Sustainable Golf in the Algarve: Espiche

According to a recent Golf Travel Insights report published by KPMG's Golf Advisory Practice, 60% of golf tour operators experienced an increase in bookings in 2011, vs only 38 per cent in 2010. Spain and Portugal continue to be the most popular destinations and even saw an average price drop of 10-20 per cent for golf holiday packages in 2011.

Environmental sustainability has become a center focus of many of these resorts that must appeal to today's eco-conscious traveler and prepare for times where resources will become less available and more expensive. For an example we go to Espiche golf course, in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Sustainable Golf in the Algarve: Espiche
Polly Allen

Golf is a very serious business in Portugal, thanks to its international status as a top golfing destination for both professionals and amateurs. Golf holidays in the Algarve region are increasingly popular, but one new club has decided to go the extra mile and provide a sustainable course experience for every player. Espiche is set within an ecological reserve in the western Algarve and respects the local landscape by using key sustainability principles in the design and running of the course.

The Algarvian Environment

Situated in the southernmost part of Portugal, the Algarve enjoys a warm climate with enough average annual sunshine to more than match California. Mediterranean conditions mean that olive and carob trees grow comfortably here, as well as pine forests and groves of oranges and lemons. On the course itself you’ll find that every single plant is either naturally occurring, has been planted because it is native to the region, or has been specially chosen to compliment the dry weather. Golf architect Peter Sauerman wanted Espiche to blend in with its surroundings and give something back to the landscape.

Specially Selected Grass

Because the area doesn’t receive much rainfall, grasses were selected in order to maximize water retention and cope with the warm season. Paspalum was chosen for the greens as it’s ideal for the coastal landscape thanks to its hardiness in the conditions, whilst darker Bermuda grass makes up the fairways and other areas of the course. In the winter the grass lays dormant and does not need to be watered or fertilized, which helps to prevent erosion and damage to the aquifer layer underneath the surface.

On-going Sustainability Research

Espiche Golf is committed to staying sustainable, and part of this involves trying to understand the biodiversity of the western Algarve. The course has teamed up with biologists and students at the University of the Algarve, which will lead to environmental research projects and a greater knowledge of the land itself. Everyone, from the course architect to those behind its daily running, has an interest in seeing the environment flourish. With beautiful views of the Monchique hills and the surrounding countryside, there’s plenty to take in here.

Your Game at Espiche

Golf director Peter Tacon Thornton says of the par 72 course: “The fairways cleverly make full use of the natural undulating slopes and hollows, calling for precise and thoughtful driving,” which certainly makes for an interesting round. He continues: “The brilliantly sculptured and sited greens require the player to use the whole variety of pitch shots.”

Popular with both experienced and infrequent golfers, Espiche offers a challenging but ultimately scenic layout. What’s more, this is the only independent course in the Algarve. Over the rest of the year there will be a club house, pro shop and putting green, to ensure that golfers have everything they need  on their visit. Until then, the stunning panorama and the indigenous plant life are both sure to catch the eye of anyone who takes to the course. For more information on the course itself, please visit

1 Comments so far

Algarve  is the best place   for to play golf . nice blog thanks for sharing post  and nice  pics too.
Algarve Golf Holidays