Golf is blooming in Madeira this autumn with the Covid-19 pandemic offering players the unexpected opportunity to indulge in the world-famous culture and history of the island.
Travelling golfers can combine golf on three outstanding 18-hole courses with the added bonus of experiencing some of Madeira’s most celebrated annual events until the end of September, including its globally-renowned Flower Festival and Wine Festival.
Traditionally held each May and centred around the island’s capital of Funchal, the 2020 Flower Festival had to be postponed and rearranged earlier this year following the outbreak of coronavirus.
Now taking place from September 3-27, the three-week festival offers visitors the unforgettable chance to experience a kaleidoscope of colour and the magic that runs through the municipalities of the Madeira archipelago with an array of unique exhibits made totally from flowers.
Running at the same time, the Madeira Wine Festival invites guests to raise a glass and sample a plethora of the island’s world-famous fortified wines while tasting a range of regional snacks and enjoying one of the many live concerts.
Madeira and her islands – which were last year hailed as the ‘world’s best emerging golf destination’ at the World Golf Awards, and as Europe’s ‘leading island destination’ for the fourth successive year, as well as the world’s ‘leading island destination’ for a staggering fifth year running in the 2019 World Travel Awards – reopened to international visitors on July 1. Madeira is home to three magnificent golf courses in total, with Santo da Serra and Palheiro Golf located on the mainland, and Porto Santo Golf located on the nearby island of Porto Santo. The par-72, 6,656-yard (6,086m) course at Palheiro Golf – designed by Robinson – is situated within the magnificent Palheiro Estate, which is more than 200 years old. At nearly 1,640ft above sea level, the location enjoys dramatic views of Madeira’s mountainous skyline and the ocean, as well as – nestling below, just 10 minutes away – the island’s capital, Funchal.
The original course at Santo da Serra, dating from 1937, was redesigned in 1991 by Robert Trent Jones Snr, who created a new and spectacular 27-hole complex. The third and fourth holes of the Machico course are regarded as the signature holes, sitting atop cliffs more than 2,200ft above sea level, providing views of the bay of Machico, where Portuguese navigators first landed in 1419.
The 27-hole, Severiano Ballesteros-designed Porto Santo Golf is a short plane hop or ferry ride away. The par-72, 7,036-yard (6,434m) course, which opened in 2004, comprises two distinct nines. The southern route – a US-style layout – is dotted with lakes, requiring a long and precise game; while the northern route is atop fantastic cliffs, near the stunning beach of the same name.
Located approximately 1,000km from the European mainland – and just 500km from the African continent – Madeira enjoys an amazingly mild climate, ranging from 25°c in the summer to 17°c in the winter, with very mild average temperatures and moderate humidity, making it the perfect year-round destination for a golf break.
The best way to enjoy the archipelago’s golf is with a Madeira Golf Passport – available from most hotels and the golf clubs – which entitles the bearer to five rounds of golf across the two ‘mainland’ tracks: Santo da Serra and Palheiro Golf.