The thought of teeing up on sun-kissed golf courses in the Algarve, whizzing around in a buggy with
possibly a few beers on board, is one of the very few things keeping us going during this coronavirus lockdown right now.
With golf courses once again reopening for play in Portugal this week, the Algarve is ready and waiting for you to get back out on their fairways as soon as it safe for everyone to jump aboard a flight to Faro again.
How soon that will be is anyone's guess, but what we can tell you is that Visit Golf Algarve is working tirelessly to ensure all your golfing needs are met by the time you are putting on your finest Portuguese accent to the taxi driver.
Portugal – and particularly the Algarve – has been relatively lightly affected by the coronavirus, and as a result their courses are being maintained to the highest of standards, as you would expect for this golfing hotspot.
More than half the courses in the Algarve dot the 100-mile coastline with its sandy beaches, rocky coves and quaint fishing villages, while others lie inland and take advantage of the spectacular natural flora and fauna.
Whether it's a cheeky trip at the end of this year, or maybe something planned for 2021, we have selected our favourite five golf courses in the Algarve to help you narrow down your selection as to which tracks you might like to play.
We rank our favourites from #5 to #1...
Do you agree with our list, or do you consider another that is worthy of making our top five? We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on our social media channels over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter...
#5 - Penina
Golf has been played in the Algarve since 1966 when three-time Open champion Sir Henry Cotton laid out the first track at Penina, and since then it has played host to 10 Portuguese Opens.
Yet there is so much more than just history to shout about when it comes to this incredible Cotton design.
Regarded as one of the most challenging layouts in the whole of Portugal, this marquee course is as unforgiving as it is beautiful.
Flanked by streams, ditches and water hazards, this par-73 course is maintained to the highest standard all-year round and boasts an extensive array of subtle slopes, elevated greens and breathtaking scenery.
Tough, really tough in fact, but if you can play to your handicap here then you might just consider it as one of the most satisfying rounds of your career.
Set in a stunning 360-acre estate, amidst an impressive array of natural landscape surroundings, the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort has previously been voted Portugal’s leading golf resort by the World Travel Awards.
Length: 6,912 yards Par: 73
#4 - Amendoeira (Faldo)
Sir Nick Faldo had a strategic test in mind when he laid out this track at the Amendoeira Golf Resort in 2007.
This big, undulating course requires patience and forethought and may not reward those whose default weapon is the driver on every tee box.
Faldo's design is devilish and incorporates desert-like scrub and bunkers, rocky outcrops, water, olive groves and a number of blind tee shots.
"This was a very exciting project, which gave me a great opportunity to exploit my passion for design the same way I exploited my passion for playing," said Faldo.
"You have incredible views, beautiful undulating land and any time you have natural terrain like this, it is great fun to work with.
"The real skill is that when you stand on the tee, the golf hole tells you what to do and if you do what it tells you there is reward but if you don’t you’re penalised.
"The back nine is quite hilly, which is fantastic because we’ve got some great views to complement the course."
In 2016, the Faldo Course was crowned Portugal’s Best Golf Course at the World Golf Awards.
Length: 6,885 yards Par: 72
#3 - Quinta do Lago (Laranjal)
Laranjal might be a relative new kid on the block given it only opened for business in 2009, but it certainly wasted little time in opening the trophy cabinet. Two years in fact, as it was awarded the title of Portugal's Best New Course in the Portuguese Travel Awards.
This charismatic course is built on old orange groves, and it is a beautiful but brutal 18 holes of golf. We found the Bermuda Grass fairways here to be some of the nicest we have played in Portugal.
Players need to be Jim Furyk-accurate off the tee to avoid trouble, and also be able to work their ball like Bubba Watson with a number of doglegs.
You also need a steady hand on these Penn A4 greens as these surfaces are rapid. Many of them are undulated so they will forensically examine your putter.
Water is evident throughout, so bring plenty of balls, and there are spectacular views across the course from numerous raised tee boxes - which can quickly put some perspective on a bad round, or even aid a good one.
Length: 7,086 yards Par: 72
#2 - Onyria Palmares (Lagos, Praia)
Re-designed by world-famous course architect Robert Trent Jones II in 2011, Onyria Palmares now consists of three very different nines – Alvor (parkland), Lagos (parkland/dunes) and Praia (seaside dunes) – with each set on the panoramic backdrop of the Bay of Lagos.
The longer Alvor nine presents the stiffer test, with a plethora of elevation changes as the holes ascend hillsides or descend through intimate valleys.
For us though, it's the Lagos and Praia nines that live longest in the memory.
Lagos begins with a similar parkland setting but takes golfers into the expansive dunes, while the tricky, yet beautiful Praia Course features four seaside holes locked between the beach and the railway line.
This nine-hole loop incorporates the only two lakes found on the entire site at the short par-3 third hole and the long par-4 sixth hole. The seventh and eighth then immerse golfers into the expansive dune lands on the southwestern portion of the site. The round concludes with a climb to the clubhouse and back into a more parkland setting.
Praia, the third and latest nine at Palmeres, presents the golf experience every great designer dreams of having the privilege to create: a seaside landscape with dunes exposed to the elements.
Without doubt, our favourite set of holes come right on the seaside set between the beach and the railway line.
Praia opens by descending from a parkland setting, before whisking golfers into the true links part of the course. This dunes character is continued through the remainder of the Praia nine with the closing hole, a strong uphill par-5, rising up out of the dunes through a deep valley to an amphitheatre just below the clubhouse.
Just an incredible venue for golf, and we highly recommend you check it out.
Length: Lagos - 3,431 yards; Praia - 3,305 yards Par: Lagos - 36; Praia - 36
#1 - Monte Rei (North)
The Nicklaus-designed Monte Rei is located in 1,000 acres of glorious Algarve countryside, and boasts stunning views across the local region.
Set against the backdrop of the Serra do Caldeirão mountains to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, this par-72 course blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.
Wide forgiving fairways weave through mature trees and valleys, creating a unique test on every hole alongside spectacular vistas.
Water comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes - so it's another track where you will want to load up on sleeves - and crafty bunkers will punish players who manage to stay dry but do not make it onto the putting surface.
Honestly, the bunkers here are something else - they are perfectly manicured.
In terms of overall condition for golf courses in Portugal, this premier and exclusive country club wins hands down.
Monte Rei North has been voted the best course in the country for a number of years now, and rightly so in our book.
Nicklaus' team will soon unleash a South Course onto Monte Rei, and it's expected to very much rival the North Course.
"It has the potential to be another sensational course," said Nicklaus of the new South Course.
Length: 7,182 yards Par: 72