Quinta Do Lago - Algarve at its best

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The South Course at Quinta do Lago

The South Course at Quinta do Lago

One of the best things about a golfing break in the Algarve is how much you can pack in.

A full week would be wonderful but, if time doesn’t permit, it’s still a great place to go for a long weekend.

And that’s what I did at the start of November. This was the plan: early Monarch flight Friday, play three superb courses, eat some great food, back for school run on Monday morning.

The destination was Quinta do Lago, a golf resort and residential estate located to the west of Faro airport. If the name rings a bell for serious golf fans, one of the courses there was the former venue for the European Tour’s Portugal Open. More on that below.

So, let’s go….. early alarm call,  check-in at Monarch and time to say goodbye to dreary November England and say hello to sunny November Portugal.

1] Laranjal

It’s the perfect way to begin the weekend as Laranjal is the nearest golf course to Faro Airport. Leave baggage reclaim, hop in a taxi and you can be on the first tee 20 minutes later. Laranjal is an immediate taste of authentic Portugal as orange trees, cork and umbrella pines frame the course. The scattering of all those little orange dots (Tip: Don’t play with an orange ball!) is an enjoyable sight to British eyes, offering the feeling that you’ve arrived in an exotic far-off land even though the plane journey took only a few hours. Originally an orange grove, the par 72 which opened in 2009 starts gently (just what you want really as there’s plenty of golf to be played this weekend) but then gets tougher. Five lakes add to the enjoyable scenery and some of the long par 3s are particularly testing. Playing off 18, it was the usual case of ‘having my moments’, as typified on the 11th. Duffed tee-shot about 60 yards though some reeds, hoisted 9-iron over water to 3 feet. Par. Measuring 6,217 yards (although the scorecard is in metres) off the yellows, it’s very playable but provides an excellent test too. An ideal location to get the ball rolling.

2] South Course

If you want ‘wow’, head to the South Course at Quinta do Lago. Designed by William Mitchell in 1974, it’s no surprise to discover that this track staged eight editions of the European Tour’s Portugal Open (1976, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 2001). Monty was the winner in 1989 while former Ryder Cup star Phil Price (who beat Phil Mickelson in the 2002 singles) scored a two-shot victory over Padraig Harrington in 2001. The back nine in particular has some spectacular views and elevation changes while umbrella pines, lakes and wild flowers give you the feeling that you’ve arrived at somewhere special. But, again, in terms of playability, the mid-to-high handicapper can still score well here if he/she manages to stop gawping at the scenery. That was my excuse over that wonderful back nine (we teed off at the 10th) but I did score nicely on the front nine. We even got some rain at one point but rain in 20-degree heat is rather a pleasant way of cooling down and I even managed a nice picture of a rainbow. Some courses strive to attain beauty. The South just has it. A superb place to play 18 holes of golf.

3] North Course

After a major redevelopment, the North Course is the third superb layout at Quinta do Lago. Redesigned by American architect Beau Welling in collaboration with 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, it measures 6,232 yards off the yellows and 6,732 from the whites. It’s easy to see that the investment has paid off as the course really is in superb condition? As good as the South? Not quite in my eyes although Twitter has its say below. Like the South, it works its way through trees and millionaire villas and, again, I’d view the back nine as the highlight. That includes the par-4 12th where the second shot is hit over a lake. I played the perfect drive to the corner of the dog-leg and then, despite imagining a soaring shot to the green, topped one into the wet stuff. Hey ho. It took me longer to read/get the pace of the slick greens on the North than at the other two venues at Quinta although I did actually make my best score here after three pars in the final five holes. Also, the 18th is the best finishing hole of the trio while the par 3s give you more of a chance.

Overall marks

I’d probably give the South 9 out of 10, the North 8 out of 10 and Laranjal 7.5 out of 10. All three are hugely enjoyable and a fine test. In terms of order, I’d definitely kick off with Laranjal as a way of acclimatising and getting the weekend going and then probably go North Course second and save the jewel-in-the-crown South until last.

Those are just my thoughts though. What did others who had played them think?

I posed the question on Twitter…

Laranjal

 

@timhallpga Great course, we are out on Monday with a group from our club.

@Robbo_Taylor Lovely track.

South Course

@jontylad Lovely course. Better of the two at Quinta. Not as long or tough as I thought it would be.

@BF_Darkhorse Great course, one of the best here.

@christinevine1 Love it. The north is less natural but still very, very good. Hard to choose between them.

@percydude The South is my fav but 3 fantastic courses, played em all a few times. #algarvegolfatitsbest

@mattybolton35 the south course is one of the best courses in the algarve.

@a_mcnamee best golf course I've played in Portugal or Spain. Quality experience too.

@andrew_picken brilliant layout loved it! 15th over water still gives me nightmares!

North Course

@christinevine1 I played the north twice and appreciated it so so much more the 2nd time.

@Nwoolfrey Played it several times. Much better after its 10 mill makeover.

@calrennie Great course & remember the 12th as found water off the tee even though took iron "for position".

@clark_nick not as natural a layout as the South but the upgrade is brilliant and the greens very tricky!

Also at Quinta do Lago

Accommodation

Martinhal – Quinta Family Golf Resort

As well as the big hotels, another option is to stay at Martinhal. This is a private collection of exclusive 4-star independently-owned luxury villas, ranging from 2 bedroom townhouses to 5 bedroom villas – each with a private garden and pool.

Dining

Our party of six raved about the food on offer. They were a pretty well-traveled bunch so to hear “one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had” said so often clearly meant something. My taste buds were lucky enough to sample lamb at Casa do Logo, fillet steak at Bovino (not forgetting the fudge sundae) and sea bass at Pure (fish restaurant). Let’s be honest, this is high end Algarve so prices reflected the quality but even if you treat yourself just once on the trip, any of the above-mentioned are memorable options. For those with a lesser budget, the breakfast (full English/continental) at the Martinhal resort was a great way of fuelling up before 18 holes while the pizza at family-friendly Koko Lane was spot on too.

Taylor Made Performance Centre

Situated right next to the North and South courses, Koko Lane is the centrepiece of Quinta da Logo with its restaurant, driving range and kids play area. The Taylor Made Performance Centre will be the obvious attraction for golfers and is well worth a visit. Bring the family to Koko Lane and they can play/relax while you hit balls, get a club fitting or even have a lesson.

Stay-and-Play packages

Golf Package at Martinhal» €418.50 per person

Includes:

-3 nights’ accommodation in a townhouse (sleeps 4 people)
-1 round of 18 holes in the South Course
-1 round of 18 holes in North Golf Course                                 
-1 round of 18 holes in Laranjal Golf Course

Golf Package at Martinhal» €414 per person

Includes:

-3 nights’ accommodation in a villa (sleeps 6 people)
-1 round of 18 holes in the South Course
-1 round of 18 holes in North Golf Course                                 
-1 round of 18 holes in Laranjal Golf Course

Golf Package at Martinhal» €403 per person

Includes:

-3 nights’ accommodation in a villa (sleeps 8 people) 
-1 round of 18 holes in the South Course
-1 round of 18 holes in North Golf Course                                 
-1 round of 18 holes in Laranjal Golf Course

Valid from December 1-28, 2016, and January 1 to March 31, 2017

Book at quintadologo.com

Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Faro from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £39 one way (£30 return)
 
For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk



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