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Golfing in Madeira

Palheiro, Santo do Serra & Porto Santo Golf

The Madeira archipelago is home to three breathtaking golf courses. Two of the courses – Palheiro Golf  (pictured) and Santo do Serra – are on Madeira itself, while the third, Porto Santo, lies a short hop away on the island of the same name, one of four comprising the archipelago.


Robert Trent Jones Snr’s 1991 redesign of Santo da Serra – which dates originally from 1937 – created a spectacular 27-hole complex in a beautiful natural landscape, with views of Porto Santo and the bay of Machico, where Portuguese navigators first landed in 1419.


The Machico and Desertas nines form the 6,825-yard championship course, on which the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open was held on 10 occasions – Mark James winning the inaugural 1993 tournament. The third and fourth on the Machico are regarded as the signature holes, sitting atop cliffs more than 2,200ft above the Atlantic.

The 3,193-yard Serras course offers a delightful alternative, with lakes and mountain views along flatter terrain.


The Cabell B Robinson -designed Palheiro Golf opened in 1993 and sits within the magnificent Palheiro Estate, which is more than 200 years old. The course borders the five-star Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro and meanders through a pristine environment of maritime pine and botanical woodland, garnished with lush, sub-tropical vegetation.

And, at nearly 1,640ft above sea level, the location enjoys dramatic views of Madeira’s mountainous skyline and the vast Atlantic Ocean, as well as – nestling below, just 10 minutes away – the island’s capital, Funchal.

The par-72, 6,656-yard course takes full advantage of Madeira’s hilly terrain, with abrupt ridges and deep valleys. It is listed inside continental Europe’s top 200 in one benchmark course ranking, and the presence of a splendid hotel, secured a spot for Palheiro in the top 80 in two recent ‘best European golf resort’ lists.


A short, 20-minute flight – or a two-and-a-half hour cruise – will cover the 27 miles between Madeira and the archipelago’s eastern-most island, Porto Santo, home to Porto Santo Golfe, which hosted the Madeira Islands Open between 2009 and 2011.

Laid out by Severiano Ballesteros, the 7,036-yard course, which opened in 2004 and was built to environmentally conscious standards, comprises two distinct nines, spanning an area from sand dunes to basalt cliffs.

The US-style southern route is dotted with lakes, requiring a long, precise game; while the northern route is atop yet more fantastic cliffs, near a stunning beach, also called Porto Santo. The signature hole is undoubtedly the 200-yard, par-three 13th, which requires a shot over a gorge to reach a cliff-top green.


With the island of Madeira covering an area of just 286 square miles, and with the capital Funchal its hub, it’s easy to get around – so much so that if you book a tee-time the golf club may very well send a shuttle to pick you up and return you to your hotel.


Please call your A Golfing Experience agent about golf holidays to Madeira on 01494 875164

A Golfing Experience Ltd

Golf Travel Specialists Since 1989


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