Make the most of the gorgeous weather and take to the greens with our golfer’s guide to Lisbon
With approximately 300 days of sunshine a year, chances are you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get out the golf clubs in Lisbon. If the Algarve is still the altar for Portugal’s golfing faithful, Lisbon’s courses are close enough to the pulsing, cosmopolitan capital to ensure that the action doesn’t stop at the 18th hole. From the scenic course at Quinta do Peru to the Lisbon Sports Club and Belas Clube de Campo, take a look at our golfer’s guide to Lisbon for the finest fairways and greatest greens in the area.
Little more than twenty minutes from the heart of Lisbon and in a setting unspoiled by development, Lisbon Sports Club is a rare find. Its short but difficult course has expanded since it opened in the 60s to encompass 18 holes – along with a meandering water ditch which irrigates and frustrates in equal measure, especially at the 18th hole. If birdies are uncommon here, at least you’ll hear some chirping amid laburnums and eucalyptus trees in the nearby wood, Serra da Carregueirra. Fortunately, Lisbon Sports Club has its own tennis courts for when you’re ready to throw in the towel.
You’d be forgiven for assuming that our golfer’s guide to Lisbon offers little more than verdant expanses and sea views. Yet, a mere 30-minute drive from the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, on the edge of a 900-acre preservation area, Aroeira I and II bucks the trend. Demonstrating real design ingenuity, two-time Portuguese Open host Aroeira I trades fairway bunkers for lines of thick pine trees which scupper the strategies of even the most experienced players. With teeing possible at five distances, Aroeira II is an accessible challenge; but with water hazards at nine of its holes, few manage to overcome it.
Hidden away in the valleys of the Sintra hills (just half an hour’s drive from the city centre), Belas Clube de Campo is shielded from coastal winds, meaning players can enjoy this Championship course year-round. Designed by William “Rocky” Roquemore, the 8th hole at Belas was christened “Augusta” because it resembles the 13th hole, which follows the notorious “Amen Corner”. With some diverse and tricky holes, you might need a prayer to come in under par.
Portugal’s Silver Coast – several degrees cooler than the Algarve – testifies that you don’t need to go to Portugal’s traditional golfing heartland to get a traditional game. Bom Sucesso, a reasonably young course, really comes into its own on its undulating greens and challenges putters with its unpredictable relief. The clear division between Bom Sucesso’s first nine holes on even terrain and its second nine, which are more rugged, is a hallmark of architect Donald Steel and his meticulous planning.
On the manicured plains of a golf course, a player can sometimes seem peculiarly detached from nature. But a few holes at Tróia will get you swiftly reacquainted. Located on a west coast peninsula, accessible only by ferry from the nearby city of Setúbal, this is a real links course, surrounded by sand, with bunkers close to the green and astounding views over the Atlantic. This distracting spectacle could prove costly, particularly when you reach the par-5 18th hole – a tough dogleg guarded by bunkers on both sides.
If you’re seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city, Quinta do Peru is your sanctuary. Set in acres of pine forest in the Azeitão region just south of Lisbon, there are few residences to obscure your view from the fairway onto the chalky Arrábida Mountains. One of the most secluded courses in our golfer’s guide to Lisbon, you’ll be pleased to find there are few others around to appreciate these quick greens, frequent bunkers and testing doglegs. This course also boasts some superb practice facilities, including a driving range, two putting greens and a short game practice area.