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Alto Golf Course

Alvor, home to breathtaking white sand beaches, a blue sea clear beyond compare, and spectacular cliffs, is also home to the Alto Golf Course—the last golf course by Sir Henry Cotton, the legendary three-time winner of the British Open. Upon his passing, the Alto Golf Course project was continued by the golf journalist, Peter Dobereiner. For its backdrop, the course has the beautiful Monchique mountains.

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Adding to its beauty are two valleys, fairways, and greens that gently wind and undulate. In the first nine holes, the players are treated to a breathtaking view overlooking Lagos Bay.

In the last 9 holes (which face inland) is the famed hole number 16, nicknamed the “Giant,” which is probably the longest hole in all of Europe. For all of its 604 metres, it is a Par 5 challenge. It is so challenging, that anyone who can do 5 strokes or under for this is given a certificate and his or her name is added to Alto Golf Course’s roll of honour. For a golf course designed by two major greats, packed with challenges and decorated by amazing scenery, this is a golf course one just cannot afford to miss.

If making a pilgrimage to the golf capital Algarve, the Alto Golf Course should be among the top of one’s list. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Practice Bunker, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Resident Professional Course Details Location: Alvor, Portimao, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Henry Cotton Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 6,699

Length: 6,215m Pestana Gramacho Golf Course Course Information and Presentation Almond groves, olive trees, fig trees, pine trees, and Carob trees all decorate the landscape of Pestana Gramacho Golf Course, a rolling 6,107 meters of golf challenges. Pestana Gramacho is an eighteen-hole wonder, with nine holes added in June 2002. Designed by Ronald Fream, it is situated in the midst of the golf capital of Algarve. Pestana Gramacho is a member of the Carvoeiro Club, which is a fishing village 60 kilometres from the Faro Airport.

This means that if one aims to finish a game in the Gramacho, at least an hour and a half of travel allowance should be observed if one is to catch a flight elsewhere after a game. Pestana Gramacho Golf Course is a very challenging course and one would need to negotiate the dense vegetation during a game. A deft drive to the fairway’s right would be needed in hole number 2, which, at par 5, requires a ball dodge to the tall pine trees. Hole number 6 is much of a challenge too, because a drive to the tee over a body of water at par 3 is needed.

A real challenge, the Pestana Gramacho Golf Course is a par 72 course off the back tees, reminiscent of the St. Andrews double greens. It has 18 large double greens, making it an unparalleled experience for even the veteran golfer. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Basketball Court, Bunker Practice Area, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Football Field, Golf Academy, Golf Shop, Lawn Bowling Green, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Tennis Court Course Details Location: Quinta do Gramacho, Lagoa, Algarve Course Type: Resort Architect/Designer: Ronald Fream

Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 9 Par: 36 Yards: 6,473 Length: 2,980m Vale do Milho Golf Course Course Information and Presentation The Vale do Milho Golf Course is perfect for those wanting a short game but don’t want to compromise on the challenges golfer might face: it is only 970 meters, but is packed with challenges that would test even golfing champions. Designed by David Thomas, this 9-hole course is located two kilometres from the coastal village of Carvoeiro. This golf course is great for practising one’s short irons.

What it has is a good number of bunkers, and even water hazards, to keep a golfer challenged all throughout the golf course’s 970 metres. The Vale do Milho is not just a challenging course; it also features breathtaking spots such as waterfalls, and a wonderful view of the sea. With views and spots to relax and just breathe nature in, a golfer would be treated to a truly delightful time on the green in Vale do Milho. A trivia: David Thomas is also the designer of the Brabazon Course. It is located at The Belfry, just near Birmingham, England.

The Brabazon Course had enjoyed the honour of playing host to the Ryder Cup, for three times at that, in 1985, 1989, and 1993. This is the world’s most prestigious golf tournament, a biennial convergence of American and European golfing teams. With designing credentials like David Thomas’s, and its own natural charm, the Vale do Milho is a golf course worth taking a trip to. Course Facilities Bunker Practice Area, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Golf Academy with Computer and Video Swing Analyser, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Snack Bar, Snooker Room Course Details Location: Praia do Carvoeiro, Lagoa, Algarve

Course Type: Resort Architect/Designer: David Thomas Required Handicap: None Men’s Handicap: None Women’s Handicap: None Holes: 9 Par: 27 Yards: 1,012 Length: 926m Balaia Golf Course Course Information and Presentation Located within the confines of Balaia Golf Village (a resort and holiday establishment) between Albufeira and Vilamoura, the Balaia Golf Course caters to golfers of all ages and ranges of skill. Dubbed as the “Executive Course”, the Balaia Golf Course’s title indicates the high quality of its layout, with subtle changes that present great challenges for gofers of all handicaps.

The Balaia Golf Course opened as a 9-hole course in 2001, its compact layout designed to challenge the golfer’s precision and shot length control—the course boosts the demands of a game and golfers are expected improve their iron shots and short games as a result. With subtle changes in the terrain and holes ranging from 58 to 160 meters, the ability to hit precise shots and deliver accurate puts are the secrets to scoring well on any game. The course is lovely to behold with its wooden bridges, lakes, manicured greenery, and elegant clubhouse serving as a backdrop.

Located within a resort village, the Balaia Golf Course arguably has one of the most extensive amenities among the courses in the Algarve. A weekly 9-hole friendly tournament, the Stableford Tournament, is also open to all golfers every Wednesday. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Beach Resort, Beauty Parlour, Bunkers, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Gift Shop, Golf Academy, Hairdresser, Health Club, Hotel, Indoor and Outdoor Swimming Pools, Medical Clinic, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Pitching Green, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Resident Professionals, Souvenir Shop and Tobacconist, Supermarket, Tennis Courts Course Details

Location: Balaia Golf Village, Albufeira, Algarve Course Type: Resort Architect/Designer: South Golf Required Handicap: Handicap Certificate Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 9 Par: 27 Yards: 1,076 Length: 984m Pine Cliffs Golf Course Course Information and Presentation The spectacular cliffs of Algarve, a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean, a 9-hole golf course with the 9th hole affectionately called the “Devil’s Parlour”—all these are elements of the Pine Cliffs Golf Course, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Sheraton Algarve Hotel. The Pine Cliffs was built in a pine woodland edging the cliffs of Algarve.

It was opened in 1990, and was designed by Martin Hawtree, from Hawtree & Son of England (also the designers of the Cerregueira course). The “Devil’s Parlour” is a hole located over a cliff with a 200-foot drop. Its Par 3 ninth is the signature hole, as it is 140 metres over the deep chasm. Par 4 is no less challenging, because the golfer’s drive must go through a narrow gap between pine trees. But what makes Pine Cliffs a golf course worth going on a “pilgrimage” for is the challenge it poses to its players: nine holes, 2274 metres in length, and the famed 9th hole—the one over the ravine.

Add to that the tempting beaches of Algarve and the fact that the Sheraton Algarve Hotel is a 5-star hotel. With all these amenities and features, a golfer would not want to miss playing this amazing Algarve golf course. Another “attraction” to the Pine Cliffs golf course is that its president is the British Formula One motor racing star Nigel Mansell. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Hotel, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Private Beach, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Swimming Pool, Tennis Court Course Details

Location: Pinhal do Concelho, Albufeira, Algarve Course Type: Links Course Category: Links Architect/Designer: Martin Hawtree Required Handicap: None Men’s Handicap: None Women’s Handicap: None Holes: 18 Par: 33 Yards: 6,690 Length: 2,274m Vilamoura Old Course Course Information and Presentation Vilamoura Old Course is a Frank Pennink masterpiece. One of the most popular on the Algarve, it is set on property that features a luxuriously green landscape, with tree-lined fairways that make it a challenge for golfers. Situated in the outskirts of Vilamoura, it is nestled close to Algarve’s breathtaking beaches.

The Old Course (Vilamoura l) was inaugurated in 1969, and then renovated in 1996. The Vilamoura Golf Courses, which feature three separate layouts, are part of the places-to-be in terms of where to golf in Europe. It had played host to the 1979 Portuguese Open, in which Brian Barnes won. The fairways had been renovated in 1997. Pine trees run through the verdant and lush fairways, and these add challenge to the game. The course starts with easy Par 4 holes. This would be a breeze for those who keep their golf balls on the fairway, as the green of the Par 4 holes can be reached with a deft drive.

The highlights of the golf course include the highly challenging Par 3 holes, which would stretch a player’s skill, for the player has to have great control over the ball, and his irons selected carefully. The trees make the game more challenging and the greens are small, making little room for error on the player’s part. The behind-the-scenes are to be credited for the excellence of the Vilamoura Golf Courses: the excellent irrigation system keeps the green healthy, while the excellent staff is attentive to the golfers’ needs.

It is no surprise, then, that the Vilamoura Golf Course is one of the most favoured golfing destinations among all the other golf courses in Europe. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Driving Range, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Pro Shop, Putting Green Course Details Location: Vilamoura, Quarteira, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Frank Pennink Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 73 Yards: 6,970 Length: 6,254m Vilamoura Victoria Golf Course

Course Information and Presentation Designed by renowned architect, Arnold Palmer, the Victoria Golf Course is considered one of Europe’s best, and is comparable to the creme de la creme of golf courses such as Oitavos. It one the latest golf courses to have opened in the Vilamoura area, it is currently one of the longest 18-hole courses in the whole of Portugal, with holes featuring a minimum of 5 tees for golfers of all handicaps. The Victoria Golf Course’s terrain is virtually flat, with a series of man-made mounds specially designed to mimic the shapes and outlines of inland hills.

This feature gives a feeling of harmonious motion. Bodies of water have been etched on the landscape to serve as an attractive backdrop to the course. Existing wetlands and native vegetation were also carefully preserved. The design of the Victoria Golf Course is one of the most sophisticated in Europe. Not one green among the 18 greens of the course is alike, as its design team created them to have totally different shapes, sizes, and consequently, difficulties. Local knowledge of the course layout and landscape is therefore an advantage.

The 2005 World Golf Championships took place in the Victoria Golf Course—a testament to its excellent quality. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Buggy Bar, Driving Range, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Valet Service Course Details Location: Vilamoura, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Arnold Palmer Required Handicap: Handicap Certificate Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 7,215 Length: 6,560m

Vilamoura Pinhal Golf Course Course Information and Presentation A Frank Pennink masterpiece, the Vilamoura Pinhal Golf Course, also known as Vilamoura 2, is a beautiful course set on a rolling, meandering, countryside. It is lined with umbrella pine, and is more open than the Old Course. The greens are much smaller, however, and would require your shots to be 100 percent accurate. The Pinhal Golf Course is located on the outskirts of Vilamoura. It had to be redesigned by Trent Jones in 1985, due to urban development.

He incorporated both British and American layout concepts in the remodelling of the golf course, thus, the golfer needs to employ different styles of playing to negotiate the layout of the course. The most challenging hole has to be hole 17. For a Par 5 championship tee, it has all of 502 meters, and is a pretty complicated shot, even to veteran golfers. But nonetheless, playing the Pinhal remains an extraordinary experience. One very attractive feature of the Pinhal Golf Course is the fact that it was built in the midst of breathtaking pine woodland.

It also has a spectacular view of the sea, which makes playing on this course an absolutely delightful experience. A trivia: The Pinhal Golf Course was chosen for the use of the 1988 Portuguese Ladies’ Open, a part of the professional European circuit for women. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Chipping Green, Coffee Shop, Driving Range, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Pro Shop, Putting Green Course Details Location: Vilamoura, Quarteira, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Frank Pennick

Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 6,400 Length: 6,300m Vilamoura Laguna Golf Course Course Information and Presentation The Vilamoura Laguna Golf Course (also known as Vilamoura 3), designed by Joseph Lee and William Roquemore, is located on the periphery of Vilamoura, near the breathtaking coastline of the Algarve. The Laguna Golf Course opened its doors in 1990. It sports three nine-hole courses, with ten lakes scattered all throughout the grounds. For the greenery, the designers chose Bermuda grass.

Being close to the sea, the Laguna Golf Course has wet, marshy grounds, which pose a challenge to even the most serious of players. Water is a constant contention, and bunkers have been strategically placed to provide challenge to the players. Precision in the placement of both the tee and the fairway shots are needed, and the greens have to be approached accurately. The course is a Par 72 game in all the 18-hole courses. Water hazards have been scattered all throughout the course, not to mention that the grounds are marshy and near the sea. Care is to be taken with choosing the clubs to use, because of the challenges that dot the course.

While the course is challenge-filled, it is not that long a course, relatively—a golfer can thus play without straining himself too much. Pleasure—sports-wise and aesthetics-wise—await the golfer out for a relaxing time on the green. Every second you spent in the course is a sheer pleasure. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Buggy Bar, Bunker Practice Area, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Golf Shop, Pro Shop, Putting Green Course Details Location: Vilamoura, Quarteira, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Joseph Lee

Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 6,746 Length: 6,133m Vila Sol Golf Course Course Information and Presentation The Vila Sol is in between Vilamoura and the Quinta do Lago. Opened in 1991, it is already one of the main places to go to in terms of golfing in Portugal. The Vila Sol Golf Course, a sprawling course designed by Donald Steel, is home to 27 holes categorized as Prime (holes 1-9), Challenge (10-18), and Prestige (19-27). It operates as three 9-hole loops, and requires accurate shots in its pristinely kept green.

The Vila Sol is wrapped around a massive pine woodland, where fig, oak and almond trees abound. The architectural style used here is that of the British school—this poses a bit of a challenge to the golfer’s strategic skills, especially with the trees, lakes and bunkers dotting through the entire golf course. The most difficult holes on the entire course are always the first four holes. If a golfer wants a low overall score, he better work hard on those four early in the game. The Vila Sol features sceneries of diverse woodlands and a challenging game to boot. Its charm partly lies in its great variety of trees.

What makes it the ultimate in golfing experience however, is the fact that it is home to excellent and well-kept facilities. In the years 1992 and 1993, it was selected for the Portuguese Open, which sealed its international acclaim. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Beach Club, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Pro Shop, Putting Greens, Sauna, Tennis Court, Tennis Court, Turkish Bath Course Details Location: Vilamoura, Quarteira, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Donald Steele

Required Handicap: Handicap Certificate Men’s Handicap: 27 Women’s Handicap: 35 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 6,762 Length: 6,242m Vale do Lobo Ocean Golf Course Course Information and Presentation Vale do Lobo Ocean Golf Course, situated east of Vilamoura, is one of the most famous courses in Europe, with its 16th hole (which features a tee over two ravines) being arguably the most photographed hole in the world. The hole plays to a green located over a deep ravine in the cliffs. As one of the oldest golf courses in the province, it has placed the Algarve on the map as one of the best golfing destinations in the world.

It opened in 1966 and served as a venue for the Portugal Ladies Open (part of the WPG European Tour) in 1987, as well as the Portuguese Open in 2003. Much of the Vale do Lobo Ocean Golf Course is situated near the Atlantic sea, which serves as a breathtaking backdrop for golf games. Winding through thick pine forests before getting to the Ocean holes, the winds passing through the Vale do Lobo Ocean Golf Course is challenge to even the most experienced golfer. With narrow fairways, precision and accuracy are important for a getting a good score.

Olive, pine, orange, and eucalyptus trees abound, creating excellent and challenging training conditions. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Beach, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Practice Balls, Practice Green, Practice Net, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Swimming Pool, Tennis Court Course Details Location: Vale do Lobo, Almancil, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship Architect/Designer: Sir Henry Cotton Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 5,799

Length: 5,495m Pinheiros Altos Golf Course Course Information and Presentation The Pinheiros Altos Golf Course is located eighteen kilometres east of Vilamoura in Quinta do Lago. Designed by American architect Ronald Fream and opened in June of 1992, this over 6-kilometer long golf course is the site of professional golfer pilgrimage before tournament seasons begin. The point of seduction is the spacious practice ground that includes three putting greens, bunker areas, and chip shots, along with several other greens. There are also comprehensive golfing programmes for golfers of all skill levels.

Included in these programmes are video analyses of golfers’ swings. The Pinheiros Altos is so constructed that the first nine holes are built on sandy, hilly ground lined with umbrella pine trees, while the back nine are on level ground peppered with lakes that translate into water hazards, and even sticky sand traps that challenge even the most skilled of players. What makes the Pinheiros Altos Golf Course extraordinary is not just the fact that it is an avenue for golfers to practice; what is more alluring about it is that it is just beside the Natural Park of Ria Formosa, home to a diverse array of bird species, and intriguing flora.

Beyond the exotic charm of the nature park beside it and its use as a practice ground, the excellent upkeep of the Pinheiros Altos is what makes it a golfing destination worth going to, especially for the most devoted of golfers. Course Facilities Bar and Restaurant, Buggies, Bunker Practice Area, Caddy, Chipping Green, Club Fitting Centre, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Trolleys Course Details Location: Quinta do Lago, Almancil, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship

Architect/Designer: Ronald Fream Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 6,615 Length: 6,049m Quinta do Lago North Golf Course (formerly Ria Formosa) Course Information and Presentation Located in heart of town, the Quinta do Lago North Course is considered to have the best finishing holes in the Algarve. The course provides an excellent test of ability for players of all handicap levels. Its terrain—with sandy soil, dense umbrella pine forests, and various vegetations—offers very different challenges.

Three architects designed it: William Mitchell designed holes 1-5 and 15-18, while Joseph Lee and Rocky Roquemore designed holes 6-14. Accuracy and the right selection of golf club is an important aspect of winning a game. The course features four par 5 holes that require hard and solid drives, as well as great accuracy, to play well and get good scores. The Par 4 holes are mostly doglegs, with the exception of the 10th and 13th holes. The ability to negotiate winds plays a big part when playing in the par 3 holes.

The lakes on the 13th and 18th holes pose as daunting obstacles and have claimed many balls. The bunkering is top-notch, both on the fairways and the greens, and gives the course an edge over many other courses of similar quality and design. Course Facilities Bars, Boutique, Chipping Green, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Pro Shop, Putting Green, Restaurants, Tennis Court, Trolleys Course Details Location: Quinta do Lago, Almancil, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Championship

Architect/Designer: William Mitchell Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 7,074 Length: 6,205m Sao Lourenco (San Lorenzo) Golf Course Course Information and Presentation The Sao Lourenco is a very celebrated golf course, rated the second best golf course in Europe by the Golf World magazine. It was designed by Joseph Lee and William Roquemore, and is exclusive to Dona Filipa and Penina guests. Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean, the Sao Lourenco boasts a diverse terrain of pine trees, and even lakes and beaches.

What adds more charm to this golf course is the fact that it is beside the Ria Formosa Park in Quinta do Lago. The Ria Formosa is home to exotic flora and fauna, thus, golfers who want to unwind can enjoy nature at its most enticing just a stone’s throw away. The entire course is a challenging Par 72, at 6,238 meters in length. The 5th hole allows the golfer to catch a glimpse of the Ria Formosa, while the 6th and 7th holes flirt with the wetlands. It also has the legendary 8th hole, which requires three absolutely perfect shots to get to the green.

Even the best players of Portugal had trouble negotiating this 8th hole. Course Facilities Bag Drop, Bar and Restaurant, Boutique, Buggies, Bunker Practice Area, Chipping Green, Club Hire, Driving Range, Golf Academy, Golf Clubhouse, Golf Shop, Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms, Practice Balls, Pro Shop, Putting Green Course Details Location: Vale do Lobo, Almancil, Algarve Course Type: Championship Course Category: Links Architect/Designer: Joseph Lee Required Handicap: Certificate preferred Men’s Handicap: 28 Women’s Handicap: 36 Holes: 18 Par: 72 Yards: 6,860 Length: 6,238m