Time to discover less known Portuguese golf courses!

By: June 8, 2019

Early this year, I received a very kind invitation from Carlos Ferreira (owner of Tee Time Golf Agency, Portugal). He invited me to participate in the 1st Tee Times Lisbon Tournament 2019 (29th May – 2nd June).

The timing was perfect as I have already booked a golf holiday in Madeira between 2nd June and 17th June.

In Madeira, I wanted to discover 2 out of the 3 golf clubs of the island:

  • the Cabell B. Robinson-designed Palheiro Golf Club (par-72, 6,656-yard (6,086m), nearly 1,640ft above sea level) and
  • Santo da Serra Golf Club (since 1937, was redesigned in 1991 by Robert Trent Jones Snr, who created a new and spectacular 27-hole complex).

I will get back in the second half of this post to this part of my Portuguese golf trip.

Aroeira II Golf Course with the lake Portuguese golf courses

Actually, we can say that the 1st Tee Times Lisbon Tournament was a FAM trip. We stayed at the Sana Sesimbra Hotel. Carlos & his team organized a very interesting and professional 4-day FAM trip to these golf clubs:

It was a very nice international gathering. Even from Canada, there were some tour operators and media representatives.

I think the Orizonte Lisbon Golf managed Aroeira I & Aroeira II are ideal for those golfers who prefer straight courses with few and/or little water hazards. The trees at Aroeira II Golf Course were really tricky. They reminded me of the Turkish Gloria Golf Club in Belek.

My favorite golf course was the Rocky Roquemore-designed Quinta do Peru golf course (par-72, parkland-type; more than 6842 meters). I enjoyed its doglegs on the golf course and even the intimidating lake at the 17th hole.

I think Quinta do Peru can easily compete with the Victoria Golf Course (Dom Pedro Golf) in Vilamoura (Algarve) where I played in February 2018.

If you are in that region, then I can strongly recommend José Maria Da Fonseca Winery. I am grateful to Carlos who took us there and showed the great wines of the winery.

Madeira: Palheiro Golf Club & Santo da Serra Golf Club

Many of the golf tourists who consider having a golf holiday in Portugal think mainly about in the Algarve on in the Lisbon region.

Although Madeira has got only 3 golf clubs, it can provide a very meaningful and colorful golf holiday for any golfers, especially because the three golf clubs are not too far away from each other. On the map, it might look like that, but in reality, they can be reached easily.

I must admit that they are not so close like the Dom Pedro Golf clubs in the Algarve or Praia Del Rey & West Cliffs & Royal Obidos.

If you are using the Madeira Golf Passport then you can get nice offers.

During your stay, you will be able to do canyoning, trail running, mountain biking, climbing, jeep tours, paragliding, and trekking in addition to playing golf.

Palheiro Golf Club Funchal Portuguese golf courses
Palheiro Golf Club – Funchal

In the last IGTM in Ljubljana, Rodrigo Ulrich the general manager of Palheiro Golf Club invited me to visit his golf club. Needless to say, I accepted immediately his invitation.

The Palheiro Golf Club’s golf course is one of Cabell B. Robinson’s 3 golf course design works in Portugal beside Praia D’El Rey and Troia.

During my visit, I was happy to discover that Palheiro Golf Club is paying sufficient attention to sustainability and saving pollinators. They added plenty of flower beds to the golf course, even by turning bunkers into flower beds…

I think it was a great idea to redesign the trees to have a better and clear view of the Atlantic Ocean and Funchal. By paying attention to visual experience as well, they are creating unique and memorable experiences for their guests and members.

I believe today’s golfers and golf tourists alike are looking for unique, memorable and personable experiences.

I also enjoyed his colleagues’ authentic, professional and friendly service in the pro-shop and in the restaurant. Their restaurant has a very good reputation in Funchal (at least). This is why I was happy to have lunch there during my stay.

Palheiro Golf Club flowers Portuguese golf courses
The Santo da Serra Golf Club – Machico

The Santo da Serra Golf Club (it has cca. 300-400 members) is a little bit far from the busy life of Madeira with a scenic view to the Atlantic Ocean. I took this picture in the very early hours, but it tells what we can expect during our game.

I was pleased to find defibrillator in the clubhouse (see picture). We must be prepared to sudden, unexpected events too. So far, they are the first golf club where I found such a machine.

Last year at the CMAE Conference in Marbella this was a major topic. I hope they developed a detailed action plan and process how to manage such a case when they need to use the defibrillator.

It was great to find a customer survey and a TripAdvisor sticker that asks us to write a review about the golf club.

If I were them, I would put such survey questionnaire in the golf carts + on the table of the restaurants as Las Colinas Golf & Country Club does (+many other clubs after a specific experience).

In the pro-shop I found a relatively wide range of brands (e.g. FootJoy, Glenmuir, Lyle & Scott, TaylorMade Golf, etc.).

Santo da Serra Golf Club in the morning hours Portuguese golf courses

Meanwhile, Madeira has experienced a boost in golf numbers during the first four months of 2019, with the two ‘mainland’ courses experiencing almost double-digit growth.

Palheiro Golf has enjoyed 9.4% growth in the same period last year, while Santo da Serra is not far behind with an increase of 8.4%.