Mention golf and Portugal and most of us immediately think of the Algarve. But while the Algarve is undoubtedly a jewel in the golfing crown, there is a serious rival in Lisbon’s Silver Coast which boasts at least half a dozen top quality courses.
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators named the Lisbon Silver Coast as the “Golf Destination of the Year” in 2007, ahead of the Algarve and Andalucia.
The Silver Coast is two to three hours flying time from most UK airports and European cities and what’s more it’s rarely as crowded as the Algarve, the golf generally costs less and there seems a lot more to see and do with enchanting towns such as Obidos, Peniche and Torres Vedras.
There is also much stunning coastline, wonderful restaurants and wineries to visit and excellent hotels situated in the Oeste region, two of them being the Marriott Praia D’El Rey and the Westin CampoReal.
Both have their own top-quality golf courses, while the revamped Golden Eagle complex and the new Bom Sucesso lay-out are fine additions to a list that includes the likes of Quinta da Marinha Oitavos and Clube de Golfe da Quinta da Marinha (Cascai), Penha Longa, Belas Clube de Campo, Botada, Vimeiro and Lisbon Sports Cub.
Cabell Robinson has designed a stunningly picturesque layout at Praia D’El Rey with contrasting loops set in pine forest and among undulating dunes with spectacular views over the Atlantic.
The course is a real challenge with deep bunkers, rolling greens and natural sand areas waiting if you miss the fairways, but there is a choice of tees which means the course doesn’t have to be too tough and it’s eminently walkable, although off the back tees, it’s a very healthy 6,467 metres.
The hotel is genuinely five star and there are many options for golfers and families including the townhouses in Praia D’El Rey Village which can accommodate groups in some style and at much less cost than hotel rates.
Golden Eagle Residence and Golf Resort was awarded the title of Best Golf Destination in the World by IAGTO in 2006. Designed by Rocky Roquemore, the course meanders through rolling hills and pine trees with nine lakes, thanks to a recent revamp.
On-site facilities include a restaurant, pro shop and academy, driving range, short game area and future developments include a second course which will open for play in 2011 and a five-star hotel.
Most of the changes to course have been on the back nine with a new lake on 11, a spectacular island green at the 12th, a bigger lake at 14 and other water features on 16, 17 and 18.
At 6,623 metres, it’s not short and like another recent development – Bom Sucesso – there are also plans for townhouses, villas and apartments.
Bom Sucesso has what is said to be Donald Steel’s swansong as the centrepiece of a massive development. It’s not a flat course and most will prefer buggies although it can be walked if you’re fit enough.
There is a spectacular finish – 16, 17 and 18 are superb – the drive at 17, a 530 metre dogleg par five is simply awesome. Standing on the tee reveals the whole vista of the surrounding area, the lagoon of Obidos and the distant mountains to the east, the resort to the north and the sea to the west and forest to the south.
The course measures 6,234 metres and is at the centre of more than 1,000 uniquely designed properties, five star hotel and spa. It is no ordinary development as the villas and townhouses have been designed by some of the world’s best contemporary architects.
The villas are also no more than one or two storeys, most of them with grassed roofs which help them blend into the natural scenery.
The resort will have varied options – to buy or rent – and from next year it will be possible to enjoy a stay at Bom Sucesso in one of the specially designed townhouses, villas or apartments with the hotel option also coming on stream soon.
The Westin CampoReal Golf Resort and Spa boasts a truly magnificent five –star hotel and it’s just 30 minutes from Lisbon.
There are plenty dining options including an excellent restaurant as well as an all-day dining room. There is also a top-class spa with fitness studio, swimming pool, saunas and steam rooms.
It also boasts a Donald Steel course and is a real test of your driving ability on some holes. The answer is not the driver. Having said that there are some spectacular tees and you just have to give it a go don’t you!
A word of advice, take a buggy but, again, if you’re fit, the course can be walked and not all of the holes are as narrow as some and there is a fine finish, but for me, some of those narrow tree-lined holes are wonderful if frustrating at times!
Praia D’El Rey Golf and Beach Resort, Vale de Janelas, 2514-999 Obidos. Tel: +351 262 905 005; Fax: +351 262 905 009; Email: email@example.com; Website: praia-del-rey.com
Golden Eagle Residence and Golf Resort, Quinta do Brincal, E.N. 1, Km 63/64, Asseiceira 2040 – 481 – Rio Maior. Tel: +351 243 940 040; Fax: +351 243 940; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: goldeneagle-golfresort.com
Westin CampoReal Golf Resort and Spa, Rua do Campo, 2565 – 770 Turcifal/Torres Vedras. Tel: +351 261 960 200; Email: email@example.com; Website: westin.com/camporeal
Golfe do Bom Sucesso, Bom Sucesso, Vau-Obidos, 2510-663 Vau–Obidos. Tel: + 351 262 968 562; + 351 262 968 805, +351 262 969 470; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: bomsucesso.net