Golfing on the ‘Sunshine Isle’

Alan Couser visited the island of Madeira, which he thinks has golf off to a tee…

While Madeira may not be renowned as a golfing destination, that does not mean it has nothing to offer.

Quite the contrary, there are three excellent courses and a number of ‘options’ to choose from.

Two courses are to be found on the main island of Madeira; Palheiro and Santo da Serra, the latter being ranked in Europe’s top 100 courses.

Originally only a nine-hole course, it was transformed by Robert Trent Jones Snr into a spectacular 27-hole club, including a championship 18-hole course. The challenge of its mountainous terrain, beautiful lakes and strategic bunkers provides a superb feast of golf for amateur and professional alike. Santo da Serra has hosted the Madeira Island Open, part of the European Tour, for the past 12 years.

Palheiro Golf was designed by Cabell B Robinson in 1993 and sits in a beautiful wooded estate comprising over 200 acres. The steep hillside, with views high over the city of Funchal, is a test of even the best golfers game. From long, winding par 5’s to one of the trickiest par 3’s I have ever encountered, Palheiro Golf will reward its players with spectacular scenery and a tough, tight game of golf.

The bar terrace in the clubhouse must have one of the most fantastic views of any golf course in the world. What a great place to unwind. You could even treat yourself to dinner in the wonderfully restored villa, Casa Velha dp Palheiro, where you can expect the very finest of dining at a price that will not break the bank.

Madeira’s third course is on the island of Porto Santo, where the courses have been built with environmental preservation in mind. A game of golf here is part of a great day out. The early morning ferry, which takes just over two hours, is met by your shuttle bus or taxi.

Porto Santo offers a blend of both links and traditional golf, with the North Course being played near high sea cliffs, where the 13th, 14th and 15th offer spectacular views. The American style parkland South Course features lakes and long fairways, with a backdrop of the beach offering beautiful scenery. Both courses offer a superb challenge. Your day out finishes on the ferry back to Funchal, where you can enjoy a lovely dinner on board.

For around €100, a typical package includes first class ferry tickets, transportation to and from the course and a round of golf.