My Favourite 5 – The Best Courses in Sunny Portugal

Sending people on their dream golf holiday is always an enjoyable experience. From the excitement of booking to the satisfaction of hearing about the trip when our clients return, it’s a rewarding process for the Green Golf Travel Team.

Having said this, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel a tinge of jealousy as our clients make tracks for golf at some of the finest courses in the world. For this reason and to ensure we know exactly what we are selling, we make sure that we visit as many courses as possible in our most popular destinations.

For Irish golfers travelling abroad, Portugal has been a favourite destination for many years. I have travelled to different parts of Portugal more times than I can remember and here are my top 5 courses in this fantastic golf country:

5) San Lorenzo

Located in the Quinta Do Lago area, San Lorenzo is one of the most traditional and famous courses in the Algarve. At 30 years old, San Lorenzo is ancient in Algarve terms and the maturity of the course can be felt throughout.

Having played here a number of times, each visit opens up a new experience as there are no holes that are forgettable. Pine woodland frames the manicured fairways and strategy is required throughout. The views of the Ria Formosa estuary and salt water lagoons are breathtaking throughout and this really is a memorable course.

For mid handicap golfers like me, San Lorenzo is absolutely playable which is part of why I enjoyed it so much. An easy choice for my top 5 and a must visit when you travel to the Algarve.

Tip:  Play early as rounds can be a little slow here.

How to play here: You must stay at Formosa Park or Dona Filipa to get a green fee here.

Sample Package: 3 Nights B&B at Formosa Park and 2 Rounds (1 x San Lorenzo and 1 x Pinheiros Altos) – From €195 per person (Low Season).  

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San Lorenzo 18th

4) Vale Do Lobo Royal

With two courses of championship standard in the Royal and Ocean, members at Vale Do Lobo are spoilt for choice. Opinions on which course is superior are divided but having played both, I would have to side with the Royal Course, only just!

Weaving its way between the beautiful villas of the resort, the course has a number of memorable holes. From the almost island green to the Par 5 11th with water guarding anything to the left as you approach.

There can be no doubt about the most memorable hole here though. The 16th is a Par 3 played across the cliffs with spectacular views of the beach and ocean. This hole is one of the most photographed in golf and just about gives the Royal Course the edge over the wonderful Ocean course.

Tip:  Take your tee shot on 16 before taking images. The tee shot becomes more daunting the longer you look at it!

How to play here: Visitors are welcome here so add a round here to any Vilamoura package.

Sample Package: 3 Nights B&B at Vila Gale Marina and 2 Rounds (1 x Millennium and 1 x Vale Do Lobo Royal) – From €299 per person (Low Season)

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Royal Course at Vale Do Lobo

Vale Do Lobo Royal 16th

3) The Old Course Vilamoura

For an average club golfer like me, the monster courses that require 300 yard drives to be playable are often endured rather than enjoyed. This is not the case at the Old Course.

Carving its way among the pine trees, this course requires accuracy throughout. The undulating fairways provide varied approach shots throughout and the course is always maintained to the highest standard.

A Par 73 at under 7,000 yards off the back tees is certainly not a monster but planning, strategy and golf intelligence are required on every shot. This course is one of the most in demand in Portugal and we can easily see why. Just make sure to book well in advance as tee times here in the peak season are as rare as hens teeth!

Tip:  Leave the driver in the bag. This course is all about accuracy and strategy.

How to play here: Add to any Vilamoura Tour

Sample Package: 3 Nights B&B at Vila Gale Marina and 2 Rounds (1 x Millennium and 1 x Vilamoura Old) – From €349 per person (Low Season)

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Old Course Vilamoura

2) Praia Del Rey

Located just over an hour North of Lisbon airport, Praia Del Rey is a little off the beaten path in Portugal. For this discerning golfer looking for an alternative golfing experience, this is definitely an excellent option.

The variations at Praia Del Rey are spectacular. Having grown up playing the links courses in Donegal, my bar for a links style challenge is high. Praia Del Rey more than exceeds these expectations. A number of holes run right along the coastline and make use of the natural dunes beautifully.

There are natural water hazards dotted throughout the inland holes and the fairways and greens are always beautifully manicured. Add to this the excellent facilities and warm welcome as well as less than overcrowded fairways, and it is easy to see why Praia Del Rey is up there among the best in Portugal.

Tip: Play with a member if possible. This is a course with few straightforward holes and local knowledge can go a long way.

How to play here: Stay at the magnificent Praia Del Rey hotel or for a smaller budget, the apartments at Praia del Rey are an excellent option.

Sample Package: 4 Nights at PDR Self-catering apartments + 3 Rounds (Praia Del Rey & West Cliffs) – €259 per person based on 4 golfers sharing.

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Praia Del Rey

1)Monte Rei

A one off. An unrivalled golfing experience. A day that will live long in the memory. These are just a few of the thoughts I had driving out the gate after a day at Monte Rei.

Booking a round at the best course in the Algarve is more than a game it is an overall experience. The course boasts 6 professionals, Titleist NXT range balls and you play from manicured turf. Throughout your practice you will be aware of a Monte Rei team member on hand at all times to meet any request you may have. By the time you are prompted to make your way to the first, you will be prepared and excited to see for yourself what this renowned course has in store.

Club House Monte Rei

Monte Rei Clubhouse

The landscape around Monte Rei has lent itself to some spectacular holes. The 11th tee sees you hit a long iron across what seems like a canyon. The ‘native areas’ as they are known locally surround you and are classed as water hazards. Other holes see water hazards at the bottom of the valley as you hit from an elevated fairway. Pristine white bunkers frame the greens and each hole has its own unique character.

The course is set up to championship standard every day with greens running at an average of 10.5. Small touches such as the white paint inside the rim of the cup add to that feeling of being somewhere a little bit special.

This place is the unrivalled best I have ever played in Portugal and it would be great to take you there with Green Golf Travel.

Tip: Arrive early to take advantage of the whole experience and stay in this wonderful club as long as possible.

How to play here: Add a final round at Monte Rei as the final round on your Vilamoura tour.

Sample Package: 3 Nights B&B at Vila Gale Marina and 2 Rounds (1 x Millennium and 1 x Monte Rei – Buggy Included) – From €399 per person (Low Season).

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The Perilous 11th Tee at Monte Rei

The Perilous 11th Tee at Monte Rei

To book your links golf getaway in Ireland contact green golf travel today on +353 74 91 16660 or email info@greengolftravel.com

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