If golf is your addiction or even your affliction or if you just like experiencing the inexplicable national disease then the Algarve in the south of Portugal is the place for you.
It is often easy to indulge in the tautology we express when going from a climate such as ours to the grandeur of full constant sun and calm, nevertheless, it is in order to write that the Algarve provides what you expect without doubt.
There are over 30 golf courses of differing degrees of difficulty within relatively short range of one another. all of them are designed to meet the expectations of golfers of all handicaps.
It is generally conceded by golfing enthusiasts and sports organisers in travel agencies that the Algarve tourist chiefs are entitled to boast of their facilities as the premier golfing location in Europe. They have turned a barren land into a most exquisite industry and their aim is to make it into the greatest golfing territory in the world.
And there is another u25m of government money being ploughed into the business. The Irish are pacing the beautiful fairways in large numbers but the main groupings come from Scandinavia, Germany and Britain.
To experience the claims of the Portuguese they invited Travel Extra with a host of journalists and travel agents from Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Britain, Holland, Germany and Spain (As an aside each country was expected to provide a golfing team from the group to compete for the inaugural Algarve Nations Cup competition. And the winners were ,of course, Ireland.
A gala presentation of the cup took place on a moonlit beach where the competitors jealously applauded the Irish team which was: Clem Walsh of Budget Travel, Alan Kelly, manager, National Academy at Carton House; Aidan Dunne, Sunway; Jack Shiels, Dawson Travel and yours truly. Clem and Alan were the glorious standard bearers.
The competition which was incidental to the task of evaluating the courses was held on the glorious championship track which has hosted highly rated international tournaments and will be the scene for the new Portuguese Masters .on Oct. 18 to 21 at Victoria Club de Golfe.
This is a course to be highly recommended. It is truly top of the range with generous fairways and wonderfully large greens.
For the professionals it is a demanding challenge but there are five tees on each hole allowing the challenge for the enthusiastic amateur to be put in context.
It has many memorable holes but none so memorable as the frightening 18th with water all the way down the left (Clem had a drive and a five iron to the centre of the green which won for the Irish)
The course was designed by Arnie Palmer with the usual cute trick of gradually wooing you into the first nine and then to face some horrendous water protected holes on the way home.
You will find the locker room quite interesting in that the individual lockers are named after the great world-class players who have competed there.
You can ask for any locker if available . How about Seve’s for instance.
And if you must take a buggy then at u60 you might find it expensive. Getting there takes about 2 3/4 hours from Dublin airport to Faro. The course is a mere forty minutes or less from there.
To get a complete list of courses in the area I suggest you seek out a copy of Algarve Golf Guide which, I understand is available in many Irish golf club houses.
It would be invidious to give the fees because they vary greatly for different times of the year.
But think Irish charges for buggies, trolleys and club hire and add to them.
Costs are not as cheap as they used be. Nor as popularly expected. The difference is , of course, the guaranteed weather (almost).
Fees can vary from u140 per round downwards and a buggy can cost u60 per round.
But there is more to the Algarve than mere golf. It has terrific hotels, restaurants, beaches adjacent to the courses where families and groups who are non-golfers can relax.
The sea views are magnificent and the Atlantic waters are very inviting not just for the golfer who has double bogied every hole but all sun lovers and swimmers.
The use of a car is highly recommended to visit the various towns and villages and the experience a flavour of the indigenous folk and customs.
Possibly one aspect that might not be appreciated is the enormous amount of building in progress and especially the apparent affection for Ballymena (of old) type of high rise apartments.
One construction site we visited will be of spectacular proportions when completed in the second part of this year.
Its the u75m Hilton Vilamoura which has features like huge Disneyland cascading waters and intricately wired coloured floors aimed to give one the impression they are walking on water.
One feature that will be highly appreciated by families is an all-day play centre for children who will be cared for by qualified staff so daddy and mammy can relax on the golf course.
n Alto Golf Quinta do Alto do Pogo – Alvor, Portimao 282410820 283410836 email@example.com www.altoclub.com
n Balaia Golf Village, Balaia, Albufeira, 289570442 289570470 firstname.lastname@example.org www.balaiagolfvillage.com
n Benamor Golf, Quinta de Benamor, Conceigao de Tavira 281320880 281 320888 reservas@golfbenamorpt www.golfbenamor.com
n Castro Marim Golfe, Sitio de Lavajinho, Castro Marim, 281510330 281531338 email@example.com www.castromarimgolfe.com
n Gramacho Course 282340900 282340901 info@pestanagolf-com www.pestana.com
n Laguna Golf Course, Vilamoura, Loule 289310180 289310183 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vilamoura.net
n Millennium Golf Course Vilamoura, Loule 289310180 289310183 email@example.com www.vilamoura.net
n Palmares Golf, Meia Praia, Lagos 282790500 282790509 firstname.lastname@example.org www.palmaresgolf.com
n Parque de Floresta, Vale de Poco, Budens, Vila du Bispo, 282690954 282695157 email@example.com www.vigiasa.com
n Penina Academy Course 282420200 282420300 s. firstname.lastname@example.org www.lemeridien-penina.com Penina Resort Course 282420200 282420300 s. email@example.com www.lemeridien-penina.com
n Penina Championship Course 282420200 282420300 s. firstname.lastname@example.org www.lemeridien-penina.com
n Pinhal Golf Course, Vilamoura, Loule, 289310390 289310349 email@example.com www.vilamoura.net
n Pinheiros Altos, Quinta do Lago, Loule 289359910 289394392 firstname.lastname@example.org www.pinheirosaltos.com
n Pinta Course Pestana Golf Resort – Carvoeiro, Lagos 282340900 282340901 email@example.com www.pestana.pt
n Quinta da Boavista Atalaia, Lagos 282782151 282782150 firstname.lastname@example.org www.boavistagolf.com
n Quinta do Lago / Sul Quinta do Lago, LouIe 289390700 289394013 email@example.com
n Royal Golf Course, Vale do Lobo, Loule 289353614 289353003 firstname.lastname@example.org www.quintagolf.com
n San Lorenzo Golf Club Quinta do Lago, LouIe 289396522 289396908 san.lorenzo@lemeridien-donafilipa-com www.lemeridien-donafilipa.com
n Sheraton Algarve Pine Cliffs, Praia da Falesia, Albufeira, 289500113 289500117 sheraton.Algarve@starwoodhotels www.pinecliffs.com
n The Old Course Vilamoura, Loule 289310341 289310321 reservas_golf@lusoturpt www.vilamoura.net
n Vale de Milho Golf, Carveiro, Lagoa, 282358502 282358497 email@example.com www.algarvegolf.com
n Vila Sol Alto do Seminom Vilamoura, Loule 289300522 289300592 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vilasol.pt
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