You know you made the right vacation location choice when you extend your stay for another day. I’m happy to report that Russ and I definitely made the right choice when we traveled to Portugal’s Penha Longa Resort for our fall 2018 golf vacation. After playing this course, we just had to get another round in!
Penha Longa is tucked right into the beautiful Sintra mountains just outside of Lisbon, Portugal. Originally a monastery dating back to the 14th century, its grounds are rich in history as well as luxury. It’s a must-see destination for golf lovers, as you’ll soon realize!
The Atlantic Championship Course: raw beauty, thoughtful design
Russ and I played the Atlantic championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. It was in great condition. I found it put me into a tranquil state even as I engaged with its many challenges.
The effect of the glowing morning light hitting the trees and interacting with the elevations and angles of the course seemed like an intentional design concept. And it was spectacular.
The terrain surrounding each hole is left in its natural state. Even though I am used to seeing more manicured golf courses in North America, I felt the raw beauty of the land was indicative of Portugal and I appreciated it. Natural trees. Natural environment.
Putting green with the 1st hole in the distance.
Each hole was unique and had a nice flow. I was always excited to see what each tee box was going to bring. I fell in love with all the trees that peppered the course: olive, cork oaks, and eucalyptus.
Every once in a while I had a whiff of something sweet. Fruit? Flowers? I wasn’t sure, but it was intoxicating nonetheless.
Playing Penha Longa: my best round ever
I played my best round of golf ever in Penha Longa. Very exciting! Plus, I didn’t find myself on any beaches (AKA sand traps) the whole round. That was a first.
We arrived for our tee time but our golf clubs hadn’t. Fortunately, the staff quickly figured it out and had our clubs to us in a short time. After a quick warm up on the driving range we were on the first tee.
There was a little bit of wind at the beginning of our round but the temperature quickly warmed up as the sun made its way onto the course. We were very fortunate to be experiencing such warm weather at this time of year in Portugal. In fact, the temperature reached 29 Celcius. Also, the tee boxes, fairways, and greens were all in great condition for so late in the season.
Here’s how my day went on the golf course:
I had a great first tee shot into the fairway but unfortunately I missed my par putt.
On the par 4 3rd hole I had a great wedge shot uphill onto the green.
Tee shot 3rd hole.
On the 4th hole my driver was behaving for a great tee shot onto the open fairway.
On the 5th hole I was indecisive about my club selection. It was an intimidating par 3.
The 6th hole tee shot was downhill and I barely made the fairway. The view is fantastic; you look down on the remains of an aqueduct that is tucked in close to the green.
The 8th hole was a challenging uphill par 5. I struggled on this hole, a double bogey.
But at the turn, there is the cutest little house at the top of the hill that serves drinks and snacks!
The 10th tee shot gave the eye a lot to take in. It was expansive and wide open, with the smell of eucalyptus and fresh cut grass. It was my favourite hole on the golf course.
Keeping my tee shot on 13 to the left side of the fairway was the plan. I settled for a shot straight down the middle, making my 2nd shot more appealing heading to the green.
On the 14th hole I had a great 9 iron shot onto the green.
On the 17th hole I loved that you could see a view of the Pengha Longa Resort in the distance. This downhill par 3 was my friend that day.
Teeing off on the 18th hole, I was sad my round was almost over. That must have been why I wrestled this hole all the way to the end!
approaching the 18th green
A few tips
It’s best to order your buggy at the time of booking. They do not have enough for everyone as they are all pre-booked. Because we had an early tee time we were lucky to be able to secure a buggy for our round.
Keeping your ball in the fairway is always a good idea but if you find yourself in the rough that thick grass will swallow up your club. It’s a different experience than the one you’ll get playing on ultra-manicured courses.
Be careful with your water intake! The first bathroom was after the 9th hole.
Overall, this was definitely a golf expedition to remember. Penha Longa’s staff is friendly and accommodating. Their grounds are spectacular. The golf is challenging yet relaxing. What more could you ask for?