Boasting three stunning courses by renowned designers – Severiano Ballesteros, Cabell B Robinson, and Robert Trent Jones Snr – Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years.
And, in beating off the challenge of other nominees such as Paris, Porto, Missouri and Sicily to win the title, Madeira’s burgeoning reputation will be enhanced further.
What’s more, it has already been named Europe’s ‘leading island destination’ in the 2019 World Travel Awards™, for the fourth successive year, and will be looking to become the world’s ‘leading island destination’ for a staggering fifth year running, when the World Travel Awards grand final takes place in Oman, in November.
A spokesman for Discover Madeira, the consumer-facing brand of the Madeira Promotion Bureau, said: “We are naturally delighted to win this award, not least because of the standard of the other nominees. We are engaged in a comprehensive marketing campaign to highlight the delights of Madeiran golf, which is reaping benefits in terms of increased visitor numbers and growth in interest from the travel industry.
“Many of those industry visitors and travelling golfers will be among the voters in these awards and we thank them for their support, and, crucially their patronage of golf in Madeira, which has been vastly underrated for some time.”
The best way to enjoy the three golf courses is with a Madeira Golf Passport – available from most hotels and the golf clubs – which entitles the bearer to five rounds of golf across the two ‘mainland’ tracks.
Trent Jones Snr’s 1991 redesign of Santo da Serra – which dates originally from 1937 – created a spectacular 27-hole complex in a beautiful natural landscape, with views of Porto Santo and the bay of Machico, where Portuguese navigators first landed in 1419.
The Machico and Desertas nines form the 6,825-yard championship course, on which the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open was held on 10 occasions – Mark James winning the inaugural 1993 tournament. The third and fourth on the Machico are regarded as the signature holes, sitting atop cliffs more than 2,200ft above the Atlantic.
The 3,193-yard Serras course offers a delightful alternative, with lakes and mountain views along flatter terrain.
The Robinson-designed Palheiro Golf opened in 1993 and sits within the magnificent Palheiro Estate, which is more than 200 years old. The course borders the five-star Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro and meanders through a pristine environment of maritime pine and botanical woodland, garnished with lush, sub-tropical vegetation.
And, at nearly 1,640ft above sea level, the location enjoys dramatic views of Madeira’s mountainous skyline and the vast Atlantic Ocean, as well as – nestling below, just 10 minutes away – the island’s capital, Funchal.
The par-72, 6,656-yard course takes full advantage of Madeira’s hilly terrain, with abrupt ridges and deep valleys. It is listed inside continental Europe’s top 200 in one benchmark course ranking, and the presence of a splendid hotel, secured a spot for Palheiro in the top 80 in two recent ‘best European golf resort’ lists.
A short, 20-minute flight – or a two-and-a-half hour ferry ride – will cover the 27 miles between Madeira and the archipelago’s eastern-most island, Porto Santo, home to Porto Santo Golfe, which hosted the Madeira Islands Open between 2009 and 2011.
Ballesteros’ 7,036-yard course, which opened in 2004 and was built to environmentally conscious standards, comprises two distinct nines, spanning an area from sand dunes to basalt cliffs.
The US-style southern route is dotted with lakes, requiring a long, precise game; while the northern route is atop yet more fantastic cliffs, near a stunning beach, also called Porto Santo. The signature hole is undoubtedly the 200-yard, par-three 13th, which requires a shot over a gorge to reach a cliff-top green.
The World Golf Awards™ – part of World Travel Awards™ – is designed to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism through an annual awards programme, and was established in 2014.
The formal winners’ announcements and award presentations took place at the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, yesterday (October 29, 2019).