Top 10 Courses: Portugal

Heres our list of the top 10 courses across the Atlantic in Portugal

1. MONTE REI (NORTH), Vila Nova de Cacela, Faro

At the southern tip of Portugal, this Jack Nicklaus course unfurls between the Serra do Caldeirão mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Bigness is the keynote: Broad fairways, enormous sculpted bunkers, and raised greens with vicious runoffs make this a true championship test.

Monte Rei (North) (photo by Gary Edwards)

2. WEST CLIFFS, Vau, Leiria

Cynthia Dye, niece of Pete, made her mark with this dramatic links-like layout an hour from Lisbon where the Atlantic is in view from every hole. Disruption of the environment was minimal, and the many acres of indigenous scrub vegetation add to both the difficulty and the beauty.

3. TROIA, GDL, Setúbal

Set on a windblown peninsula south of Lisbon (reached most easily by ferry), this Robert Trent Jones Sr. design features some of his narrowest fairways and smallest greens. Sandy waste areas border the pine-lined fairways and several holes run along the beach.

4. QUINTA DO LAGO (SOUTH), Almancil, Faro

The grand dame of Algarve golf, Billy Mitchell’s 1974 design saw a renovation two years ago and is better than ever, its fairways winding among umbrella pines, wildflowers, and ponds and lakes, all of it overlooking scenic Ria Formosa.

5. OITAVOS DUNES, Cascais, Lisbon

Set on an exposed dunescape at the most westerly tip of Europe, this is a classic out-and-back design with a links flavor. Its small, sloping greens can be elusive thanks to a near-constant ocean breeze.

6. SAN LORENZO, Almancil, Faro

A nature reserve is the centerpiece of this Joe Lee design, routed in a figure eight through saltwater marshes, freshwater lagoons, and beside the Atlantic. It’s home to more than 70 species of birds, but they can be hard to come by on the course.

Praia D’El Rey (photo by Kevin Murray)

7. PRAIA D’EL REY, Amoreira, Leiria

Three different environments come into play on this Cabell Robinson course laid out in two loops. The opening holes move through parkland, followed by a seaside stretch and then a finish through pine-clad heathland.

8. FALDO COURSE, Alcantarilha, Murcia

A rare inland layout among Portugal’s best, this one from Sir Nick carves through terrain marked by rocky outcroppings and grown with holm oaks, olive trees, wild herbs, even cactus amid desert scrub. It all calls for Faldo-like care and strategy.

9. QUINTA DO LAGO (LARANJAL), Almancil, Faro

More undulating than its older stablemates at Quinta do Lago, it sprawls through ancient orange groves. Cork trees, umbrella pines, and a handful of lakes add to the challenge of a course with five par fives and five par threes.

10. PALMARES (LAGOS & PRAIA NINES), Odiáxere, Faro

Robert Trent Jones Jr. was hired to renovate Frank Pennink’s 1975 course and instead recreated it as three nines. The Lagos loop starts on high ground with spectacular Atlantic views, working down to the beach where the Praia simulates a British links, with a railway beside it.

Thank you for supporting our journalism. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the Fall 2023 issue of LINKS Magazine. Click here for more information.