The Dunas Course At Terras Da Comporta Makes It Double At The World Golf Awards

The Dunas Course at Terras da Comporta has announced its place on the global stage in style after being crowned as the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ and ‘Europe’s Best New Golf Course’ at the World Golf Awards 2023.

The par-71 layout near Lisbon claimed the prestigious accolades less than five months after its soft opening, with Terras da Comporta director of golf Rodrigo Ulrich on hand to receive the awards when the winners were unveiled at the prize-giving ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening. (October 23)

With the event rewarding excellence in the golf tourism market, Terras da Comporta’s success is significant recognition for Europe’s most talked-about new design projects. The ceremony brought together industry leaders from more than 65 nations across Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, North America and Oceania.

UIrich said: “We’ve been very excited about this project for many years. It’s incredibly satisfying to be finally open for play, and to see so many golfers enjoying what is a spectacular course, both in terms of its location and its design”.

“It’s a great thrill and honour to receive two such respected awards, which are hopefully the first of many, because the course is going to get even better as it settles and matures. We’re looking forward to welcoming golfers from all over the world.”

Situated one hour south of Lisbon, the layout has been created over 84 hectares of natural, sandy terrain on the coast in a secluded setting on the edge of the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve. The first course to have been created in mainland Europe by acclaimed architect David McLay-Kidd, the course opened to the public for play for the first time at the start of June.

McLay-Kidd, whose other famous designs include Bandon Dunes, Queenwood, Beaverbrook, Machrihanish Dunes and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, first visited the site in 2008, but the project experienced a series of delays, including a global pandemic and a worldwide recession. However, Vanguard Properties, the owners of Terras da Comporta, are optimistic about what the future holds and Portugal’s largest real estate developer has exciting plans for the site.

“The project may have a long history, but this is just the beginning”, said José Cardoso Botelho, CEO of Vanguard Properties. “Golfers will travel from far and wide to come and play here. It has put Terras da Comporta firmly on the map as a new golf destination, but there’s more to come – much more”.

Vanguard Properties took ownership of the development in 2019 and the site features two large developments: Torre, comprising 365 hectares of land and where a second course designed by Sergio Garcia and José María Olazábal is being built (set to follow in 2025), and Dunas, which occupies around 1,011 hectares.

Complementing The Dunas Course will be a new clubhouse and golf academy. Away from the fairways, an array of lifestyle activities will be available including horse-riding, wellness, tennis, padel, pickleball and many other sports, with a wide range of plots for hotels, tourist and residential condominiums also on offer.
Press release written and distributed for Terras da Comporta by Azalea


Pleasure, culture and golf courses at their best in Italy’s leading golf region

Exquisite truffles, the best chocolate and fine wines

Just thinking about the great white truffles from Alba, the full-bodied red wines Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco or the finest chocolates from Turin makes my mouth water. The region is also known far beyond its borders for its rice and diverse cheeses, and the merest thought of its culinary delights make the hearts of gourmets beat just that little bit faster.

Finest white truffles from Alba (Photo:

An impressive 46 Michelin-starred restaurants pamper the palates of their guests. Cafés serve the popular Bicerin, the sweet and tart chocolate coffee drink. Turin, the city of Vermouth, the nut chocolate praline Gandujotti and the popular breadsticks Grissini, attracts hundreds of thousands every year. And we have Turin to thank for Vitello Tonnato as well as ice cream on a stick, which was first made here with a vanilla flavour and a coated layer of chocolate. The popular nut nougat cream also comes from Piedmont and was invented by Turin confectioner Pietro Ferrero in 1946.

Italy moves into the global golf spotlight

Italy is attracting attention not only because of the Ryder Cup taking place in Rome this year, but also because of great golf courses in the rest of the country. The recognized industry website ‘Top 100 Golf Courses’ recently rated the 60 best courses in Italy.

Almost half of the top 20 courses are located in Piedmont, which is known for its breathtaking landscapes, from the foot of the majestic Alps in the north to the rolling hills in the south, and mo fewer than four have made it into the top 10.

With its 51 golf courses and 15 driving ranges of the 240 golf facilities nationwide, Piedmont ranks second among all regions. Golf here dates back to 1898, when the Couturbier Golf Course in Navara was founded and was one of the only two Italian courses at the time.

Impressive Alpine scenery

If you are flying into Milan from Malpensa airport or travelling from Lake Maggiore, the two par-72 courses of Circolo Golf Bogogno designed by Robert Von Hagge, Mike Smelek and Rick Baril are the perfect start to your golf adventure through Piedmont. They are situated in a magnificent landscape and offer fantastic views of the mountains towering in the background.

Bogogno Golf Resort (Photo: Azalea Group)

The Del Conte Course (rank 18) is a par-72 course and bristles with links character. It is characterised by wide, open landing zones, various flat sections, large lakes and dense rough, and is embedded in the magnificent backdrop of the Monte Rosa peaks.

The Bonora Course (rank 16) is also a par 72 but is more parkland in design and weaves through the expansive hilly landscape of the nature park, surrounded by old trees and criss-crossed by pristine streams.

They are part of the Bogogno Golf Resort, which is situated at an altitude of 320 m above sea level. It offers 50 spacious, sunny rooms equipped with all amenities. Some of them have a balcony or terrace and large windows overlooking the swimming pool and the greens. The modern SPA and the Rooftop Bar invite you to relax.

From here, a trip to one of the many lakes in Piedmont is not to be missed and is highly recommended.

Stroll through Orta San Giulio

After a half-hour drive from the resort, you reach the idyllic village of Orta San Giulio on the eastern shore of Lake Orta and its well-preserved medieval houses. It is one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful places in Italy). The 16th-century town hall, which is well worth seeing, is located on the Piazza Mario Motta in the historic centre of the town, which is surrounded by magnificent, partly Baroque palazzi.

San Giulio and Isola San Giulio (Photo:

The short boat trip across the calm lake to the Isola di San Giulio is also worthwhile. A stroll through the cobbled streets to the Roman Catholic basilica with its magnificent Romanesque pulpit and the bishop’s palace rounds off the trip nicely. At the numerous Piedmontese lakes, including Lake Maggiore, a total of 70 bathing beaches invite you to take a dip in the calm, cool water.

From here, head southwest to Biella, home to number two in the aforementioned golf-course ranking.

Biella Le Betulle Golf Club

The golf club “Le Betulle” was founded in 1957. Nestled in a splendid natural landscape with dense forests of centuries-old beech, birch (Le Betulle) and chestnut trees, it is situated at an altitude of 590 m just a few kilometres from Biella and Ivrea. Its views of the Serra moraine hill with the Alps behind are extremely imposing.

The 18-hole championship course, a par-73 parkland layout, was designed by the English architect John Morrison and has been considered one of the best courses in Italy for decades. It is considered the course with the most typical English design in Italy and rolls through the hilly terrain, over bridges and gorges and past rocky cliffs.

Golf Club Biella #16 (Photo: Azalea Group)

Royal Park I Roveri

Founded in 1971 by the Agnelli family (co-founders of FIAT), the club is set in beautiful surroundings in the La Mandria nature reserve. It is surrounded by the Turin mountains, which magically attract the gaze of golfers. The club has always been one of the most exclusive in Italy. Several international tournaments, such as the Italian Open, the European Amateur Championship and the European Young Masters, have already been held here.

Golf Club Royal Park I Roveri (Photo: Azalea Group)

The Allianz Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior, is characterised by its great arrangement of bunkers, water hazards and large undulating greens. Its old trees also make it extremely visually appealing.

The second course, the Allianz Bank Course, was designed in 2006 and is the work of US architect Michael Hurdzan. He is one of the leading golf course architects in North America and speaks internationally on the subject of the environmental impact of golf. The collaboration was with Dana Fry.

It is his first course designed in Europe, where he brought his philosophy of harmonising the pristine natural landscape with the course. The course is relatively flat, open and with fewer trees. Numerous ponds and bunkers present its greatest challenges.

The Edoardo Molinari Golf Academy, founded by former European Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari in 2019, completes the extensive golf offer.

Circolo Golf Torino (La Mandria)

In the immediate vicinity of Royal Park I Roveri is the Torino Golf Club with its two 18-hole championship courses. The Blue Course and the Yellow Course are also located in the beautiful natural park of La Mandria. Originally founded in 1924, the club later moved here to the former game reserve of the Royal House of Savoy, where the famous Reggia di Venaria Reale palace is also located.

The uniqueness of the club is the location of the courses in its natural surroundings. Here one encounters untouched nature at its purest. You will look in vain for roads and buildings. Environmental protection and sustainability are very important to the club management. Proof of this is the Impegnati nel Verde prize awarded by the Italian Golf Federation in cooperation with the Istituto per il Credito Sportivo to promote the ecologically sustainable development of golf and to raise awareness of environmental issues among clubs and players.

Englishman John Morrison designed the original Blue Course in 1956, which now ranks sixth in the current Top 100 ranking. Some time later, the 18-hole Yellow Course was added. A number of holes were adjusted at the end of 1990 with the involvement of architects Marco Conze and Canadian Graham Cook in preparation for the 1999 Italian Open. The originally flat course received some mounding. In 2013 and 2014, the Italian Open was again held on the Blue Course.

Both courses are classic parkland designs, which today lead over slightly hilly terrain and are designed with many trees, bunkers and water hazards. The bunkers and greens, on the other hand, are flat.

Green of #1 CG Torino (Photo: Azalea Group)

Reside nobly

An ideal base for playing the four courses of the Royal Park I Roveri and the Circolo Golf Torino is the romantic four-star Relais Bella Rosina Pool & Spa. It has been completely renovated and is also located in complete tranquility in the natural park of La Mandria.

Each of the 21 rooms is bright and spacious. Guests can choose between deluxe rooms, junior suites and suites. The rooms and suites overlook Bella Rosina’s large, heated pool and park.

Bella Rosina Pool & Spa (Photo: Relais)

It takes just over half an hour to reach the centre of Turin, which of course cannot be missed on a trip to Piedmont. The small, charming four-star Hotel Victoria & Iside Spa, with a beautiful courtyard, is located in its centre, within easy reach of the sights.

Rich culture and elegant architecture

Not only gourmets, but also culture and architecture lovers will find their taste here. Turin, the first capital of Italy and the todays capital of Piedmont, is impressive with its many baroque buildings, palaces, basilicas and monasteries.

Some of the city’s highlights are the Shroud of Turin, in which Jesus Christ was wrapped in the tomb and which is now kept in Turin Cathedral, the Egyptian Museum, the monumental Mole Antonelliana building, which is the city’s landmark with its soaring spire.

Also worth seeing are the elegant Piedmontese Royal Residence and the Galleria Sabauda, where numerous masterpieces by great European artists are on display.

Piedmont whets the appetite for grandiose nature, rich culture, culinary delights and star-studded golf courses. Via per il Piemonte.

Juergen Linnenbuerger

Cologne, June 2023


True Links Golf at its best in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Where it all began

Links golf courses exude a fascination for me that has stayed with me ever since I first got to know them. Now the time has finally come to travel to the country where our passion originated. As there is no direct flight to Aberdeen, we first take the plane to Edinburgh. From here we take a rental car and drive relaxed on the well-developed motorway with a maximum of 70 miles to the north-east of the country. 

The region of Aberdeenshire is slightly larger than Muensterland in Germany and has about 250,000 inhabitants. There are about fifty golf courses. We will concentrate on three top courses during our one-week tour, because we want to get to know as many highlights of the region as possible in addition to golfing.

Manor house from 1225

As our first accommodation we choose the picturesque situated Maryculter House Hotel, which lies a little southwest of Aberdeen, towards Royal Deeside. The River Dee, which flows into the North Sea in Aberdeen Harbour, runs directly past it.

Gemütlich und authentisch: Maryculter House Hotel (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Cozy and authentic: Maryculter House Hotel (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The manor house has its origins in the 13th century. It is a former domicile of the Knights of the Order of the Temple, stylishly furnished and with wooden panelling and beamed ceilings. The Knights’ Hall and the bar invite you to linger. Our Classic River View room in traditional style is comfortably furnished and offers a great view of the Peterculter Golf Club on the other side of the river.

After a delicious breakfast with fruit, yoghurt, porridge and scrambled eggs with Scottish salmon, we explore the west and south of the region. 

We drive through the scenically impressive Cairngorms National Park with its heather-covered plateaus, numerous raised bogs and forests. We make our first stop in the pretty village of Ballater. 

God save the Queen and the King

We continue to the most famous castle in the region, Balmoral Castle. It is the summer residence of the British royal family. Elizabeth II stayed here between August and October, where she also died in September 2022. In the only room open to visitors, the ballroom, exhibits and photos of the royals are on display.

Königliche Residenz: Balmoral Castle (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Royal residence: Balmoral Castle (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Actually we want to visit the nearby Braemar Castle, but unfortunately it is closed for renovation. So we drive south-east to Lochton & Leys Farm. Here we meet about 250 specimens of the typical Highland beef breed with their distinctive pony and learn interesting facts about the animals and their breeding from the owner.

Eine besondere Rasse: Die schottischen Hochland-Rinder (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
A special breed: The Scottish Highland Cattle (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

We continue to the coast to Stonehaven, a worthwhile little town with a beautiful long beach and a typical small fishing harbour.

Nearby, the most sought-after photo motif in Aberdeenshire is enthroned on the cliffs. Surrounded on three sides by water, the ruins of Dunnottar Castle captivate thousands of visitors every year. We can understand why and can’t get enough of it.

Hoch auf den Felsen und von Meer umgeben: Dunnottar Castle (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
High on the cliffs and surrounded by sea: Dunnottar Castle (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Eighth-oldest golf course in the world

Then, finally, golf is on the agenda. The Aberdeen Golf Club was founded in 1780 and is a links as it is written in the book. From the venerable clubhouse with its impressive ancestral gallery, the members enjoy their food and drinks directly in front of the first tee of the championship Balgownie Course, which also hosted the Scottish Open 2014.

Separated only by the thin pane of glass, we are not impressed by this and play our drives towards the sea. In front of us are several ships waiting to enter Aberdeen Harbour.

Erster Abschlag im Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
First tee at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Together with the numerous wind turbines in the North Sea, they form the typical backdrop for the course. From the second hole, the front nine runs through the hilly dune landscape directly along the sea, whose holes are considered by many to be among the most beautiful of their kind. It leads to the furthest point of the course away from the clubhouse and back from there slightly above it in parallel. The ten bunkers on the eight have a magical attraction.

Bemerkenswerte Front Nine und das von zehn Bunkern geschützte Grün der Acht (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Remarkable front nine and the green of the eight protected by ten bunkers (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

While the narrow fairways and the rough on the front nine make life difficult for us, on the back nine it is the mercilessly head-on wind. Although I follow the recommendation of the starter and tee off from red, I am on the verge of giving up. But I hold out until the end and, although I am completely exhausted, I am highly satisfied with this unique golfing experience.

Eine echte Herausforderung: Bunker am 18. Grün (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
A real challenge: bunkers at the 18th green (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

This is not changed by the fact that I end up in the huge bunker on the 18th below the clubhouse and have trouble getting out of it.

Murcar Links Golf Club

The next day we get to know another great old-fashioned links, the Murcar Links, founded in 1909. It borders directly on the Royal Aberdeen at its southern end and is only separated from it by a low fence. Here we can clearly see that climate change has also arrived in Scotland. The drought of the past few weeks has resulted in the fairways being an unusual colour and hard as nails, but still very playable.

Eine sonnige Runde im Murcar Links Golf Club (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
A sunny round at the Murcar Links Golf Club (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The great holes run through the dunes, some right along the sea. Seven is the signature hole and is not called ‘Serpentine’ for a reason.

Hügeliges Terrain mit ungewohnter Einfärbung (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Hilly terrain with unusual coloration (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The course is sportingly challenging and provides us with a wonderful day of golf in the best weather

Several national amateur championships and international professional tournaments have already been held here.

Seals within reach

After the round we head north. After a short while we come to Newburgh, where the Seals sign catches our eye. We pass the entrance to Forvie National Nature Reserve, whose car park is right next to Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club. 

We take the short path through the dunes to the mouth of the River Ythan. In the completely deserted bay, we then see black moving dots in the water, which get bigger and bigger as we get closer. Numerous seals are enjoying themselves here and wonder about the strange figures on the beach. We have the impression that they notice us, but do not feel threatened in any way.

Castles like something out of a picture book

Castles worth seeing, such as Fraser, Fyvie, Crathes, Craigievar and Huntly are located on the Castle Trail, along which a total of 19 castles or their ruins can be found. Each one is different and impressive in its own way.

Schlösser wie aus dem Bilderbuch (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Castles like out of a picture book (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Breathtaking and unique

The conclusion of our great links trio is the championship course of Cruden Bay Golf Club, which opened in 1899. Unlike the other two courses, the front and back nine do not run parallel away and back, but in two loops, partly through the huge, high dune landscape.

The warm welcome culture alone impresses us. The original mention by name on the guest board and also the guest gift in the shape and size of a pack of balls delights us. When we want to bring them into play on the round, we can’t help smiling.

Erhöhte Abschläge in herausfordernde Fairways und Grüns (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Elevated tees into challenging fairways and greens (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Only now do we realise that it is not balls, but a small bottle of Specially Selected Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We are happy to say Sláinte Mhath and enjoy the 12-year-old dram. 

Herzlich willkommen im Cruden Bay Golf Club (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Welcome to Cruden Bay Golf Club (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

After that, we swing more loosely, which is necessary on the unusual holes 3-15. Each is an experience in itself. Among our favourites are the 8-10. The eight, a short par 4, has to be played uphill into the high green surrounded by huge dunes. 

Umgeben von hohen Dünen: Grün von Loch 8 (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Surrounded by high dunes: green of hole 8 (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

It continues steeply uphill to the highest point of the course, from where we have a fantastic view of one side of the course and the completely deserted bay.

The ruins of Slain Castle tower in the background. You can’t get more Scottish than that.

Slains Castle auf den Klippen über der Cruden Bay (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Slains Castle on the cliffs above Cruden Bay (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Turning around, we look from the tee of the nine across the other side of the course, also along the bay. The tee shot has to be played downhill over a deep ravine.

The ten is also a challenge. Here it’s hit and hope, because the landing zone of the tee shot deep below us is not visible. We wish each other good luck, sip the rest of the bottle once more and are glad to find the balls on the fairway after the descent. As a reward, the sun comes out and accompanies us back to the clubhouse.

But before that, we have to play the tee shot of the 15 from a mini-tee box above the low-lying green of the 14 blind through a narrow ravine. But only after the traffic lights have turned green.

Loch 16: Knopf drücken nicht vergessen (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Hole 16: Don’t forget to press the button (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Everything is just right here. The course offers a sporting challenge, a lot of fun and a unique links experience with incredible views. Top100 Golf Courses ranks it 67th in the world, just like the Royal Aberdeen (63rd).

Diversified Aberdeen

From our second domicile, the stylish Chester Hotel, we reach the three golf courses in less than half an hour. The listed original building dates back to the 19th century and now combines traditional style with super-modern design. Our spacious, chic Grand Room offers ample space and a private terrace. Ample parking is available.

Stilvoll, anspruchsvoll und schick (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Stylish, sophisticated and chic (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The great breakfast is topped by the excellent dinner offer. My salmon tartare and steak from the local Angus beef melted in my mouth. The Malbec red wine and the subsequent whisky nightcap in the cool bar round off a wonderful evening.

The next day we take a look around Aberdeen. We are particularly impressed by the modern Art Gallery, Provost Skene’s House and the buildings of Kings College and Aberdeen University in Old Aberdeen.

Das 1495 gegründete Kings College ist Teil der Universität von Aberdeen (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Founded in 1495, Kings College is part of the University of Aberdeen (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Since the weather gods continue to be kind to us, we also go to the beach. We haven’t had to use our rain gear all week and the thermometer even rises to 30 degrees Celsius.

At the end of the Esplanade, we reach the former fishing village of Footdee, which lies directly at the entrance and exit of Aberdeen Harbour. The original small fishing cottages have been lovingly restored by the current owners and now attract many tourists.

Idylle pur: ehemalige Fischerhäuschen in Footdee (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
Idyll pure: former fishermen’s cottages in Footdee (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

At the far end of the harbour pier is the popular seafood restaurant Silver Darling. Here, on the last evening of our trip, we enjoy the sunset not only with delicious oysters, mussels and freshly caught fish, but also watch the passing of the incoming and outgoing freighters with the same curiosity as the dolphins jumping in the bay.

The end of a wonderful trip to the north-east of Scotland could not be more beautiful.

The Silver Darling - eines der führenden Restaurants in Aberdeen (Foto: Jürgen Linnebürger)
The Silver Darling – one of the leading restaurants in Aberdeen (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)
Europe Travel

Impressive culture and varied golfing in Sicily

Five-star resort directly by the sea

From the capital Palermo, we set out to take a closer look at three very different golf resorts. First, we head to the southwest of the island. Here we find the luxurious five-star Verdura Golf Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel, which extends over an area of 230 hectares. The view of the surrounding hills and the directly adjacent Mediterranean Sea are impressive. 

Overview of the extensive grounds. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

If you travel by car, you park your vehicle in the car park after passing through the entrance area and then use golf carts or bicycles to cover the sometimes large distances between the facilities. The architecture of the buildings is characterised by straight lines. Stone, wood and sugar cane lend them a naturalness. 

The resort has 203 rooms and suites and 20 new private villas. My modern and tastefully furnished Deluxe Room offers plenty of space and has a great view over the terrace to the sea.

Spacious and modern furnished Deluxe Room with Sea View. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Internationally recognised and a leader in the golf business for over three decades, Donato di Ponziano has recently taken over as the resort’s Golf Development Manager. He gives us a comprehensive overview of the resort and its goals. With his equally experienced Golf Manager Allessandro Mario Cardini, who takes up his position on the day of our visit, he wants to establish the current number one resort in Italy among the leading international ones.

Golf at its best on 45 holes

Originally created about 10 years ago, the championship golf courses were redesigned by US golf course architect Kyle Phillips after the course was flooded in 2019. In 2021, the East Course was reopened. Today, it shines in new splendour as a par 73 with a length of 6,763 metres. Its left character has also convinced the golf media. In 2022, it was rated Italy’s number 1 by Golf World Top 100.

In particular, its holes 5, 6 and 7, 12 and 13, with direct access to the sea, have taken my fancy.

Teebox of Hole 5 of East Course. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

If you stay on the fairways, the course is to manage despite its length. If you stray off the fairways and land in the current deep rough, your score is ruined, because searching in the rough makes no sense. The snow-white bunkers are just as convincing as the fast but fair greens.

The West Course is a par 70 course with a length of 6,547 metres. Its holes are much hillier and narrower. They first lead inland, past olive trees and lemon groves. It is more like a parkland course on this part, but this changes from the 14th hole onwards. From here on, the remaining holes meander along the bright blue sea until the end and offer spectacular views.

View from the Clubhouse to Hole 18 of the West Course. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

A 9-hole par 3 executive course and a well-equipped academy perfectly round off the golfing offer. The resort is an official partner of the PGA of Germany.

The elegant 4,000-square-metre Irene Forte Spa has several outdoor thalasso pools, an indoor pool, a hammam and a Finnish sauna. Sports activities include tennis courts, football pitches and various water sports.

Guests are treated to Mediterranean dishes, fresh fish and seafood as well as high-quality wines in four different restaurants and five bars. The linguine pasta with lobster served in the main Zagara restaurant is just as exceptional as the spaghetti in garlic oil with tuna eggs.

Valley of the Temples

Temple of Hera Lacinia (Temple of Juno) in Agrigento. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

From the resort, we head east across the island to Syracuse. After about 40 km we stop in Agrigento, which is famous for its well-preserved Greek and Roman temples. We visit the archaeological sites of the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) with the Roman Temple of Hera (Juno) and the Temple of Concordia, one of the best-preserved Greek temples of antiquity. These represent only a small part of the vast array of former architecture spread across the island.

Sightseeing Syracuse

After another 2.5 hour drive, we reach Syracuse in the southeast of the island. The port city is the birthplace of Archimedes and is known for its numerous historical and cultural sights. Our guided tour takes us to the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Diana and the imposing, gleaming white Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Colonne in the Piazza del Duomo. It impresses with its baroque façade and open staircase.  

In the narrow, atmospheric alleys of the old town, we come across a multitude of pubs, restaurants and shops, which also sell the colourful mosaic figures famous for the region.

Former Benedictine monastery in an idyllic setting

We also encounter these figures at our next accommodation, the stylish five-star Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort, to which the I Monasteri Golf Club is attached. It is located not far from Syracuse in complete tranquillity and is surrounded by palm, citrus and olive trees.

Left: Entrance of Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort, Right: Bar of Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort (Photos: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Various Sicilian noble families were among the owners. Even today, you can feel the special charm of the glamorous past. I am particularly impressed by the lobby, the bar and restaurants with their round arches, high ceilings and the artistic ceramic figures that always catch my eye. 

The 102 rooms and suites are spread over three buildings and are all on ground level. My superior double room with veranda and views of the golf course is at the back of the resort and is decorated in a contemporary style. 

Ceramic figures typical for the Syracuse region. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The resort has a large spa, an outdoor pool and a jacuzzi.

The par 71 course has a length of 6,520 metres. It opened in 2012 and is set in 86 hectares of lemon trees and prickly pears. Its 18 holes with parkland character run around the former monastery through the flat terrain. Several water hazards add to the charm of the course, as on holes 9 -12 and on 18, which are among its highlights.

9th (left) and 18th green of I Monasteri Golf Club. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The fairways, bunkers and greens are in good condition. It would be desirable if the driving range and tee boxes could follow suit.

Golf, relaxation and enjoyment on the northern slopes of Mount Etna

We finish our golf tour at the four-star Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa, located in the midst of complete peace and nature. It is located 650 metres above sea level in the east of the island at the foot of Europe’s largest active volcano in the Parco dell’Etna regional park, halfway between Syracuse and Catania. 

Hotel with pool and surrounding vines. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Because of the altitude, the temperatures here are lower than on the coast and can be easily endured even on hot summer days. It is beautifully nestled between vines and orchards.

The owners, two sympathetic Sicilian brothers with Swiss roots, explain to us that they first acquired the driving range in 2021. Later, the golf course and the hotel right next to it followed. The goal is to develop this into a 4.5-5 star top golf and holiday destination in the next four years. The first steps have already been taken. At the moment, the technology is being brought up to date and, among other things, a solar system is being installed. The next step will be to modernise the rooms.

My spacious Etna Room offers great views over the vines to the volcano towering in the distance.

The 900-square-metre wellness centre with spa, fitness room, sauna and indoor pool invite you to relax, as does the outdoor pool with large sun terrace.

In the hotel’s main restaurant and the clubhouse, our palates are spoiled with traditional Sicilian cuisine and fine wines from the region. 

The huge clubhouse, which houses a few rooms, has also undergone renovation. Large parts, such as the pro shop with the bar, already impress with their modern ambience. 

Well-kept parkland course with spectacular views

The modernisation also affects the golf course. The fairways and partly huge greens are in top condition. At the moment, the bunkers are being reworked. Some of them already have gleaming white sand. The rest will follow shortly.

Well maintained fairways, greens and bunkers. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The 18-hole parkland course is the oldest on the island. It was built in the eighties of the last century. Between 1995 and 2011, it hosted several renowned tournaments.

Again and again great views of Mount Etna. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

It winds its way through the extremely hilly terrain, constantly uphill and downhill, past dense tree population. Again and again, Mount Etna towers in the background. If the weather or the rising smoke allow it, you can enjoy the magnificent view all the way to the top of the 3,357 m high volcano. If you want to admire it up close, you can also book a helicopter flight through the resort.

Dense tree cover throughout the entire course. (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The layout is very appealing and the courses vary. A special feature is that the par 72 course has five par 5s and par 3s in addition to eight par 4s. Its length is 5,870 m. The use of the driver should be well considered because the holes require a tactical game. Precision is required here. The course is extremely well maintained and is a great pleasure to play.

The club has an academy with the latest technical equipment and experienced PGA professionals who, among other things, successfully dedicate themselves to youth work and see this as a focal point of their activities.

You can tell that the entire golf and hotel team enjoys their work. Everyone is enthusiastic and always smiling, and they transfer this good mood to the guests. First and foremost the Golf Marketing Manager Guy Roberts, who speaks excellent German and is thus able to converse perfectly with the currently largest group of foreign golf guests of the resort in their mother tongue.

Introduction to Sicilian wines

A visit to the resort cannot be complete without a tasting of the many wines grown in the area, as Sicilian ones are now among the leading in Italy. The informative tour and subsequent tasting at the I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna Winery round off an enjoyable trip across a culturally and golfing inspiring island, superbly organised by the English AZALEA Group. Grazie mille per i giorni perfetti.

Juergen Linnenbuerger

Cologne, June 2023


Piemonte dominates new Italian golf course ranking

The Region of Piemonte has been singled out as the number one place to play golf in Italy by a respected new industry ranking with four of the top ten venues in the updated list including the new number one, Royal Park I Roveri.

The Robert Trent Jones Sr course near Turin features at the summit of the latest poll of Top 100 Golf Courses website’s latest list of the ‘Top 60 Courses in Italy’.

Vast array of quality golf courses

Piemonte was well represented throughout the ranking with number two venue Golf Club Biella, Circolo Golf Torino (number six) and Golf Club Castelconturbia (number seven) all featuring in the top ten – highlighting the vast array of quality courses that await golfers across the region.

Both Robert Von Hagge-designed courses at Circolo Golf Bogogno, Del Conte and Bonora, also appear in the top 20, making Piemonte one of the most popular regions on the list with a total of nine entries. Those include the Allianz Bank course, which sits adjacent to the Trent Jones Sr course at Royal Park I Roveri and was designed by Michael Hurzdan and Dana Fry.

Announcing their verdict, the Top 100 panel said: “This is a big year for golf in Italy. Our new number one is a layout that has never been out of the top-three ranking positions in any of the Italian charts published so far. Indeed, it is a former number one so sitting on the summit is nothing new at this location.”

Piemonte: The perfect place for the next golf trip

Vittoria Poggio, assessor for tourism, culture and commerce at the Regione Piemonte, said: “Piemonte is rightly famous for many things, but so many people still don’t know that it’s one of the best places in Europe to come and play golf.

“For so many of our courses to be recognised on a prestigious list like this one is evidence of what we have to offer in Piemonte. Any golfers looking for a course to play here will always be spoiled for choice.”

Piemonte enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of the best places in Europe to play golf. Courses designed by some of history’s most revered architects, including Robert Trent Jones Snr and Von Hagge, make full use of Italy’s incredible scenery and famous mountain skyline.

Away from the fairways, golfers can enjoy a plethora of historical, cultural and gastronomic attractions in and around the region’s capital, Turin, including a choice of 45 Michelin-star restaurants.

(Text: The Azalea Group)

Europe Travel

La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort – the new highlight on Andalusia’s Costa del Sol

Ambitious for the future

The US Millenium Hospitality Group has big goals. With La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, it wants to become one of the leading and most luxurious golf resorts in Spain. It has entrusted this task to the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Group, which is one of the most renowned luxury hotel brands worldwide.

The first steps have already been taken. The golf course, previously known as ‘Alcaidesa’, was rebuilt at a multi-million dollar cost and shines in a complete new splendour. The new, stylish clubhouse with its cool restaurant and the extraordinary beach club are already in place. The same goes for the huge driving range with new grass tees and the large putting, pitching and chipping area. Added to this is the already existing 18-hole Heathland Golf Course, so that the resort has two completely different golf courses.

By Easter 2024, a five-star hotel complex comprising 153 exclusive rooms and 51 villas is to be built on an area of 400 hectares.  Several more villas, all with private pools, will be available for purchase. Various restaurants and bars will be part of the complex as well as swimming pools, a spa and fitness centre and event facilities. A halfway house is under construction on the newly designed links course.

Millenium’s plan to become the flagship in Southern Europe with the resort seems to be working, because they have already been accepted as a member of the European Tour Destinations and are happy about this seal of quality.

All in white

As soon as you enter the white clubhouse of La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, shining in the sun, you sense something special. The arc of tension is slowly built up, starting on the steps to the entrance. It continues as you cross the huge entrance hall and ends in front of an infinity pool with a view of the Mediterranean.

Unique: infinity pool at the clubhouse Terrasse (Photo: La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort)

The modern pro shop offers everything you need on a round. The rental clubs are of the best quality. The first tees of the two courses are in opposite directions. We first play the Heathland Course, which leads into the hinterland.

The Heathland Course

The 18-hole Heathland Course was designed by former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas. The par-72 layout has a length of 6,373 m from the back tees and features different landscapes. While holes 1 to 5 and 17 and 18 are located on a plateau and resemble a heath landscape, the other courses wind their way down into the valley with magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea, where several water hazards await.

This is also the case at the 13th, a par-5, where the tee shot has to be hit well in order not to land in the water hazard crossing the course head-on.

Challenging Par-5 on the Heathland Course (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Due to the sometimes considerable distances between the individual holes and the considerable differences in altitude, a buggy is highly recommended. Some of these are brand new and of course equipped with GPS.

Unique Links Golf Course

The next day we played the only links course in southern Spain. The origin of the course dates back to 1992 and was designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. Its current redesign is due to the US-American Kurtis Bowman, who redesigned all greens and added several bunkers. The course was only opened this summer but is already in great condition.

The par-72 course has a sensational layout and is suitable for all handicappers. The course is teed off from four tees. Players with a handicap of less than nine are recommended to use the white tees. The course then has a length of 5,841 m. At the moment, there is no table of playing conditions. I play off the yellows and am looking forward to the 5.5 km journey ahead of me. I know of no other course in Spain that offers such sensational views. The Rock of Gibraltar, which is clearly visible on a clear day, keeps attracting attention on various courses and distracts from the game. We are lucky with the weather and after a short initial rainfall, we enjoy the sunshine on the rest of the round.

Tee off to enjoy (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The varied courses, the constant ups and downs and the great views over the course make the round of golf an unforgettable experience. Everything is extremely well-maintained and also perfectly matched visually.

The water hazards are impressively designed and interrupt the different shades of green of tees, fairways and greens with their brilliant blue. The course is not only great to play, but also meets the highest aesthetic standards. Some holes run directly along the sea.

Everything at its best (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Development is already encroaching on some of the holes. This will increase further with the Fairmont Hotel La Hacienda, which is being built in terraces level with the back end of the beach with the best views across the course to the sea.

Directly along the beach (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The palate will also be pampered

What could be better than finishing off a successful round of golf with a great meal and special drinks? The fact that this is possible at the resort is thanks to the Azotea Group. Behind it are the journalist Cristina Lasvignes and her husband José Manuel García. Among other things, they have founded various restaurants and bars in Spain under the Sal Verde brand that meet the highest standards.

Attractive location above the golf course (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

These include the Clubhouse Restaurant as well as the Arena Bar in the Beach Club, which is located directly below the golf course. Both combine a great ambience, the highest quality and outstanding creativity.

Arena bar at the beach club (Photo: Azalea)

Exceptional dishes and creative cocktails are created by the Michelin-starred Executive Chef Manuel Berganza and the renowned mixologist Luca Anastasio. The latter plays a special role in Sal Verde’s concept, because high-quality cocktails play an essential role in Sal Verde’s gastronomy concept.

Spectacular from the air as well (Photo: James Hogg)

Those who have a choice are spoilt for choice. Either you choose the Spicy Moscow Mule, the Senorita Margarita, the Amalfi Ten Tonic, the Galan or Paloma, or you try them all. With one exception, they were all new to me and impressed me as much as the menus of the latest Spanish star chef. The tuna tartare, popular in Andalusia, served here with truffles and spring onion dressing, melted in my mouth just as much as the mussels au gratin with spicy tomato sauce, to name just two of the various delicacies tasted.

As the Fairmont accommodation is still under construction, we are staying at the Aldiana Club near the golf courses while we get to know the new resort.

Adiós Aldiana Andalusia

The sun still rises every morning over the Aldiana Club Costa del Sol in Alcaidesa. But this will come to an end on 21 November 2022, because the resort will soon change hands. After the planned renovation, it will be called Sun Club Costa del Sol from next year and will continue as a four-star hotel under a new flag.

Sunrise at Aldiana Alcaidesa (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The current all-inclusive concept will then be replaced by an offer that includes a choice of breakfast, half board or full board. It remains to be seen whether the great barbecue in the beach restaurant, which is still part of the club, will be offered.

I enjoyed the freshly prepared Andalusian specialities and especially the extremely spicy chorizo sausages. These remain in my positive memory as well as the varied and high-quality offer in the entire club. The well-maintained facilities and the friendliness and attentiveness of all the staff contributed in equal measure to my feeling of well-being during my stay. Not to forget the bright and clean room with the extremely comfortable bed.

Spicy and extremely delicious (Photo Juergen Linnenbuerger)

I am convinced that the Millenium/Fairmont concept will work out and that their guests will be delighted with the high-quality offer. I already am and look forward to another round on one of the most impressive golf courses in southern Europe. Hasta luego. 


Golf tradition meets modern art in the Belgian seaside resort of Knokke

The beginnings of today’s Royal Zoute Golf Club date back to 1899, when golf was first played in Knocke-sur-Mer (French name). The Flemish name of the place is Knokke-Heist. At first, it was part of the golf and sports club in nearby Bruges but then in 1909, the clubs parted ways and the Knocke Golf Club was founded.
From the beginning, the club was strongly influenced by the English. Both its first captains and its course architect came from the British Isles whilst in 1907, it was redesigned by the famous Brit Harry Colt, who at the beginning of the 20th century designed not only some world-famous golf
courses in England, but also in continental Europe. In Germany, too, he has left his mark on several clubs: the Hamburger Golf Club Falkenstein is just as much a part of this as the Frankfurter Golf Club and the Golf- & Landclub Berlin-Wannsee.
After the First World War, when the Germans used the course as a military site, it became necessary to build a new course which was given its present name Zoute Golf Club.
Subsequently, in 1925, it was made a ‘Royal’ by the Belgian King. After the Second World War when the course was occupied by the Germans, the course had to be renovated. The English Lieutenant Colonel Allen designed the layout for two 18-hole links courses, which resulted in today’s par 64 Executive Course and the par 72 Championship Course.
The club hosted a total of six Belgian Opens between 1912 and 2000 when winners included Miguel Angel Jimenez, Darren Clarke, Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood, who won twice (1998 and 2000).

It couldn’t be more central

Entrance to the club buildings (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The various imposing club buildings are placed around a circular courtyard which boasts a huge steel figure sculpture created by one of the most renowned sculptors and conceptual artists of our time, Frenchman Bernar Venet, who is highly acclaimed internationally.

Imposing sculpture in the courtyard (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The complex includes a hotel with ten modern, well-equipped rooms and certainly, the spacious junior suite where we are housed is extremely comfortable. From the balcony, we enjoy the wide view over the restaurant terrace, to the starter’s cottage behind it, the first tees of the two courses and the driving range in the background.

Best view from the hotel room (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The hotel interior is extremely elegant with dark wood that harmoniously complements the modern tiles on the walls and floor that also feature at the reception. The electronic scoreboard provides information on tee times and players on both courses whilst the bar is reminiscent of a traditional English club.

Representative hotel and restaurant entrance (l) Clubhouse bar in traditional style (r) (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Before we turn our attention to the golf courses, we would like to get to know the city. Of course, this includes a walk along the long sandy beach and a stop at one of the numerous beach clubs. In the shopping streets of Zoute, the northernmost district of the seaside resort, we come across numerous boutiques of the finest designer labels and art on virtually every corner. More than 60 galleries alone offer art lovers a rich selection. In addition, there are huge sculptures scattered all over the city.

Objects of art permeate the entire town (Photo: Juergen Linnebuerger)

In case the shopping bags get too heavy, a large electric golf cart is available to chauffeur shoppers through the city’s shopping streets silently and free of charge.

An attractive offer in the centre of Knokke-Heist (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

We round off the first day with a delicious dinner on the clubhouse terrace. The menu is varied and the dishes extremely tasty. The recommended prawn croquettes impress us just as much as the baked sole.

Links and parkland course elements combined

The club is embedded in an untouched, slightly overgrown landscape with pines, hawthorn hedges, birches and poplars. The two pure links courses have been turned into a combination of links and parkland courses due to plantings after the Second World War. Heathland course elements can also be found here, though the courses run largely through flat terrain and light dune landscape.
We start with a round on the 18-hole par 64 ‘Intérieur’ – or Executive – Course. It is a perfect opportunity to practice one’s short game under real conditions.

With its eight par 3 and ten par 4 holes, it has a length of 3,564 meters from yellow tees and 3,261 meters from red tees. The longest hole is 286 meter long whilst the greens are well guarded and have it all. We particularly like hole four, where a group of trees has to be taken on in order to hit the green. Unlike its big brother, this course is also open to non-members at weekends.

Charming fourth hole of the Executive Course (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The Championship Course

The next day, the par 72 “Extérieur” – or Championship – Course, awaits us. From the Championship tees, it has a length of 6,241m so we play from yellow and red tees that give us 5,880 metres and 4,795 metres respectively in front of us. With four exceptions, the holes run along the outer left edge of the terrain. They are lined by old trees, which are repeatedly interrupted by the neighbouring residential houses.

First tee of the Championship Course (Photo: Juergen Linnebuerger)

The first tee offers plenty of space on both sides whilst the next holes are also mentally moderate. The course becomes more attractive from the fifth hole onwards and from there, develops its charm and more and more its links elements come into play. You can see St. Margaret’s Church on
several holes, such as the sixth, the most difficult hole. The par 4 with a length of 363 metres (yellow) is laid out as a dogleg and ends with an ondulated green that rises sharply towards the back.

Challenging green of hole six (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

From the ninth, the links character of the course comes into its own. It does not end at the clubhouse, but in the middle of the course.

Links Feeling on hole nine (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Behind the green, the two courses intersect at the unique halfway station. The thatched cottage and its inviting decoration is just as extraordinary as the delicious, freshly prepared snacks. We liked the avocado mousse with shrimps and the pasta salad with cashews. Anyone who passes by here without stopping in is missing out.

This makes the break a pleasure (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

Relaxed and refreshed, we set off from one of the various elevated tee boxes for the second nine holes. From the green of the tenth, you can see the typical adjacent development, with the tee box of the 11th, an attractive par 3, directly behind it. Its green is well guarded by no less than five bunkers.

Greens and bunkers in perfect condition (Photo: Juergen Linnenbuerger)

The course also has pot bunkers, such as on 16, a slightly downhill par 3 with a length of 145 metres from the yellow tee. Two huge ones await on the left and on the opposite side, it is protected by an even steeper monster.

Pot bunkers at its best (Photo: Juergen Linnebuerger)

The 18th tee is then another challenge. It has to be played from an elevated tee through a narrow alley into the fairway. The course then opens up and ends with a large green in front of the starter’s cottage.
The Championship Course does not have a dull hole and water hazards do not come into play. We like its varied layout and the absolute tranquillity.

Knokke convinces

We enjoyed the trip to the Belgian coast with golf, shopping and art. Two rounds in the best weather on the different courses of the Royal Zoute Golf Club were worth the trip alone. We will gladly repeat them when the course has recovered from the drought of the past months and presents itself in a greener state. Then its real character will certainly come to the fore even more; the quality of the greens and bunkers already convinced us during our first visit.
We are already looking forward to this, as well as to the overnight stay in the beautiful clubhouse, to the great gastronomic offering and to the warm friendliness which we received in all areas in one of the leading Belgian golf clubs. Le Zoute – we will be happy to come back.


Madeira: Palheiro Golf Club – The funky course

The first time you are amazed is before you have even really arrived at the Palheiro Golf Club. From a height of 500 metres, you look down steep cliffs in front of the clubhouse to Funchal, the capital of the Madeira archipelago. Behind the clubhouse, you are immediately amazed again, because the course goes steep uphill to the first green. There are a few surprises in the course of the round. The 18-hole course cannot be pigeonholed.

There are too many very different holes for that. The fairways are mostly relatively wide, but on some of them the landing zones from the tee are still very small due to the slopes. On others, you can only guess where to hit without knowing the course. Wooden stakes do help with orientation, but if you keep your ball within sight with an iron off the tee, you are certainly not at a disadvantage compared to driving into the unknown. At least not on the first round at Palheiro Golf Club.

Many different challenges

With improved course knowledge, you can approach the par-72 course quite differently. The first time, however, you need to make smart decisions. The length of the course is not a difficulty for any skill level. But those who miss fairways or greens will run into problems. This is not least due to the nature of the terrain. Cliffs, steep slopes and deep valleys are just waiting for a ball to miss the target – even if it is only half a metre.

However, the Cabell B. Robinson design is never unfair. Rather, the challenge is to adapt to the ever-changing challenges. On one of the high plateaus it can be very windy, on the next hole you need a good feeling for the length of your shots for the height difference between tee and green. In some other places, strategically placed trees form the biggest obstacle. Some greens are surrounded by bunkers. You never know exactly what’s coming next. But even on the greens you are not safe. Partially heavily ondulated and difficult to read, the putting surface sells for as much as the rest of the course.

At the moment, one still looks in vain for a driving range at the Palheiro Golf Club. While a short game training facility and practice greens are already in place, the range is still under construction. In general, a lot is happening at the club in the south of Madeira. All greens were renovated during the Corona pandemic. The first roughs have already been changed to a more water-efficient type of grass. More are to follow to make the entire club even more sustainable. However, irrigation is already done exclusively with rainwater.

Palheiro Golf Club (Photo: Azalea Group)

Unconventional and a dream for the eye

Unconventional is probably the simplest description of the Palheiro Golf Club. In positive terms, you could call it varied. Those who don’t enjoy it would probably criticise the lack of a clear line in the layout. However, no one will complain about the wide views over the sea that open up again and again. The fantastic view down to Funchal is also offered in several places on the course. Thanks to the subtropical vegetation, for which Madeira is famous, you get a real holiday feeling. But since everything here has its contrast, you also play your way past the island’s prison in the course of the round.

The topography of the course almost “screams” for a cart, but the terrain can also be mastered with a trolley. Only those who are absolutely physically fit should carry their bag. If you opt for a buggy (45 euros), this will spare your muscles, but you should keep your concentration on the sometimes rutted cart paths.

Palheiro Golf Club (Photo: Azalea Group)

One of the most beautiful spots in Madeira

On the club’s terrace, you can enjoy the excellent cuisine and the view over Funchal and the sea. Mediterranean dishes “with an oriental touch” are served by the neighbouring Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro, which runs the restaurant. Fish and seafood here are fresh and regional. Around a dozen desserts sweeten the memory, especially the Pastéis de Nata, for which Portugal is world-famous, should not be missed. The club terrace is definitely one of the most beautiful spots in Madeira.

The clubs terrace and its stunning view across Funchal. (Photo: Azalea Group)

Europe Travel

Madeira: The flower island becomes a golf island

Many golfers know that a golfing paradise lies off the west coast of Africa. Too few, however, know that Madeira is one of them. The archipelago, which lies about 500 kilometres north of the Canary Islands, is only just learning to understand itself as a golf destination. Yet the autonomous region of Portugal has no need to hide at all. The climate is pleasant all year round (although it can be hot in summer), the vegetation is impressive and with three golf courses there is enough variety for a golf holiday. Especially as each of the three clubs has its own characteristics. There are also hotels to suit every taste and standard. Tourists of other sports have been here for many years. Bikers, surfers and hikers have long since discovered the main island of Madeira for themselves. On the golf courses, on the other hand, there are still many free tee times. This is probably one of the reasons why you play more relaxed rounds at Palheiro Golf Club, Santo da Serra Golf or Porto Santo Golf on the neighbouring island than further south.

Fulfil all five senses

In terms of landscape and vegetation, a comparison with the Spanish neighbours is also obvious. And here, only the northern half of Gran Canaria comes close. On Madeira, “something” is always in bloom; it’s no coincidence that it’s also called the flower island. The rugged volcanic rocks that stretch like fans from the centre of the island to the coast are also covered with lush green vegetation in many places on the southern slopes. While it often rains in the north, from which the south of the island also benefits in a sustainable way thanks to the irrigation canals, the weather situation on the two golf courses in the west is usually very stable.

Santo de Serra Golf – The sporting flagship

Santo da Serra Golf is located directly above the airport, which bears the name of the island’s most famous son – Christiano Ronaldo. The 27-hole course with over 80 years of tradition is the sporting flagship. Between 1993 and 2008 and later from 2012 to 2015, the Madeira Island Open on the European Tour took place here. It is not only the tour players who enjoy the spectacular panoramas of the green slopes opposite, across deep valleys and the views of the open sea at Santo de Serra Golf. Of course, given the topographical conditions, there are certain differences in altitude to be overcome on the course. At the Palheiro Golf Club, only a few kilometres away, the slopes are much steeper. The holes of the Santo de Serra Golf Club, on the other hand, are relatively level. The large, open clubhouse is a great place to enjoy traditional Portuguese and Madeiran food and drinks after your round.

Palheiro Golf Club – The Unconventional One

The clubhouse terrace of the Palheiro Golf Club is also an absolute must when on holiday in Madeira. It is located around 500 metres above the city of Funchal and offers an unobstructed view of it. On the unconventionally designed par 72 course, you also have a breathtaking view of the capital of the archipelago at some points. On the course, however, it’s better to concentrate on the essentials due to many blind shots and partly rutted cart paths. If you play carefully and precisely on the not too long course, you will have a lot of fun. Sometimes wide, sometimes narrow, challenging greens, large differences in elevation – you are constantly confronted with changing tasks.

Porto Santo Golf Course – “Seves” Legacy

The course on the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, designed by Severiano Ballesteros, is completely different. It is not situated on the slopes of the steep lava cliffs like the other two clubs, but at sea level at the foot of the surrounding mountains. The course stretches almost the entire length of the small island from the dunes in the south to the basalt cliffs in the north. Thus, the course also divides into very different halves. While the northern nine shows off the coastline and sea views, the southern loop of the Porto Santo Golf Club is reminiscent of American parkland golf. There are many water hazards in play here and long hitters usually have a considerable advantage. Porto Santo is wonderfully suited for a day trip. It takes only 20 minutes by plane from Madeira. But it’s also worth taking the ferry at least one way. A maritime dinner on the ship makes a wonderful end to the trip.

Hotels are ready for golfers

With the Madeira Golf Pass you can play three or five rounds on the three courses for a fixed price, which is much cheaper than booking a green fee each. The number of rounds you play on one of the courses is freely selectable. In the course of the expansion of golf tourism on Madeira, some hotels now also have a golf consierge available to assist with booking tee times and organising transfers. These hotels include the Galo Resort (5 stars), a spa and wellness hotel that claims to be climate neutral. The standard rooms are quite small, but the suites are all the larger. The location of the bar and restaurant, which are built directly on the steep cliffs, is outstanding. Here you can enjoy drinks and food with an unobstructed view of the ocean, whether indoors or on one of the terraces. The Galo Resort (Photo: Azalea Group)

Bright and colourful

Also right on the coast is the Melia Madeira Mare Resort (5 stars). Here, too, sea views are standard and the hotel is geared towards golfers. Even if the hotel has perhaps one star too many, you can spend relaxing hours here. In addition to golf, many holidaymakers oganise numerous other sporting activities. Both hotels are only about 15 minutes away from the island’s capital Funchal and thus invite you to make excursions to the coastal city. Besides the colourful flora, the brightly painted doors of many residential houses are a particular tourist magnet. One of the best places to get to know the extent of the island’s diverse vegetation is the Palheiro Garden, which borders directly on the golf course. The oldest trees have been here for almost 200 years. Thanks to the subtropical climate, there are different flowers to admire in every season. Palheiro Gardens (Photo: Azalea Group)