Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

HERE was a time when sim­ply dan­gling the prospect of a sun-blessed trip in front of a golfer left frus­trated by the fick­le­ness of the English weather was enough to en­tice them abroad.

The lure of golf­ing in T-shirt and shorts while back home the hardy are bat­tling soggy fair­ways and plum­met­ing tem­per­a­tures sparked a boom in over­seas golf trips.

Aided by low cost air travel, places such as Spain or the Algarve in Por­tu­gal be­came within easy reach.

But con­sumer tastes change – as do life­styles – and the kind of is­sues con­fronting golf clubs on a day to day ba­sis have a knock-on ef­fect.

The work-home bal­ance and de­mands of fam­ily life means the es­tab­lished golf re­sorts are look­ing to em­brace a broader ap­peal.

Which is why an al­ready hugely pop­u­lar re­sort like Quinta do Lago has pumped an in­cred­i­ble €50m into up­grad­ing ev­ery­thing from the cour­ses to be played, the places to stay and the food to be served.

The fam­ily mar­ket is on the radar, too, with its easy ac­ces­si­bil­ity to the Algarve’s beaches and spe­cial events – such as movie nights on the driv­ing range – with one eye firmly on the younger end of the spec­trum as an all-year round des­ti­na­tion.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion, too, can come with a fam­ily theme. The Mart­in­hal, for ex­am­ple, is thriv­ing un­der new own­er­ship as an up-mar­ket col­lec­tion of town­houses and won­der­fully spa­cious vil­las – with bed­rooms all en-suite – which all boast their own gar­den and pool.

Enough to keep splash­happy kids en­ter­tained, lit­er­ally on your doorstep.

Throw in a kids’ club for the un­der-eights, a games room and an ul­tra-cool pool hang­out area – com­plete with slides and a VW camper van! – and Mart­in­hal is stak­ing a se­ri­ous claim for the fam­ily mar­ket.

The route to the Algarve is al­ready a well-worn one – it has been a mag­net for UK tourists for the last 50 years. Break­fast at home can soon be fol­lowed by tee­ing it up in Por­tu­gal in the af­ter­noon, with the coast­line’s run of 43 golf cour­ses start­ing just 20 min­utes from Faro air­port.

Quinta’s pedi­gree is well es­tab­lished – this is not cheap as chips. Al­ready at the higher end of the mar­ket the re­cent in­vest­ment places them firmly in the re­gion’s top bracket. But there is lit­tle sign of it suf­fer­ing from post-Brexit blues.

At the heart of it all is still the golf – three cour­ses and an Academy which bears the name of Ry­der Cup win­ning cap­tain Paul McGin­ley.

The North course has ac­tu­ally been ripped up and re­con­structed while the roller-coaster ride of the South has the wow fac­tor.

A third course has been added at Laran­jal – the trio as dif­fer­ent in char­ac­ter as the Marx broth­ers.

Split­ting them might be tricky – but I will plump for the back nine on the South course as the pick of the bunch. It sweeps through the hill­side like a cav­al­cade that de­serves a ticker-tape wel­come, ris­ing and fall­ing through the hills like the pound on a Black Fri­day.

The open­ing nine are clas­sic re­sort golf, tip­toe­ing be­tween prop­er­ties that would keep Grand De­signs in pro­grammes for years.

For­tu­nately, there is plenty of space and even the most way­ward will miss land­ing in some­one’s bar­beque. I know. I tried!

The greens boast all the smooth­ness of a sales­man’s pat­ter.

The soft-filled cen­tres of the bunkers were, per­haps, to be ex­pected but given that this was not an out and out links course the fact that they had more lip than a surly teenager was more of a sur­prise and ready to catch out an un­der-cooked es­cape shot.

The South comes into its own on the sec­ond nine – thanks to the in­cred­i­ble el­e­va­tion of the course, which at times ex­tends above the neighbouring tree line – so much so that it feels like you are golf­ing with the gods.

The re­sult is a stun­ning col­lec­tion of tee shots that re­sem­ble launch­ing an Ap­pollo mis­sion.

Weave in a few holes that sweep down to the edge of the lake and it is a po­tent mix.

The par three 15th is a great shot over the water while the lake forms a glis­ten­ing back­drop to the green on the next. Tackle the 17th and the water brushes against your tee shot like an un­wanted suitor.

In many ways, the North is a more stately af­fair, not quite the whiteknuckle ride of the South. But it is ev­ery bit as grand with a devil in the greens that can make them harder to fathom than the Large Hadron Col­lider.

The col­lec­tion of short holes is as invit­ing as they are test­ing. The par four 12th makes tak­ing on the water in front of the green al­most un­avoid­able – un­less you tip-toe round the fringes with all the stealth of a cat bur­glar. Even then the green har­bours a real vil­lain of a knuckle that makes it very pos­si­ble to putt back into the water.

The most re­cent ar­rival is the course at nearby Laran­jal. It is a more com­pact af­fair, cloaked by the orange groves that give it its name – and at a cer­tain time of the year the fruit-laden trees add an un­ex­pected splat­ter of bright orange to the swathes of green.

This is a course where the bunkers jos­tle you like com­muters on the Tube in rush hour, while the fact that there are more tees than the

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