Espiche Golf at the western end of the Algarve is unlike anything you’ll find in the Quinta do Lago area. This lovely course designed by South African, Peter Sauerman, has the same high standards of service, design and course condition that discerning golfers playing the more expensive Quinta do Lago courses expect – but what sets it apart is the way the course sits naturally within its unspoilt landscape. Surrounded by farms, vineyards and virgin Portuguese countryside, with beautiful farreaching views of the Serra de Monchique hills, there are indigenous trees, wild flowers, and birdlife in abundance.
Espiche Golf, inland from the historic town of Lagos, opened in 2012 but feels mature beyond its years, and that’s because construction of the course actually started over 30 years ago! Set in an ecologically sensitive area, it took a long time to bring the project to fruition. The course is the vision of Englishman Peter Thornton, a former musician who played guitar with 70s pop group.
The Clash and wrote for The Hollies, amongst others. When he moved to the Algarve, Peter could see from the outset the benefits to wildlife and the local community of a golf course at Espiche. Now the course is often cited as an example of best practice in environmentally friendly golf course design and maintenance. The use of environmentally friendly materials extends to the stunning Clubhouse, which opened in 2014. Built from local stone and wood with clever use of glass, solar panels and open spaces, it blends into the local landscape and has attractive elevated terraces and comfortable seating areas to take advantage of the panoramic views, whilst enjoying a drink or light snack.
WHAT IS ESPICHE LIKE TO PLAY?
Four Seasons Fairways members Michele and Brian Hickey are big fans of Espiche Golf. “What I love about the Algarve is the sheer variety of golf on offer,” Michele says. “We like to mix playing local Quinta courses with those further afield – and Espiche Golf is one of our favourite days out. The course is always in good condition and the greens are very tricky. I love the views – especially from the Clubhouse – as well as the challenging golf.” If the wind is blowing, and your driver and fairway woods are misbehaving, Brian recommends that you take some spare balls with you. “If you hit your ball into the untamed rough, it’s gone!” says Brian. “But although I’ve left a good few balls behind at Espiche, I still love it.”
WORLD’S PREMIER GOLF DESTINATION IS THE ALGARVE
At the 20th International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) annual golf tourism awards, held this time in Marrakech, the Algarve secured the top prize as Golf Destination of the Year. IAGTO is the influential body comprising 700 golf tour operators in 63 countries. It controls more than 87% of golf holiday packages sold globally.
To make the honour even more special, this year the award was for just one overall Golf Destination of the Year category, instead of separate awards for five geographical regions.