Time to get your sticks out for a different part of Portugal (Shared from GolfPunk)
We all love the Algarve. But Portugal has a lot more to offer on the golfing front than that, and we think Porto ticks a whole lot of the right boxes.
So GolfPunk jumped on the European Golf & Travel Media Association bandwagon to head for Porto, and get boots on the ground.
GolfPunk is known to be partial to a good lunch, a bottle or two of something nice, slotting in a quick eighteen, and then readying for a good night out. And it’s all to be had in Porto.
Porto is the oldest city in Portugal, and we’ve been trading with it from time immemorial, buying their Port, and stoking up our gout.
Time immemorial actually officially kicked off in 1386 with the treaty of Windsor, and we’ve been close allies ever since.
Now the five most prominent courses around the city have teamed up with the best hotels, under the ‘Porto Golf Destination’ moniker, to market themselves to golfers looking to enjoy not only the wonderful city, but also the area as a whole, and the best golf that it has to offer.
The first thing to note is that this is a great place for a leisurely round. That’s not to say a slow round, just one where you are not under the gun from course marshals. It just isn’t as hectic as the Algarve, so you can breathe that bit more easily, and properly get into the swing of things.
Golf in Porto started with the opening of the Oporto Golf Club in 1890 by the Oporto Niblicks no less – a group of English traders living in the city, who sound like early GolfPunkers. Their first course was a nine–holer built entirely on sand, and is the third oldest golf club on the entire European continent.
A further nine was added in 1900, and the course now plays as it was finally laid out in 1934. It also holds the oldest cup in golf played for uninterruptedly since 1891, the Skeffington Cup, which was named after the original club president. So there’s a ton of history here to be savoured.
The course is just south of Porto near the seaside resort town of Espinho, and has all the characteristics of a links course with sandy areas, low wind bushes, very few trees and at any time of the year, the Atlantic breeze to keep you on your toes.
It may not be the longest of courses, but with very small greens it is still a challenge and a historic golf experience: one for the list for sure.
Accommodation can be found in the nearby 5* Solverde Spa & Wellness Resort where the rooms look straight out over the Atlantic and with the beach on your doorstep, there’s no better place to spend a few nights. The hotel is famous for its wellness suites and will leave you rejuvenated both pre and post your round of golf.
Most of the golf courses are dotted around the region and you will need a car to take them all in. You can use the services of Golf Concierge that caters to golfers with an extensive range of services.
Next stop, and we are off to Amarante GC, a Par 68 on the hillside overlooking the village. It’s a tricky and technical course to play and is great for a relaxing day out. The clubhouse terrace overlooks many of the holes and is the ideal place to sample some of the exquisite local food and drink.
Day three, and we head further inland to the mountainous region around Vidago, a town famed for the quality of its mineral water. The Vidago Palace Golf Resort was built in early 1900’s for King Carlos I as a luxury spa resort to stand alongside Europe’s finest.
The hotel then created a 9-hole golf course designed by Philip Mackenzie Ross, famous for the redesign of the Ailsa Turnberry Course.
The hotel was completely refurbished and modernised and the course upgraded to a full 18-hole challenging layout while still incorporating the original 1930’s course.
This is a tranquil piece of golfing heaven and luxury bliss. You start out on the original layout with tree lined fairways dissected by small streams and once you get through that, the course opens up a bit but still requires attention of the tee and specifically onto the greens.
The final couple of holes are laid out on the hillside above the hotel and meander through pine trees for some challenging tee shots. When you are golfed out, simply retire to the spa and relax near the outdoor swimming pool before sampling the best of the local produce in the Grand Ballroom.
Our work is not done yet, as we head over to Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest Chartered town, which is famed for its medieval bridge over the river Lima. It is also home to Axis Ponte De Lima Golf Resort.
It’s a parkland layout, with two distinctive nines with the front nine running through the hills and the back nine laid out in the park fronting the old manor house, which is now the clubhouse. The on–site hotel has 80 rooms and is within easy walking distance of the golf club.
We now head back to the Atlantic coast and the fantastic links course of Estela Golf Club. The course is laid out on a narrow strip of dune land and with the cooling influence of the Atlantic breeze; it’s an amazing place to play golf. It’s a links course with very few fairway bunkers as the natural defence are the sandy areas bordering the fast running fairways.
The club has two loops of 9 holes both finishing at the elevated clubhouse. As in every Portuguese club house, the food is excellent and with a rich history in wine making and with so many wines to choose from, don’t shy away from the house wine, red or white.
It’s early days for Porto as an out–and–out golf destination, but it is definitely one to watch, and come and experience. You get a ton of history, some great golf, and a culinary experience that will keep you coming back for more. Job done Porto!