Why Portugal is the Perfect Place for Golfers of All Levels

Montado, one of the world-class golf courses under the DHM stewardship in Portugal.
Montado, one of the world-class golf courses under the DHM stewardship in Portugal. | Courtesy of DHM

Editorial Manager

Golf is growing in popularity as a holiday pastime around the world. New courses, attractive locations and world-class facilities are motivating those who know their way from tee to green to pick their next travel destination, but what about beginners? Here’s what one novice found on a golfing trip to Portugal.

I’ve swung a club in my time, mainly on driving ranges while Tiger Woods was first making his name, but that’s a far cry from tackling an 18 hole course used by professionals. That daunting prospect awaited me (several times over) as I embarked on a golf trip to southern Portugal as part of an itinerary curated by DHM to some of their luxurious hotels and resorts. To be fair I knew that some of the stunning Octant properties would be standalone hotels which make the most of the sublime surroundings and are recognised around the world as some of the best, but what exactly was I going to do while everyone else was on the fairway?

Fortunately there were plans in place for non-golfers to enjoy stunning properties like the Octant Santiago if things on the course weren’t going well

I had resigned myself to racing golf buggies for fun and caddying for the better players I was travelling with, but to my surprise I actually found myself having a great time and – dare I say it – a natural talent for golf.

Where to stay and where to play

The plan was to travel from Lisbon and get to some of the best courses in the south of the country. We had a mixture of golf hotels associated with courses, standalone properties close to other famous golfing locations and a boutique spot we all were desperate to stay in.

We began driving towards the coast and had lunch at the Aroeira Pines Classic Course to start the day. The seasoned players of the group were off playing a round whilst the rest of us were enjoying local dishes like salted cod and sardines.

The Crowne Plaza Caprica complete with pool, small golf course and views of the Atlantic. The property is a short drive from Lisbon airport.

Our first stop was still close to Lisbon and the Crowne Plaza Caprica had everything for a relaxing nights sleep. We spotted a small 3-par golf course in the grounds of the hotel and after a quick trip to the spa we grabbed some clubs and tried to pitch and putt our way around. To be honest, we were pretty bad, this was the beginners groups after all, so as the sun set on the Atlantic coast which glistened only 3km away, we headed back in for a tasty dinner and an early night.

The next day saw us head to the championship course at Dunas, a new addition on many golfers bucket list designed by David McLay-Kidd. This was my first chance to actually learn some tips from a pro, and the excellent insight provided by an expert actually made me enjoy my time on the course. We started with the basis, which at first feels like a slow process, but just trying to hit the ball as hard as you can really is like chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Once you know how to pitch, putt and caress the ball, you’ll realise that simple techniques can help you with every aspect of the game.

The Portuguese coast has gorgeous sunsets, stunning golf courses and incredible hotels

I was surprised by how tiring a game of golf can be. It might not look like it, given the slow pace of the sport and how long it can take to play all 18 holes, but a day on the course can take it out of you. Luckily we were able to recharge at Octant Santiago for a superb dining experience and overnight stay. Chef Luís Batalha and his team’s many years of experience and dedication to local Alentejo cuisine, from the art of bread-making to traditional sweets and desserts, are something you should look to try for yourself. I loved the relaxed ambience here and the views from the rooms of Santiago do Cacém were the perfect way to take in the sunrise.

Trips like these are non-stop and we were soon off to the Algarve region of Portugal. This is a popular tourist destination for many holidaying Brits but there’s a great deal of culture to experience as well. The Patio Suite Hotel gave us a chance to choose what sort of activity we wanted to try here and whereas the golfers were obviously going to pick a day on the local course, I opted for time on Falesia beach. This was easy to reach and we had the option of a short walk or the free shuttle service provided by the hotel.

The Algarve coast

For a golfing novice, I think it was a great choice to mix up days dedicated to learning and playing the game with time away to soak up local culture (and some autumnal sun too!). This kept me interested in the sport and for my final full day I was looking forward to an incredible hotel stay and time on Quinta da Ria golf course.

On the way to Octant Vila Monte we also stopped off at their sister property in the Algarve and saw the beachside hotel Octant Pria Verde. These contrasting hotels, part of the 8 in the Octant collection, showcase the best of local culture and style whilst having an individual flare that elevate them to some of the best in the country. The light tones of Pria Verde and beach concept were typical of the high-end Iberian influences you might find in Ibiza or Formentera, whereas as the countryside ethos of Vila Monte reminded me of the opulence of Tuscany.

Octant Vila Monte

As a golf trip, this was the perfect way to learn the sport. I understand the obsession some people have with it as it is a game that rewards practice and persistence. I have neither given the time constraints of working in travel, but there is certainly something to be said for taking a day out of busy schedules to play a round, especially in new surroundings. Golf and travel go wonderfully well together, with some of the best courses selling themselves on the location alone, and it seems like Octant have tapped into this in Portugal to great effect.

While I’m unlikely to book a trip in the future purely dedicated to golf, I’m certainly going to be checking out hotels with courses nearby to see if I can put into practice some of the skills I learnt here.

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