Swing along to Portugal: With acres of rolling fairways and a glorious beach, this Algarve golf resort is a hole in one
- Mark Jones heads to Vale do Lobo, near Faro, for a lesson with a pro golfer
- The 1,200-acre resort encompasses 1,500 villas, townhouses and apartments
- Families will enjoy relaxing on the resort’s sandy beach, which faces the Atlantic
Lunch was in full flow on the terrace of U&Co, a restaurant on the Praça, a beachside square at the Portuguese resort of Vale do Lobo. Then panic broke out.
A storm suddenly blew in from the Atlantic. Splats of heavy rain soaked the diners as they grabbed up plates and ran for shelter.
I stayed where I was, briefly noting what a pretty colour the sea was. My mind was in another place. I was thinking about golf.
Tee time: The spectacular Vale do Lobo golf course. ‘Most guests were British and most were golfers,’ Mark says of the resort
Golf is like measles, the writer P. G. Wodehouse once observed: ‘It should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results may be serious.’
I have a serious case of middle-aged golf.
The crisis came as I duffed my way around a course in the Scottish Borders. By the 7th hole, as a wedge shot headed sideways towards a silver birch, I had come to that dreaded choice all rubbish golfers fear: either sort out your game or take up fishing.
That’s what had brought me to Vale do Lobo and an encounter with Steve, the Pro Golfer.
My experiences with golf coaches are mixed, but I liked Steve immediately. His accent helped. My family straddles the border between the East and West Midlands, and I know a Coventry boy when I hear one.
The Portuguese resort is just a 20-minute drive from Faro, pictured, the capital of the Algarve
Vale do Lobo, a 20-minute drive from Faro, is huge: 1,200 acres, 1,500 villas, townhouses and apartments, a long sandy beach.
There’s a complimentary shuttle service to ferry you from your lodging to the beach and the golf course. Most people here rent villas and houses — or own one, like John and Jan from Stratford, who were visiting the place they had bought pre-Covid for the first time. Was it that one that looked like a cross between an art gallery and a presidential palace, I asked them. They laughingly admitted theirs was humbler.
The resort feels five-star but it’s not a hotel. Some villas are owned and rented out; others, like mine, belong to the resort. It had a barbecue, a big kitchen and small pool. But there’s no one to carry your golf bag to the door.
A bird’s-eye view of the resort, which Mark describes as ‘five-star’
There’s a big upside, though. It’s your place, and if you are a group of mates on a golfing break or a family who just want to relax on a quiet, clean Atlantic beach, it’ll soon feel like home.
Most guests were British and most were golfers. After our second lesson, Steve took me in a buggy to a quiet part of the course. I kept my legs rooted as instructed, my eye on the ball… and played like a god (for three holes, anyway).
But I observed Steve’s number one rule: don’t grip the club too tightly. On a scale of one to ten, my grip was a nine. I needed to relax to a three. As soon as I relaxed, the club swung elegantly to the ball.
At the airport, I realised Steve’s one-to-ten scale was a good life lesson. I was gripping my carry-on bag until my knuckles went white, so I relaxed to a three. My shoulders loosened, my head cleared — and I breezed through security with a smile.