EASTERN ALGARVE, PORTUGAL MONTE REI
Spain to the left of me, Faro to the right... Who wouldn’t want to be stuck in the middle of this paradise? A developer’s delight, I was staring out over 1,000 acres of dramatic coastal countryside in the Eastern Algarve, that Jack Nicklaus had just agreed to build a golf course on.
When Monte Rei opened in 2007, you would’ve thought it was a bit late to the party, but if Jack Nicklaus had any magic left in him, then he poured it out over his ‘Signature’ course here.
Panning from the foothills of the Sierra do Caldeirao mountains to the horizon of the Atlantic, it’s what high-resolution cameras were built for. And the use of elevation is breathtaking, especially on the first hole.
“I could play that first hole 18 times,” slobbered Mike, my partner-in-crime. In fact, we struggled to think of one weak hole over the entire layout. It came as no surprise when we were informed that this was the No.1 ranked course in Portugal. It seduces you all the way round and the staff bend over backwards to help you. I used to think that was all marketing speak to make me part with a few dollars but we would happily fly here every year if we could afford to.
You’ll find here exactly what the golfing tourist is looking for. ‘Championship’ Golf courses deliberately handcrafted for the front of brochures with multiple tees that can accommodate everyone from the European Tour to the hungover pensioner.
ALGARVE PORTUGAL QUINTA DO LAGO
Having a family who is not so keen on golf requires a resort where I can do my worst with the niblicks, safe in the knowledge that, whatever everyone else wants to do, it’s available.
As it happened, at Quinta Da Lago, I was instantly mesmerized by the quality of the three championship golf courses and was looking forward to a week of driving the links.
When I wasn’t hitting wedges off soft, spongy lies, I was hanging out with the girls at the giant lake, body surfing in the sea and helping ourselves to an endless supply of superb seafood restaurants. But back to the golf, I played Laranjal first.
Named after the orange groves that surround it, this track was voted Best Golf Course at the Portuguese Travel Awards. It’s a cracking course in immaculate condition especially when I made my birdie on the par-three 17th.
The South Course is no slouch either and regularly features in Europe’s Top 100 lists. Colin Montgomerie won his first-ever Tour event here back in 1673 or something, and a young Paul McGinley had set up a state-of-the-art golf academy here on the resort.
ALGARVE, PORTUGAL VALE DO LOBO
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