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​Top 50 Golf Courses of Portugal 2018

29 January, 2018

Top 50 Golf Courses of Portugal 2018

Tourism statistics for Portugal reveal around 11 million people visited the country in 2016. We don’t know exactly how many of these were golfers but we’re pretty sure it was a high proportion of the total. After all, with less than fifteen thousand registered Portuguese golfers – even Iceland has more, with nearly 17,000 – how could golf in a nation with such a relatively small number of local participants survive without the green fees paid by a healthy influx of visiting golfers from other parts of Europe?

This is the fifth time we’ve updated our Portuguese rankings since starting out with a Top 30 in 2008. Even though there are only 100 courses in total spread throughout the country, we’ve decided to add another ten tracks to our listings so we now feature a Top 50 for one of the most popular golfing destinations in Europe, with courses divided into the five distinct geographical regions of Algarve, Azores, Lisbon & Centre, Madeira & Porto Santo and Porto & North.

The North course at Monte Rei Golf & Country Club in the eastern Algarve retains its status as the number 1 golf layout in our new Portuguese rankings. A Nicklaus Signature design that first opened its doors to golfers a decade ago, the course is the first of several planned within a huge gated estate that spreads out across the foothills above the small coastal town of Tavira, close to the Spanish border. A number of water hazards come into play and there’s some of the best bunkering we have seen anywhere on this course, with not a weak hole on the scorecard. We can only endorse what a recent reviewer wrote in his post: “Monte Rei more than deserves its spot as the top course in Portugal!”

Arriving from literally nowhere, the course at West Cliffs debuts in the Portuguese national chart at number 2, having crashed into our Continental Europe Top 100 at number 16 last month. Designed by Cynthia Dye and laid out along the sandy Silver Coast to the north of Lisbon, this place already has people running out of superlatives when trying to describe their playing experience out on the course. Top 100 Team member Andy Newmarch visited with a media delegation before the course officially opened back in June last year and you can read what he thought in this article: West Cliffs is set to become Cynthia Dye’s global masterpiece.

Incredibly, there are only four courses that move upwards in the revised table so, with ten new entries, that means thirty-six either remain in the same position or fall down the standings. The most prominent of our climbers is the South course at Quinta do Lago (up one place to number 9), which is set amongst two thousand acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park in the Algarve. Most of the media attention in the last few years has been focused on the multi-million euro upgrade of the North course but the William Mitchell-designed South course – host venue for several Portuguese Open championships down the years – is still the #1 track at this massive 54-hole residential complex located close to Faro airport, where tens of thousands of golfers have been entertained ever since the facility first opened in 1974.

Also rising one place to number 19, the Victoria course in Vilamoura (formerly operated by Oceanico, now run by Dom Pedro Golf) is an Arnold Palmer layout that’s well accustomed to hosting big professional tournaments. Not only has it staged the annual Portugal Masters tournament for the last eleven years, it was also the venue chosen for the World Cup of Golf 2-man team event in 2005, a mere twelve months after the course was first unveiled to an expectant golfing public. The front nine has been described as “very good” but the back nine “is just amazing” so be prepared to up your game after the turn if you get the chance to tee it up here.

A couple of other courses in the north of the country make modest positional gains.

The links layout to the north of the small coastal town of Póvoa de Varzim at Estela Golf Club (up two to 21) was favourably mentioned in a recent post, with a reviewer calling it an “excellent championship course along the seaside... very demanding as fairways are narrow and holes not short… by far the best course around Porto,” whilst the 18-hole remodelled course at Vidago Palace (up two to 31), originally set out as a 9-holer by Philip Mackenzie Ross in 1936, is the perfect golfing complement at a luxury five-star hotel which is located a 90-minute drive inland from the coast.


To view further details of the Top 50 Golf Courses of Portugal click the link.

We never boast about producing “definitive” golf course listings but we do pride ourselves in creating what we think are the “most informed” rankings that you’ll see published anywhere. We love to receive feedback on these updated national charts so if there’s anything you’d like to get off your chest regarding our new Portuguese standings then feel free to use the “Respond to this article” link at the top or bottom of this page to let us know your thoughts.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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