Lisbon’s Silver Coast is fast upstaging the Algarve as Portugals’
destination of choice for golfers who expect quality both on and
off the course – and Seve’s last ever design is a chief attraction
If, in the morning, you tend to scoff
down a bowl of cornflakes before grabbing your
iPad and dashing off to work in your black Audi
Sport TDI, you might want to stop reading now.
There’ll be a review of the Algarve in an next issue.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with
Audis, iPads or cornflakes. It’s just that good old
herd mentality – following the crowd sees many of
us to stick to what we know when being that little
bit more adventurous might lead us to a surprising
new discover. Golfers are not immune.
If you’re weighing up this beautiful country as a
possible golfing destination, the Algarve, admittedly,
is an ideal location for golf, sun and fun, which is
why it’s long been a magnet for golfers from all corners
of Europe. And yet it is precisely that popularity
which has left other areas of the country with
less pressured fairways and unique luxury accommodations
that offer outstanding value for money.
The Oeste region near Lisbon is a prime example.
It has a cluster of fabulous resorts located
within easy reach of the city’s airport, which is
now served by multiple daily flights from the UK
by Easyjet, Air Portugal and British Airways. Time
it right and you can complete the 40-minute dash
north to this picturesque corner of Portugal just in
time for breakfast. Leave the cornflakes well alone.
Why not try hot Brazilian coffee and a munch on a
warm nun’s belly? The "barriga de freira", a popular
traditional pastry, is, like many aspects of this
country – enjoyably and deliciously quirky.
It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Portugal is also
home to the last course ever designed by the late,
great Seve Ballesteros. Like the man himself, Royal
Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort is a little unconventional,
but totally and utterly brilliant. Royal Óbidos is
superbly located in a region tagged the ‘Silver Coast’
for the effect of the sun on the Atlantic Ocean. It's blessed with UNESCO World Heritage sites, national
monuments and a coastal area of breathtaking natural
beauty. The historic walled town of Óbidos –
whose name stems from the Latin for citadel – is
also one of the most striking in Portugal.
There’s no easy introduction to your round at this
newly-opened course with, say, a friendly, short parfour.
The first hole is actually a teasing right-hand
dogleg – one that you’ll be lucky to par. There’s also
a stunning series of half a dozen or so holes that
meander between an intricate system of lakes connected
by cascading streams, calling for shot-making
of the highest quality. It’s tough, but extremely
entertaining. One of the brightest highlights of the
round on this 7,100-yard layout is the 12th, a 460-
yard par-four, where the golfer has to negotiate
both the drive and the second shot between and
over two lakes as well as a curving stream.
The facilities generally are best described as
‘extensive’, with a spa and tennis courts on hand,
and the clubhouse is a great place to relax, overlooking
no fewer than nine of the eighteen holes.
From its generous terrace you can enjoy spectacular
views across the course with the Atlantic Ocean and
Óbidos Lagoon in the background.
Refuelling after a day on the links is as much a
treat as the golf itself, as this region is one of the
most renowned for its local seafood. Specialities
include oven-roasted sea-bream and rock-bass, plus
unique delicacies such as Atlantic “sweating” lobster,
cockles from Óbidos Lagoon and shell fish
from the nurseries of Porto de Barcas.
But it’s the quality of the golf on offer that really
whets your appetite – thanks to Royal Óbidos now
making this morsel of Portugal a truly mouthwatering
golf destination. Just minutes away from Seve's
creation are two of Portugal's acclaimed resorts –
Praia D’El Rey, with its stunning seaside links and
Bom Sucesso, with an outstanding championship
course by Donald Steel. As a result, there are now
some very tempting packages to consider, taking in
golf at all three locations and accommodation at
Praia D’El Rey's sumptuous 5-star hotel, or at Bom
Sucesso, one of the most stylish European resorts
to have appeared in recent years, featuring a range
of architect-designed apartments and villas, plus
tennis, football, cycling, a range of water sports, a
shopping centre and an art gallery.
These resorts are now working together to offer a
very special experience, providing luxury accommodation
and unforgettable golf over three sublime
courses. If Portugal is on your radar – and it should
be – Royal Óbidos, Praia D’El Rey and Bom Sucesso
promise the quality that will convert you forever.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine