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Portugal


BEYOND the Alga r ve


Peter Ellegard looks at the perennially popular Portugal and what’s on offer for those looking for an alternative to the Algarve


Da Rua Augusta, Lisbon A


veritable battalion of top-class layouts scattered along the beach- and resort-indented southern coast lures an army of golfers to the Algarve every year. Indeed, the


region has been a magnet for those looking for high-quality, good-value courses ever since former British Open champion Henry Cotton put his name to the course at Penina back in 1966. News that the Algarve broke its all-time high for golf visitor


numbers in 2015 won’t have come as a huge surprise to most. It currently boasts around 42 superb courses, which together clocked up almost 1.2 million rounds of golf in 2015. However, there are many more golfing opportunities in this Iberian nation than you might imagine. Those who quell at the commercialism and overdevelopment of the Algarve will find plenty to savour in other parts of the country. Lisbon is one of Europe’s most thrilling capitals. The hilly city


is a visual feast, with yellow-hued buildings rubbing shoulders with Gothic cathedrals, monasteries and a spectacular hilltop castle. Its streets, meanwhile, resound to the chat of locals conversing over coffee in numerous cafes and the soulful strains of fado, a melancholic form of Portuguese folk music.


It takes a lot to tear you away from all this, but the breadth


of the challenges waiting just outside the city is sure to tempt even the most avid of holiday golfers. The Lisbon Golf Coast — the name given to the clutch of courses on the Atlantic


seaboard — hosts a superb array of tests, many of which rank among the best in Europe. Further north, the beautiful and historic city of Porto


provides the ideal base for exploration of other worthy layouts, including Estela Golf Club, regarded as one of the few genuine links courses outside the UK. Other unsung treasures lie in wait on the island of Madeira, where two wonderful courses are almost as convivial as the lush landscape and the famous local hospitality. Portugal also excels at making life easy for visitors. Green


fees are generally reasonable, an advanced transport infrastructure makes geting around simple, and the generous climate lends itself to year-round play. Whether it’s sticking to the Algarve’s beaten path or


venturing into more unexplored territory, Portugal continues to offer prime holiday golfing packages to suit all tastes.


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