Golf Club on tour in Portugal’s central Algarve
Quinta do Lago – the perfect destination all round
Six of us recently went on a ‘boys-only’ central Algarve golfing week based at a ‘Hollywood Hills’-style rental villa. The Quinta do Lago property was awesome; particularly the luxury outdoor lounge and pool areas and I took full credit for finding it! Sporty Doug was straight into the pool on arrival and somehow I found myself nominated for a local supermarket run whilst the rest of the group settled in for the evening with some beers.
By the time I got back, the electric BBQ – a bit of a beast that was built into one of the exterior walls on the pool terrace – had caught everyone’s eye. After a bit of a battle with five would-be BBQ kings – Pete drew the longest straw and the rest of us were confined to just watching the ‘main man’ in action with the tongs as he tried to persuade us that he really does know when chicken is cooked properly. Surprisingly we all made it though the night.
Stu (known affectionately as ‘admin Annie’) had booked all our green times with military precision and had even printed off a daily schedule for all of us. Little wonder he’s the secretary of the Gold Club back home. He’d pre-booked 4 different courses online to get the best prices and saved us a considerable amount of wedge.
We opened our cards by playing Quinta do Lago South, a course well known for hosting the Portuguese Open. This course definitely favours the longer hitter although you also need a good line. It’s a good course for all standards but sadly none of us made any impression on Colin Montie’s record ‘62’. We hired buggies for Quinta do Lago north and there was much banter as Pete took a double dunking on 13 and 18. Aside from lots of watering holes, this course offers stunning views and some great par-5 holes.
We also played the Ocean course – with its narrow fairways along the cliff top. It’s easy to be distracted by the sea views here – ‘apparently’ that’s why Doug hit a pine tree and ended up behind his start position and at risk of joining the following group. We also played LarajalÂ – the newest course in the Almancil areaÂ – that has plenty of obstacles and lakes as well as narrow fairways. It demanded far too much concentration for me and was a day I’d rather forget, so I’ll gloss over that one…
We had one non-golfing day when a couple of the group went to the local driving range to brush up. There were wild accusations of secret golf lessons -Â but I couldn’t possibly comment! The rest of the group had a tour around the area stopping at a couple of other local courses for a looksee – including Pinheiros Altos, Royal and San Lorenzo – Almancil and Loule Castle before checking out purpose-built sporting and sailing destination Vale do Lobo.
The spring weather was pretty much perfect – blue skies, around 20 degrees and sunny everyday except one, when it was a bit overcast and the heavens opened whilst we were on course.
Apart from the morning when we had an 8am green time, Doug was the only one insane enough to be up and out at 6am. Religious about his morning running – he headed down to the beach towards Val do Lobo and around the nature reserve tracks, trails and walkways. We heard all sorts of tales about the benefits of barefoot running on the sand and all agreed that it sounds like a great idea…until you step on something you’d rather not have stepped on.
BBQ dinners at the villa were great, followed by plenty of gentle ribbing about the day’s winners and losers at local Quinta plaza pubs De Barra and The Melting Pot. Generally, at least two of us would get stuck there and then get stuck in bed the following morning. We didn’t miss any tee times though, which all things considered was pretty good going.
We couldn’t stay without at least one visit to the ever-popular Chicken Shack restaurant on Quarteria Road and we also found a lovely beach restaurant further along the road at Trafal Beach that I’ll come back to with the Mrs – as romantic sunset dining with the boys wasn’t really on the cards. Speaking to other golfers, local beach restaurants Julia’s, Maria’s and BJ’s – as well as the fish restaurant Passos – were all getting great reviews.
The good thing about Quinta is that it’s not just a golfing venue but you could easily bring your family here and have a fantastic beach or active holiday (hiking, riding, tennis etc) as well as spending a couple of days on course. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back with the family to exactly the same villaÂ – providing the wife lets me bring the clubs…