Spectacular Portugal!

San Lorenzo Golf Club If you are like me then the only thing that turns your attention to Portugal is it's most famous product - Port! And I really do enjoy a glass of aged vintage port, but I enjoy a sun drenched day on a stunning golf course a lot more. Portugal is very often overlooked as a golf destination but there is so much that it has to offer over just about every other golf destination in Europe.

The two primary golf destinations in Portugal are the Algarve in the south and the Lisbon coast in the central part of the country.

Definitely one of  Europe's best destinations when it comes to planning the ultimate golf vacation, the Algarve is home to over 30 golf courses and offers an extensive array of accommodation, ranging from vacation homes to golf resorts and hotels.

Algarve Golf

Long known as a beach destination, it was the legendary Sir Henry Cotton who started golf in the Algarve in 1966 when he transformed a rice field into a beautiful course - the first of three at the Penina Golf Resort. While in the Algarve be sure to visit Portimao and Vilamoura, which is regarded as the crown jewel of the region. Temperatures are mild here and peak season is actually during the winter months.

The Lisbon coast appears to be the emerging star of Portuguese golf! The Atlantic shoreline provides a breathtaking backdrop at the stunning resorts of Quinta Da Marinha and Praia D'el Rey.

Praia D'el Rey

Portugal seems to be more popular than it has ever been and why not? With the food, wine, weather and now golf that it has to offer who would not want to visit.
If you are looking for a European golf vacation in the sun, you simply must play

South Africa's Golf and Winelands

Pearl Valley South Africa has so much to offer, but for the golf fanatic and wine connoisseur there is no better, or more scenic, place in the world!  Our destination is Cape Town with stunning Table Mountain, it's mix of classic and modern styled golf courses and the beauty of the surrounding vineyards.

The grand course to play in the Cape Town area is Pearl Valley  in the tiny wine village of Franschoek (French corner in Dutch). Designed by Jack Nicklaus as one of his signature courses in 2003 it has all the modern amenities one might expect at a top-class facilty.  The course is known for it's world-class conditioning.  This December it will host it's third consecutive South African Open!

After your round a visit to Boekenhoutskloof winery to taste through a line up of what arguably may be South Africa's great red wines is a must. Try pronouncing that name after tasting through their wines!  Should you be hungry try Reubens Restaurant which was voted the top restaurant in South Africa in 2005.

 The primary wine growing region in the Cape is Stellenbosch, home to DeZalze Wine and Golf Estate. This course winds through vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields and was designed by my friend Peter Matkovich It hosted the World Amateur Team Championship in  2006.  Matkovich has quickly become the top course designer in Africa and has perhaps designed the most scenic course ever built in Pinnacle Point, a little further up the coast.  Peter was recently interviewed by Golf Club Atlas.

Ernie Els Winery

After a very enjoyable round of golf at DeZalze (great caddies!) a visit to the Ernie Els winery and Guardian Peak Restaurant is a must!  The restaurant is sensational and the view just cannot be beat.  This actually might be my favorite place to have lunch in the world.
If you are up to the challenge stop in at Fairview winery.  The makers of the popular Spice Route and Goats Do Roam wines have an excellent tasting room and restaurant in the Goatshed.


When in the Cape Town area I would also recommend playing at another Matkovich design, Clovelly Golf Club and Trevor Immelman's boyhood course Erinvale Golf Club.  For a links flavor with incredible scenery of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town give Milnerton Golf Club a try, but watch out for the 'Cape Doctor' a fierce wind that will challenge the best ball strikers.

In summary this is what to expect:

  • Golf: good to very good, good blend of old and modern style
  • Caddies: great experience and personality, request class A caddie, a worthwhile upgrade
  • Red wines: very good to excellent, try Pinotage, South Africa's indigenous grape
  • White wines: excellent, sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc are as good as anywhere
  • Food: spectacular, steak and seafood is truly world class
  • Value: excellent, the Dollar is currently about R10-$1, a great dinner with wine for four will run about $25 per person! Green fees will never be more than $100!

For your next exotic golf trip consider South Africa.  It has great golf and so much more available! To read more on traveling the South African winelands click the link.