Written by: Libor Ševčík
Photo by: Erpet centrum
Except for southern Spain or Portugal, the rest of the continent is frigidly unfriendly to golfers. Heading right to the Pyrenean peninsula is one relatively easy solution in terms of time and money.
ONE SOUGHT-OUT destination is Portugal, mainly the Algarve area, in the southernmost part of the country. Golf has become good business for the locals, because it brings in people who are drawn not only by beaches and ordinary tourism. So extraordinary attention is paid to course development. Most courses are open to the public, and you can also rent clubs and carts. There are courses for true beginners and masters alike.
The first course, Castro Marim, close to the border river Guadiana, is the gateway from the east. This eighteen-hole, par 72 course offers lovely views of the ocean, among other things. The new eighteen-hole Quinta do Rio, which belongs to the Dom Pedro hotel complex, is the next course to the west. Not far from Cabanas is another eighteen-hole course, Benamor. Its eighteenth hole, a real beauty because of its difficulty, deserves special attention. As you traverse Faro, the provincial capital, you’ll come to the Pinheiros Altos course, with two different nine-hole parts. The first lies in undulating countryside, and the second in sandy dunes with many water hazards along the coast. Not far away is a golfer’s paradise, Quinta do Lago, with 36 holes comprising Lago Course and Ria Formosa. 18-hole San Lorenzo is within sight. Both complexes are parts of the Rio Formosa nature preserve.
Next to the village of Almacil there is another great attraction – the 36-hole Vale do Lobo course. On the sixteenth hole, if you can’t drive at least 205 meters across an ocean gulf, your ball is lost. In Vilamoure, just 25 kilometers from Faro, there is a complex of courses – Milenium, Laguna, The Old Course (1969), and Pinhal. Two kilometers farther on is the 27-hole Vila Sol complex. Another eight kilometers along there is the rocky 9-hole Sheraton Pine Cliffs course. The 9-hole Balaia course is for beginners and pensioners, while the 6-kilometer long, 18 hole Salgados course is tough even on professionals. Two other 18-hole courses, Pinta and Gramacho, are near the village of Carvoeiro. Right across the road is the pleasant, relaxing 9-hole Vale de Milho, where all you need are three clubs. The 16th hole at Alto Golf is Europe’s longest par 5. Neighboring Penina is a championship 18-hole course that hosts the Portuguese Open. There is a lovely view to the end of Europe from the Palmares clubhouse, and right across the road are two new 18-hole courses, Boavista and Floresta. To the west there is only the ocean and America.
The author is the editor of Hospodářské noviny’s IN magazine.
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Your favorite golf course?
“I’m an occasional player, not a person who chases handicaps. With golf I look for a good time and good friends in flight. That’s why I most like going to play at Konopiště, where the atmosphere is ideal, and I get the feeling that the people there are interested in how you feel. There isn’t any arrogance there like at courses that were built in the Czech environment earlier, and which benefitted from their monopolistic positions. The resort’s efforts to improve further can be seen, and every time I notice some work, both on new courses and on the infrastructure. Konopiště also has further potential for such modifications. During my occasional visits, the existence of two 18-hole courses is an advantage, as a tee time can usually be obtained at the last moment. I don’t like driving a long way from Prague for golf, that’s why I play there the most frequently. And I tolerate a few shortcomings because of these advantages.”
Digital score card
Sprint Sport, Husinecká 15, Praha 3, tel.: 222 510 492, www.shopgolf.cz