Where are the eco-friendly Portuguese golf clubs?

By: August 1, 2019

I would like to believe that we golfers recognize the efforts of golf clubs who are trying to manage an eco-friendly golf club operations.

Sustainable golf tourism is not another popular trend, but it must be a top-top priority. I might say it is a moral imperative of all golf clubs!

Tourism contributes today about 5% of global greenhouse gas emission – a figure Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership expects to grow by 130% by 2035.

Today’s golf tourists prefer destinations that take initiatives to protect and preserve the environment. There are more and more pieces of evidence that tourists prefer eco-friendly accommodations.

GlobalData found that the higher the household income, the greater the likelihood to book an eco-friendly tourism holiday.

Naturally, sustainability fixated millennials also favor eco-friendly travel.

IAGTO and the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) they are cooperating since 2012 to promote sustainability in golf tourism globally.

As part of the cooperation, they are promoting practical and relevant international guidelines for golf development and management; streamlined and easy-to-use business support programs.

Vidago Palace eco-friendly

Eco-friendly Portuguese golf clubs

As I was preparing and searching for this article, I came across mainly with 3 eco-friendly Portuguese golf clubs:

  1. Vidago Palace,
  2. Espiche Golf,
  3. Ombria Resort (planned to open in 2021).

However, there are 7 other eco-friendly Portuguese golf clubs that worth highlighting.

Here is my full list of eco-friendly Portuguese golf clubs.

Vidago Palace

At the 2018 IAGTO Awards Vidago Palace was awarded for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainable Golf.

This recognition of Vidago Palace came 4 years after winning the Community Integration category in the 2015 IAGTO Sustainability Awards, the 118-year-old GEO Certified resort has now been given a Special Award in the 2019 edition.

Espiche Golf (Lagos, Algarve)

Their golf course is built on an Ecological Reserve, which means that the land is made of a geological structure of karst rock (Lime Stone) that has a water table ‘Aquifer’ below it.

They are using innovative grass technology, making this one of the most ecologically advanced courses in Europe. I would recommend giving a chance to the local wines.

Dom Pedro Golf’s Victoria Golf Course

I don’t how many of you know that the European Tour and the Golf Environment Organization has a joint sustainability program called GreenDrive program.

Victoria Golf Course as the host of the Portugal Masters is also participating in this program. It also has got the international ISO14001 standard for Environmental Management qualification since the opening in 2004.

The Dom Pedro Victoria Course is in perfect condition ahead of the Portugal Masters eco-friendly

Pine Cliffs Resort

I think this was the only eco-friendly Portuguese resort where I found concrete practices to reduce the ecological footprint of the resort.

Here are some examples:

  • Recycling of all waste produced, which means separating everything correctly before sending it to the local collection service;
  • In 2019 it has been reducing the use of several plastic items, including straws, plates, and cutlery;
  • Provide and promote the use of bicycles and Segways in the resort;
  • Installing several electric chargers in the resort to promote the use of electric vehicles;
  • All water taps have flow limiters, in order to reduce water waste.

Ombria Resort

The Ombria Resort is likely to open in 2021, but already makes headlines about its sustainability efforts. I really appreciate that they are focusing and committed so much to sustainability.

The resort is stretching on 150 hectares in the inner region of Algarve. It is a low-density resort development.

The initial investment is worth EUR 100 million (USD 113.3 mn).

As part of their sustainability efforts they will:

  • The resort is built on less than a quarter of the total resort area to preserve local biodiversity and developed smart buildings that utilize bioclimatic technology and innovative solar and geothermal technologies.
  • Respect for the existing flora, fauna and unspoiled landscape.
  • Cooperating with the local community, sharing the benefits of the resort.
  • Low-density concept and design.
Troia Resort golf course eco-friendly

Troia Resort

I think the first thing that will really impress you at Troia Resort is the biodiversity. Over 600 species have been listed:

  • 233 plant species;
  • 152 bird species;
  • 12 mammal species;
  • 11 reptile species;
  • 4 amphibian species.

The “Sado Estuary” on the Tróia peninsula is now part the Natura 2000 network.

Troia Resort wildlife eco-friendly

West Cliffs Links Golf Course

Thanks to my friend, Alexandra Betamio de Almeida I had the opportunity to learn about the developers’ sustainability efforts in 2016.

West Cliffs Golf Links in Portugal opened in 2017 with a special distinction as a GEO Certified® Development – the 1st course in Europe to complete the OnCourse Developments program administered by GEO Foundation.

They were able to minimize the disruption to existing established vegetation and limiting the amount of golf course irrigation and intensively-managed turf need to 26 hectares.

This is just 11% of the total site area.

West Cliffs-Portugal golf tourism destination eco-friendly

Belas Clube de Campo (near Lisbon)

Belas Clube de Campo received the certification in the LiderA system with the A+ Classification.

Belas Clube de Campo is also achieved the OnCourse Certificate of the Golf Environment Organization in 2011.

It received in recognition of the integration of economic, social and environmental dimension in its management, the Sustainable Development Award.

This award that adopts the DJSI (Dow Jones Sustainability Index) methodology.

Oitavos Dunes -13-Acopy eco-friendly

Oitavos Dunes

The eco-friendly golf course lies in the heart of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, near Lisbon.

The Oitavos Dunes is the first golf course in Europe and second in the world to get the Gold Signature Sanctuary status, quality certificate awarded by Audubon International.

In Europe, there are only 2 golf resorts in this status. The other one is the Lumine Beach & Golf Community.

Here the flora and fauna peculiar to the region are strictly protected. In the resort, you will find areas closed to people and machines.

Palheiro Golf Club – Madeira

During my visit in June, 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. 

Palheiro Golf Club flowers Portuguese golf courses eco-friendly

This article is brought to you by Tee Times Golf Agency.