In the first initiative of its kind, a new scheme has been launched to promote golf in the Porto region - the birthplace of the game in Portugal . Including some of the region's finest golf clubs, accommodation providers and resorts, a new dedicated destination group has been established with the expressed aim of promoting the region to an international audience.
Bringing together five 18-hole golf courses and a selection of top-class hotels, the members of the Porto Golf Group reflect the diverse range of golf on offer in this beautiful region of Portugal . As Helena Gonçalves, executive director of the Porto & Northern Portugal Tourism Board, explained, the group was created with Porto 's rich heritage in mind.
"The north of Portugal not only offers a large number of golf courses but also huge variety and choice. For instance, it is possible to play golf in the mountains, by the seaside or near the city," she explained. "Until now, these golfing options have only been explored by a few visiting golfers. With this new group, and the network that surrounds it, we believe we can help visitors uncover Porto and the North of Portugal as a perfect golfing destination."
Gonçalves continues: "After golf, visitors can sample our famous Port wine, excellent gastronomy and authentic hospitality before exploring four UNESCO World Heritages sites, our historical cities, rivers, mountains and the ocean. There is just so much to enjoy."
Despite a history stretching back over 120 years, there has never been an organisation in the Porto region with the sole aim of promoting golf. The Porto Golf Group has been established to fulfil this role. "An initiative like this has never been properly established in this region before," said Gonçalves. "The Tourism Board will do its upmost to help promote the work of the group through marketing initiatives, media campaigns and familiarisation trips. After all, our region is known as the 'essence' of Portugal , so it is essential we promote golf in Porto and the North of Portugal in a similar way."
Although the north of Portugal may be a relatively new destination for many visitors, it has in fact a long history of attracting discerning golfers with a taste for the finer things in life. For example, Oporto Golf Club was established by British expatriates attracted by the delicious Port wine. Founded in 1890, it is one of the oldest golf courses in continental Europe . By comparison, Vidago Palace was originally laid out in 1936 and was recently redesigned to USGA specifications and extended to 18 holes, making it one of the newest.
The region also boasts the firm and fast links at Estela Golf Club which enjoys incredible views over the North Atlantic Ocean . Inland, you will find the spectacular Amarante Golf Club, with the Marão and Aboboreira mountain ranges as a backdrop, and the Axis Golf Ponte de Lima which weaves its way through the Minho countryside and Lima valley.
"Golf in Porto offers a range of golfing experiences from 100-year-old traditional links courses to modern resorts with sumptuous spas and fantastic dining," noted Alexandre Barroso, director of golf at Vidago Palace Hotel and spokesperson for the Porto Golf Group. "The area is blessed with a rich cultural heritage and a passion for cuisine. The golf courses are designed to be played with many enjoying incredible views free from green-side property developments. They are also remarkably peaceful so you don't need to book tee times. Other places were built for tourism. In the Porto region, we created it!"
The Porto Golf Group will be attending a number of golf exhibitions including Salon du Golf and Golf Live.