So why is Algarve Golf so popular?
For me it is easy to understand why the Algarve attracts so many golfers every year. The outstanding choice of quality golf courses along the Atlantic Coast combined with golf friendly weather all year round, make the southern coast of Portugal the ideal golf destination. Most courses are within 35 minutes transfer time from the popular towns of Vilamoura, Albufeira and Carvoeiro. It is only when you choose to play the courses in the East Algarve, close to the Spainsh Border or those in the far west of the Algarve that you will exceed these travelling times. Well worth the effort, when you consider the low green fees for courses such as Quinta do Vale, Benamor and Castro Marim and the scenic courses of Quinta da Cima and Quinta da Ria in the east. Courses such as Parque da Floresta, Boavista, Palmares, Morgado and Alamos make a trip to the West a must with green fees under € 60.00 per round in high season. But for me what makes golf in the Algarve so unique is the fact that it offers golf courses to suit every type of player.
If you are one of those players trying to find out what type of golf course the touring professional has to face each week, you do not have to go far. A superb choice of championship courses awaits. The Portugal Masters (14th -17th October 2010) is played at Victoria Golf course Vilamoura, each year. The Penina Championship course used to host the Portuguese open. Several more championship courses have been opened in recent years with the Faldo and O'Connor courses only 20 minutes from Albufeira. Or the Jack Nicklaus'designed Monte Rei golf course near Tavira. An absolute gem of a course but also the most expensive in all of the Algarve. Don't forget to add Quinta da Cima to the list, host to several senior PGA and LPGA tour events. One course in particular seems to rank highly in surveys trying to find the best courses in the world, let alone Europe. San Lorenzo, close to Almancil and close to Faro airport, is rated among the top 10 courses in Europe. If you include accommodation at either Formosa Park or the Dona Filipa hotel you be amazed how reasonable the prices are, to play this wonderful golf course. One bit of advise when you are playing these championship courses is to play from the yellow tees. It more often than not will leave you with a formidable approach shot to the green. The wind in the Algarve is a big factor as all the courses are close to the Atlantic coast and it can change the easiest looking hole into a real challenge. In particular the wide open spaces at the Faldo and O'Connor courses will make it a very though test of golf.
The most favoured itineraries are the courses around Vilamoura and Almancil. It means a short trip from Faro airport to your accommodation and a superb choice of courses. Vale do Lobo offers the Royal and Ocean courses, Quinta da Lago the South and North courses, the newly opened Laranjal course, Pinheiros Altos and Vila Sol can all be found close to Quarteira and Almancil. A fabulous selection of golf courses that are all in the mid price range but do offer some great green fees during the low season. Low season is when the weather in the Algarve is wetter ( December and January) or hotter ( June , July and August). Very close to the town of Vilamoura with its popular Marina area full of bars and restaurants, will you find the golf courses of Laguna, Pinhal, Millennium, the Old Course and Victoria. With Laguna being the least expensive. Laguna, Pinhal and Victoria are next door to each other and the terrain is similar for all three courses. Pinhal and the Old Course have more tree lined fairways. Each of them are in superb condition although some players are waiting for Laguna to produce the standard of greens they have come to expect after the course was closed for many months.
Not far from Albufeira towards the west you find the popular town of Carvoeiro. It offers a great choice of Algarve accommodation and several in demand golf courses. Mostly Gramacho and Vale da Pinta but also Alto GC are on the must play list of many golfers. Close by you find the historic town of Silves and its very quickly maturing Silves golf course.
It could be that on the day of your arrival you do have enough time to play a warm up round. If you do have time consider palying Sheraton Pine Cliffs. A shorter course build along the cliffs of Falesia beach offering spectacular views. Play the par 3 6th hole from the white tees. All carry over 190 yards of cliffs! Spectacular scenery and a great golf hole
The correct dress code is observed throughout the Algarve and polo shirts and proper golf shoes and socks are required. Shorts are fine as long as they do not resemble anything close to swimwear. Players are required to be at the tee ten minutes before play and marshalls do check that everyone is keeping up with play. The expected time for a fourball to play 18 holes is 4 hrs and 30 minutes.
PlayBetterGolf has negotiated some special discounted green fees for all of these Algarve courses and the greatest savings can be made by booking in advance. But what about the non golfers ? If the Mediterannean weather is not all you are looking for, PlayBetterGolf have arranged some great fun excursions.