The three-in-one Palmares resort offers some of the best golf in Portugal – and if your swing is off, you can hop on a train straight out of there
Palmares was one of the first golf courses to spring up in the Algarve, way back in 1975. Uniquely, it presents golfers with three nine-hole courses: Alvor, Lagos and Praia. Each poses a distinctively different challenge – while Praia adds the additional novelty of having an active train line running through. (Golfers concerned that the sound of the rattling carriages could put them off their swing should be reassured trains only pass through once every 20–30 minutes.)
Palmares also succeeds as a place that can cater for every different type of golfer. It is ideal for the holidaymaker who is principally attracted by the nearby town, also called Lagos (pronounced Lah-goosh), and who only has time to play nine holes.
And it’s no great stretch for the seasoned and enthusiastic golfer to fit all 27 holes into one day. Although temperatures in the summer can get well up into the 30s, the breeze that comes in from the Atlantic takes some of the sting out of the heat. And therein lies another reason to play Palmares – it’s one of Portugal’s most picturesque courses with panoramic views across the Bay of Lagos and Ria de Alvor.
Of the three courses, my preference was for Praia. The first hole, with its sharp downhill dogleg, is all about exercising restraint off the tee. And the four seaside holes help to give it the feel and flavour of a links.
Following a redesign in 2010 by golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr, Palmares has scooped up a string of awards. So perhaps the final word is best left to him: “Once in a decade an opportunity [comes along] on which you can stretch your art and architecture fully. This piece of land was meant to be a golf course.”
Palmares resort: view the gallery (click to enlarge)
Monarch flies to Faro (a 45-minute drive from Lagos) from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £49 one way (£94 return).