Golf in Algarve

Voted the best Golf destination in the world, the Algarve, as a prestige and prime destination, certainly as ensured its product continue to be of the highest quality at the right price.

With over 300 days of sunshine, it's the perfect place for holidays, and Faro is a popular destination with no-frills airlines, so changes to the market don't affect the Algarve profoundly.

The Western Algarve

The courses in the western Algarve, to the west of Albufeira, tend to be slightly less busy than those in the east, where more UK residents have second, or maybe time-share, homes.

Hotel accommodation tends to be in smaller, boutique hotels or even B&Bs, and serious golfers tend to stay in places such as Lagos or Portimão where evenings tend to be a little less rowdy. Golfers coming this far west will also need a rental car.

Parque da Floresta, in the far west, is surrounded by some impressive homes and has some testing holes, particularly on the front nine.

Palmares is set in a beautiful orchard of almond and fig trees and has wonderful views out over the new Lagos marina, with five holes situated across a railway down near the beach.

The legendary Sir Henry Cotton designed the Penina course at Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort and was the golf pro here for some time - in fact he is burried just down the road. Little wonder then that this magnificent course is held in the very highest regard.

Elsewhere, Christy O'Connor Jr and Nick Faldo have put their names to courses at Amendoeira - the O'Connor course has plenty of water hazards; the Faldo course is more tree-lined, almost heath-like in style.

At Carvoeiro, once a classy little resort that has now outgrown its origins, Vale da Pinta and Quinta do Gramacho are both enjoyable and very walkable. The area has plenty of hotel accommodation, although it can be expensive, as are its restaurants. The Pestana Hotel has the best rates, and for those wishing to improve their golf, there's also a David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

The most easterly of western courses, Salgados, near Albufeira, is one of the newest courses on the Algarve, and claims to have a Scottish feel to it. In reality, with so much sunshine, it feels more like a Florida course with a few water hazards thrown in.

The Eastern Algarve

If you're looking for somewhere to hole up for a week of golf, your best bet is the Oceânico Golf Club ( formerly known as Vilamoura ), a custom-built golf resort that is well looked after, well planned and well run. There are dozens of hotels and apartments for rent and none of your clients will be disappointed.

Of the six courses here, the newest and most expensive is the Victoria course. Designed by Arnold Palmer in time for the 2006 World Cup of Golf, it's a real monster, measuring 7.200 yards off the back tees with plenty of water hazards.

The best at Oceânico is probably The Old Course - in fact it's arguably the best in the Algarve, although fellow Oceânico course Vila Real is also highly impressive. For golfers staying in Vilamoura, there are shuttle services to most of the courses so the visiting golfer doesn't need a rental car ( airport transfers are easily available ). Another excelent option is nearby Pine Cliffs, set inside the grounds of the five-star Sheraton Hotel, perched on a clifftop.

Vale do Lobo has two magnificent courses, the Ocean course ( Robert Trent Jones Jr added nine holes to the nine designed by Sir Henry Cotton ), which overlooks the sea and is a wonderful test of golf; and the newer Royal course ( also based on nine of Cotton's ) which runs through stands of umbrella pines. Quinta do Lago has two courses, both of which are excelent, with a third recently opened.

Pinheiros Altos is in the same area and has attracted a very wide following among the better of Europe's gofers. Running alongside the Ria Formosa National Park, the area is teeming with exotic birdlife. Quinta de Cima and Quinta da Ria are linked and are both a great test of golf without being either too expensive or too exclusive.

Finally, in the far East side of the Algarve a new course, Monte Rei, designed by Jack Nicklaus, offers residential-golf developments complete with a range of available rentals.