Algarve Golf Opinions
So why is Algarve Golf so popular?

For me it is easy to understand why the Algarve attracts so many golfers every year. The outstanding choice of quality golf courses along the Atlantic Coast combined with golf friendly weather all year round, make the southern coast of Portugal the ideal golf destination. Most courses are within 35 minutes transfer time from the popular towns of Vilamoura, Albufeira and Carvoeiro. It is only when you choose to play the courses in the East Algarve, close to the Spainsh Border or those in the far west of the Algarve that you will exceed these travelling times. Well worth the effort, when you consider the low green fees for courses such as Quinta do Vale, Benamor and Castro Marim and the scenic courses of Quinta da Cima and Quinta da Ria in the east. Courses such as Parque da Floresta, Boavista, Palmares, Morgado and Alamos make a trip to the West a must with green fees under € 60.00 per round in high season. But for me what makes golf in the Algarve so unique is the fact that it offers golf courses to suit every type of player.

If you are one of those players trying to find out what type of golf course the touring professional has to face each week, you do not have to go far. A superb choice of championship courses awaits. The Portugal Masters (14th -17th October 2010) is played at Victoria Golf course Vilamoura, each year. The Penina Championship course used to host the Portuguese open. Several more championship courses have been opened in recent years with the Faldo and O'Connor courses only 20 minutes from Albufeira. Or the Jack Nicklaus'designed Monte Rei golf course near Tavira. An absolute gem of a course but also the most expensive in all of the Algarve. Don't forget to add Quinta da Cima to the list, host to several senior PGA and LPGA tour events. One course in particular seems to rank highly in surveys trying to find the best courses in the world, let alone Europe. San Lorenzo, close to Almancil and close to Faro airport, is rated among the top 10 courses in Europe. If you include accommodation at either Formosa Park or the Dona Filipa hotel you be amazed how reasonable the prices are, to play this wonderful golf course. One bit of advise when you are playing these championship courses is to play from the yellow tees. It more often than not will leave you with a formidable approach shot to the green. The wind in the Algarve is a big factor as all the courses are close to the Atlantic coast and it can change the easiest looking hole into a real challenge. In particular the wide open spaces at the Faldo and O'Connor courses will make it a very though test of golf. 

The most favoured itineraries are the courses around Vilamoura and Almancil. It means a short trip from Faro airport to your accommodation and a superb choice of courses. Vale do Lobo offers the Royal and Ocean courses, Quinta da Lago the South and North courses, the newly opened Laranjal course, Pinheiros Altos and Vila Sol can all be found close to Quarteira and Almancil. A fabulous selection of golf courses that are all in the mid price range but do offer some great green fees during the low season. Low season is when the weather in the Algarve is wetter ( December and January) or hotter ( June , July and August). Very close to the town of Vilamoura with its popular Marina area full of bars and restaurants, will you find the golf courses of Laguna, Pinhal, Millennium, the Old Course and Victoria. With Laguna being the least expensive. Laguna, Pinhal and Victoria are next door to each other and the terrain is similar for all three courses. Pinhal and the Old Course have more tree lined fairways. Each of them are in superb condition although some players are waiting for Laguna to produce the standard of greens they have come to expect after the course was closed for many months.

Not far from Albufeira towards the west you find the popular town of Carvoeiro. It offers a great choice of Algarve accommodation and several in demand golf courses. Mostly Gramacho and Vale da Pinta but also Alto GC are on the must play list of many golfers. Close by you find the historic town of Silves and its very quickly maturing Silves golf course.   

It could be that on the day of your arrival you do have enough time to play a warm up round.  If you do have time consider palying Sheraton Pine Cliffs. A shorter course build along the cliffs of Falesia beach offering spectacular views. Play the par 3 6th hole from the white tees. All carry over 190 yards of cliffs! Spectacular scenery and a great golf hole

The correct dress code is observed throughout the Algarve and polo shirts and proper golf shoes and socks are required. Shorts are fine as long as they do not resemble anything close to swimwear. Players are required to be at the tee ten minutes before play and marshalls do check that everyone is keeping up with play. The expected time for a fourball to play 18 holes is 4 hrs and 30 minutes. 

PlayBetterGolf has negotiated some special discounted green fees for all of these Algarve courses and the greatest savings can be made by booking in advance. But what about the non golfers ? If the Mediterannean weather is not all you are looking for, PlayBetterGolf have arranged some great fun excursions.

San Lorenzo offers
Algarve green

  Hitting it longer !

I received an update from Master Golf instructor  Nigel Elder.    Nigel is always interested in the development of golf technology as well as the mechanics of the golfswing. And although the new technology has a place in todays golf teaching, more often than not it is the old rules that seem to win the day. Nigel's latest update looks at Bubba Watson's 10 rules of hitting it longer. It seems that some of things we have been practicing are perhaps not as beneficial as first thought. ( Although regular practice does seem to be one of Bubba's tips! ) For example Bubba Watson explains that a full hip turn does help create more clubhead speed.! When I started out my peers told me that a "draw" would always get more distance. This was contradicted by science, which found that whichever way the ball spins it makes no difference! However one of ten Bubba rules suggest we need to go back to playing a draw.  Does make me feel sorry for winning Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomery and a lot of amateur golfers who find the fade the easier shot to play.    
Time to consider coming to the Algarve in the next few months as the weather will be great to practice the "in to out"  shot.   
Lee Westwood a master stroke for Oceanico 
and golf in the Algarve

If you are in the business of promoting your company you do not have to go much further than the world of golf. 
The hours of media coverage the game of golf receives, guarantees any sponsor that the money is well spent.
But who to pick to promote your brand ?. You start by contacting a management agency that looks after a number of players. The agreement reached is to not only sponsor European top players such as Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and David Howell but also the remaining players the agency looks after, such as 200th ranked and out of form Lee Westwood. How fortunes change. 
Having just moved to no 1 in the world and pushing Tiger Woods down the ranking for the first time in close to ten years, Lee Westwood has not only become Europe's highest profile player but a superb ambassador for one of his main sponsors, Oceanico Golf. Oceanico Golf oversees the management and operations of the Group’s golf courses in the Algarve. This  includes the Oceanico Faldo and Oceanico O’Connor Jnr. courses at Amendoeira Golf Resort near Silves, and five renowned courses in Vilamoura (Oceanico Victoria, Oceanico Old Course, Oceanico Pinhal, Oceanico Millennium and Oceanico Laguna). They also host the Portugueese Masters at Victoria golf course each October. Long may their
assocation continue as with the current economic climate
Portugal and the Algarve in particular can only benefit from this publicity.   
Is the Handicap System as fair as it should be for Matchplay Golf?

  The complex system ( as recommended by the R&A ) used to establish
the index of most difficult to easiest golfhole on any golfcourse means
 that few reflect the accurate order of difficulty for each
 hole. Nevertheless it does strike me as unfair that the higher handicap 
player receives an extra shot at the more difficult holes. By definition it means that when playing the easier  holes the advantage is with the
 lower handicap player.  A single figure handicap  player is more likely to play PAR golf at the easier holes, making it  extremely hard for the  higher handicapper to beat him/her at these easier holes.  Add to this that for matchplay it is agreed to calculate 3/4 of the difference of the handicaps between the two players and the odds are even more in favour of the lower handicap player.  The answer is for the higher handicap golfer to benefit from the extra shot at the easier holes. 

One other calculation UK players do not benefit from is the slope rating 
of the course where they are playing. A system automatically used on continental Europe. Every so many years a delegation from the
national golf federation visits the golfcourse to take into account
any changes to the course compared to the golfcourse they have on
 record.  They will for example measure the length of each hole,  the number of hazards to negotiate, the difficulty of each teeshot considering out of bounds and many other factors. An average golfcourse scores a slope rating of 122 points. Is the rating of the course where you are
 playing easier or more difficult compared to your home course an adjustment will be made to your handicap for that round.  
Suggest you  play of 16 handicap at your home course with a slope rating
 of 124. You are playing  in a competition at a course with 120 rating.
 Your handicap will, for this round, be  reduced to 14. Seems fair to me.  
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