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Want to make somebody instantly jealous of your golfing exploits? Tell them you’re off to Portugal’s Algarve with the sticks. That usually does the trick.
It’s got sun – over 300 days of guaranteed sun, in fact – more than 40 courses to drool over and enough nightlife to shake your aforementioned sticks at. In terms of golf haunts abroad, it really does not get any better.
Flights are easy to come by, and relatively cheap, not to mention available from a number of airlines, including budget options. Faro airport also happens to have been redeveloped in recent years, so long gone are the infamous queues and long waits to get out the terminal and onto the golf course. If you knew what it was like a few years ago, you won’t recognise the place.
The best place to be in this corner of the Algarve is Vilamoura, just 30 minutes from Faro. The town came to life as the centre for golf tourism in the 1980s and is known for its stunning marina, where the rich and famous dock their multi-million pound yachts before indulging in some relaxation time.
Vilamoura has a wonderful supply of excellent restaurants, bars to suit all requirements and brilliant beaches.
But that’s not necessarily why you’ll be interested.
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You want top quality golf, and you probably don’t want to travel too far for it. Thankfully, Dom Pedro Golf has you covered, with its five-strong collection of venues in the town: Laguna, Millennium, Victoria, Pinhal and Old.
The Laguna, Millennium and Victoria are all situated next door to one other, whilst the Old and Pinhal are located just a ten-minute drive into the hills.
The Victoria is probably the standout venue and the one you’ll know best, as it recently hosted the recent Portugal Masters on the European Tour (which it has done from the tournament’s inception).
It recently showcased the results of a major overhaul, which was part of a wider €4.5million “development strategy” across the five courses Dom Pedro. Included in that upgrade at the Victoria was the addition of a more resilient Common Bermuda grass to the rough and green surrounds.
As a warm weather variant that uses water much more efficiently, this allows greens staff to alter the line of the fairways more easily and present the course in tournament-ready condition.
And that will be one of your first realisations at this championship-standard course – it’s the real deal. Expect superb par-4s into huge greens, exciting par-3s that make you think on the tee, and winding par-5s that are even tougher now following the upgrade. It can be hilly in parts, but you can play off any tee spot of your choice. The back nine houses some truly brilliant risk and reward holes involving water coming into play on certain holes on more than one occasion.
It’s a fun, rewarding golf course if you play to your usual standard. Just ask Oliver Fisher, the Englishman who made history here by recording the first 59 on the European Tour here in 2018.
The Laguna is a flatter, more accessible course and doesn’t have the number trees on its surrounds. It’s has a little bit more of a coastal terrain – the only course on the Dom Pedro list that does so – and so offers a test that’s unique, even though it sits adjacent to the Millennium.
It’s got some large sand traps to contend with and a few water hazards – there are 11 in total – which will swallow your ball if you’re offline. The Millennium course, meanwhile, boasts a number of holes that stretch through majestic pinewoods, playing into large greens. It’s always popular with visitors.
Venturing up into the hills you will find Pinhal and the Old Course, both the work of Frank Pennink. The Pinhal course is a classic, undulating parkland where you’ll find fairways flanked by tall pines and water features that don’t necessarily truly threaten your play.
Find out more
Planning a golf break?
If so, make sure you check out the 2020 Travel Guide from bunkered.
Available to read online, it is a 48-page digital lowdown on the best
holiday golf destinations on the planet.
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