it meanders throughout impressive pine trees over more gentle terrain.
Praia D’El Rey
This is a fine mix of linksy, seaside golf and holes that are a little more parkland in nature. There are some great sea views and the wind can make life interesting.
One of the most highly-rated courses in the region, quite close to Faro, is the very different and demanding San Lorenzo. It was built alongside the mouth of the River Formosa and runs over swamp land that is home to a fabulous array of birdlife.
With elements of beach, sea, river and marsh, many golfers consider it to be the most exciting layout in the Algarve. There is also a wonderful sting in the tail at the two, watery closing holes.
Penha Longa (Atlantic)
Penha Longa’s Atlantic course has a design and character that make it one of the most recognisable layouts in Portugal.
@ Golf Monthly