The truest form of the game and how it all started in our great sport, links golf is the greatest golfing experience of them all. Being close to the water on that hard and fast turf makes us play shots that we often don’t play on inland courses. The wind and undulating ground also make us get creative, it is the way golf should be.
When you think of links courses you are immediately drawn to the idea of Scottish or Irish links. Have you ever considered Lisbon as a destination for some top quality links golf? You probably consider the Algarve as the best place for golf in Portugal but we want to challenge that somewhat.
This article will open your eyes to what Lisbon has to offer and other ways that you can enjoy the most traditional form of golf. Links golf doesn’t always have to be played on the often cold and wet courses of the UK and Ireland. This is like links golf with a new exotic twist.
Troia Golf Course
Set on a peninsula south of Lisbon, part of the charm that this course has is the journey to get there. The drive up the narrow piece of land is beautiful with the Atlantic Ocean on your left and this pilgrimage culminates in a stunning Robert Trent Jones Sr. golf course.
Troia Golf Course has hosted many top events including the Portuguese Open and the European Amateur, when you see this place you can understand why. The lush and narrow fairways weave naturally between high trees and sandy waste bunkers toward small and challenging greens.
The course looks like it has always been part of the land. The third hole is one of the highlights of the round and RTJ said that if he were to pick 18 holes from his projects then this would be part of that dream course. That is high praise indeed from one of the best course designers of all time.
The best way to describe this course is that it’s similar to an Australian sand belt links. Think of a European version of a Royal Melbourne with the high pines and flora of Sunningdale. If that description doesn’t get your golfing juices flowing then it’s hard to think what will.
Where to Stay
If you are staying closer to Lisbon itself then you will have a drive of around an hour and a half to get to Troia, which is well worth it, by the way. However, why not take the chance to disappear from the hustle of the city and stay out on the peninsula for some extra escapism?
Troia Resort is like an oasis on this peninsula and, if you want to make the experience even more special, you could sail there. To get the most from this resort we recommend the Aqualuz Suite Apartments, this gives you the flexibility of your own place with all of the amenities for when you’re not golfing.
Many argue that this is the best course in Portugal. The experience here is intimate and you feel like you are discovering something that more people should know about. The only decisions to make are when should you go and how many people should you tell about this beautiful place.
Praia D’El Rey
A round of golf at Praia D’El Rey is one that pleases every sense. This course is visually stunning as it meanders through lush seaside vegetation and expansive sandy stretches. The various flora that surround the course also bring a unique fragrance that adds to the salty seaside aroma that is so common on seaside courses.
Some of the holes on this course give the most amazing views, especially after the first couple of holes as you start to com downhill toward the water. Although, it must be said that the front nine definitely feels more like a parkland course than it does a links track, this just adds to the unique experience of playing this course.
As you move into the back nine the links fun begins. The stretch from the 13th to the 15th is easily the most scintillating stretch on the course, this may even be the best three hole stretch in mainland Europe! You just have to savour this section and appreciate the beauty.
There are some courses in the world that constantly pick up accolades and Praia D’El Rey is certainly one of them. The fact that this course makes you switch golfing style from the front nine to the back nine is unique and really adds to the charm of the place.
The only thing that rivals this course for the feeling of luxury and the views of the Atlantic Ocean just tie it all together. The only decision that you need to make when you play at Praia D’El Rey is how many times can I play this again before I need to go home?
Where to Stay
The five-star resort on the Praia D’El Rey property is a perfect match for the golf experience. It is luxurious, welcoming and everything you need for a proper getaway. The miles of pristine beaches on the resort are one of the highlights for those that like sundowners or long walks.
One of the best things about this resort is that you have many accommodation options. You can stay in the beautiful and grand Marriott hotel or you can stay in a villa for a self-catering experience and a bit more privacy. Both options are fantastic.
The hotel is located near to Obidos, an ancient walled-city. This is a great little day trip on the days you’re not playing golf, if of course you plan on having those days. Otherwise the resort has a great spa, a gym, tennis courts and a wonderful restaurant, you won’t be stuck for things to do.
One fo the most famous courses in mainland Europe, Oitavos Dunes was host to one of the most innovative events in European Tour history, Golf Sixes. This course wonderfully wanders through the incredibly lush Sintra-Casacais National Park. This course is painfully beautiful.
Not only has this course got great modern heritage and oodles of charm, it is one of the most environmentally friendly courses in the world. The national park is an area of natural importance and so the course has been carefully crafted to ensure that nature is preserved immaculately.
Much like Praia D’El Rey, Oitavos Dunes has a a mix of parkland and links terrain which certainly adds to the richness of the playing experience. It is a course that will challenge your golfing creativity in a testing yet wonderfully playable way.
There are few courses in the world that are as beautiful and fun to play as Oitavos Dunes. The staff here make you feel incredibly welcome which adds to the overall experience. The 14th hole may be the highlight of the round but it certainly isn’t an easy choice to make.
Where to Stay
One of the great appeals of Oitavos Dunes is how close the resort is to the city of Lisbon. There are also a number of different accommodation options including The Sheraton Cascais Resort, Hotel Baia and The Oitavos.
The Oitavos is a stunning resort that borders the course and looks out onto the dramatic Atlantic Coast. Just 20 minutes from Lisbon in Quinta de Marinha, It is a modern masterpiece of luxurious design, a perfect place to call home for the duration of your stay.
The Sheraton Cascais is wonderfully nestled in woodland and has a feeling of sumptuous seclusion about it. The huge swimming pool on the resort is the perfect place to melt away the stress or forget about any short putts you may have missed on your last round at Oitavos Dunes.
Finally, for those who want to be closer to a town, Hotel Baia sits proudly beside Cascais Bay which is a stunning spot. It is close to plenty of bars and restaurants which is great for a group of friends who are out for a golf holiday. This is also a great value option for anyone on a budget.
Portugal is a very special destination for golfing adventures. When you think of golf in this country you will, reasonably, first think of the Algarve region but there is more to Portugal than that. Lisbon has some of the most dramatic and enjoyable courses in Europe and every golfer should try them.
The rugged coastal land and lush vegetation create a highly unique playing experience. That coupled with a wonderful climate makes for a perfect golfing destination. The links courses of this region are brilliant for a trip with friends or family alike.
Next time you are planning a golf trip in Portugal, break from the ranks of the norm, book yourself a few rounds at the links courses around Lisbon. It is a unique golfing experience that not enough golfers have enjoyed. Grab yourself some golf on a links without the fear of horizontal rain.