- Top 60 Golf Courses of Portugal 2023
Top 60 Golf Courses of Portugal 2023
Welcome to the eighth edition of our ranking chart for Portugal. Thanks to additional data received from an expanded panel of golfers, we’re able to extend the listings by another ten courses to produce a Top 60 for this country.
For a nation of 10 million people with only 15 thousand registered golfers, Portugal is blessed with more than a hundred golf courses – twenty-two 9-hole and eighty-six 18-hole – which enables it to cope with the huge number of visiting golfers that flock here every year.
Although the course at Oporto dates back to 1890, many of the tracks in play today have only been in operation since the mid-1960s, after Henry Cotton laid out the Championship 18-hole course at Penina in the western Algarve.
New build has slowed down in recent years but four brand new courses have just opened or are about to be unveiled: Ombria near Faro in the Algarve and three others – Costa Terra, Pinheirinho and Terras da Comporta (Dunas) – located on the coast to the south of Lisbon.
Although a few of our raters have visited these courses, there were not enough votes gained to merit inclusion in this chart. However, we’ve seen enough to know that all four will make a substantial impact on the rankings next time around so remember where you read this first…
The North course at Monte Rei Golf & Country Club moved to the #1 position in our Portuguese chart in 2010 and it’s managed to fend off all other contenders for the top spot since then. A rare Jack Nicklaus Signature design in Europe, the course is set out in the foothills above Tavira in the eastern Algarve, close to the border with Spain, where a number of the heavily sand-protected holes are routed around attractive water hazards.
Rising two places to #3, the original Frank Pennink-designed course at Palmares Ocean Living & Golf was placed at number 31 in our inaugural Portuguese listings in 2008. Robert Trent Jones Junior then completely upgraded the layout, dividing the property into three nines, two of which – the Praia and Lagos – we feature as the best 18-hole combination, though there are some who think the Alvor is as good (if not better) than the other two loops.
Quinta do Lago
The Laranjal course at Quinta do Lago (up three to #10) has risen steadily in the rankings since making its debut at #29 in 2012. Laid out within a compact estate in relative isolation a 10-minute drive from the South and North courses, the Laranjal was designed by Jorge Santa da Silva, with holes routed around half a dozen little lakes – and, in a nod towards the site’s former use, small orange groves flank several fairways.
Previously ranked as a Top 10 track between 2008 and 2014, the Victoria course at Dom Pedro Vilamoura climbs three rungs of the ladder to #16. Opened for play almost 20 years ago, the Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria has hosted 16 editions of the Portugal Masters since 2007. All five Vilamoura tracks – Old, Victoria, Pinhal, Millennium and Laguna – are well worth a play when visiting the area.
Vale do Lobo
The Royal course at Vale do Lobo nudges four spots higher to #19 but the Ocean course does better, soaring eleven places up to #21. The resort was founded in the late 1960s with an initial 18-hole course but, as the development grew, these two new 18-hole layouts evolved. For golfers who want to tackle the composite course used for the 2002 and 2003 Open de Portugal, play holes 1-6 and 12-18 on the Royal, together with 10, 11, 15, 16 and 18 on the Ocean.
Quinta da Ria
Largely reversing a fall of eleven places when we last re-ranked Portugal, the Quinta da Ria course in the eastern Algarve moves eight places in the right direction to #26. Designed by Rocky Roquemore along with the Quinta de Cima course at the same 36-hole resort in 2002, the Quinta da Ria layout is, in the words of a recent reviewer, the course that “provides more excitement and memorable golfing moments.”
Formerly called Aroeira II, the Aroeira Challenge course advances seven places to #30 in our new standings. Considered the tougher of the two 18-hole tracks at the Orizonte Aroeira golf complex, the Challenge course is an early new millennium offering from Martin Ebert when he worked with Donald Steel. Well bunkered fairways are carved through dense pine forest and water hazards come into play at almost half the holes on the scorecard.
The Pines and Corks nines at the Pinheiros Altos Golf Resort next to Quinta do Lago make the biggest forward move in the bottom half of the new table, rising eight to #39. We used to feature the Olives nine in the preferred 18-hole setup here but – after we attended a media visit a couple of years ago – that water-laden circuit was replaced with George Santa da Silva’s superior Corks 9-hole loop. It’s always satisfying to see an unsung course get the recognition it deserves.
The first of our ten new entries arrive at #45 and it’s the Batalha Golf Course near the north coast of São Miguel island in the Azores, just a 15-minute drive from the capital Ponta Delgada. Bob Cameron and Chris Powell designed the 27-hole facility which first opened its doors to visitors thirty years ago. Set out across a hilly 300-acre site, the course hosted the one-off Azores Senior Open in 2008, when Australian Stuart Ginn won the event by two shots.
To view the entire detailed list of our latest Top 60 Golf Courses of Portugal click the link. View list here.
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