Rainy winter stops play  at Algarve golf courses

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Wet weather over the winter has put a dampener on the golfing industry in the Algarve as the number of golfers hitting the greens dropped by almost 18 per cent during January in comparison to the same period last year.

Christopher Stilwell, President of the Algarve Golf Association, told the Algarve Resident: “During January, the number of golfers was down by 17.63 per cent compared to last year, while in February the numbers were down 7.21 per cent. The figures are not yet in for March, however we are hoping to see slightly better numbers.”

The large drop in the number of golfers playing in the Algarve is, according to Christopher Stilwell, down to the prolonged period of bad weather experienced in the region between November 2009 and February 2010.  

“I have no doubt that the fall in golfers was due to the weather this winter. We had more than double the rainfall that is normal during an entire year this winter,” he said.

The figures take into account the number of golfers who played at all 36 courses across the Algarve, however, some courses have fared better than others during the wet winter.

On the Oceânico courses, the number of players was up by 1.44 per cent in February and a similar increase is expected for March.

José Matias, the executive director of Carvoeiro Golf, told the Algarve Resident: “There has been a decrease in golfers because of the bad weather, however at the Pestana courses this was only slight.  We had many reservations because of the generally bad weather across Europe, however many had to be cancelled as golfers were unable to play because of the rain.

“Now that Easter has passed, we are seeing numbers increasing again and with cheap flights, quality hotels and excellent golf courses, the Algarve remains the best place in Europe, if not the world, for golfers to visit,” added José Matias.

The Algarve remains a popular choice for golfers and continued marketing of the region as a golfing destination by both government agencies and private companies is helping to keep the profile of the region high.

Christopher Stilwell said: “Numbers of golfers are still nowhere near the 2008 levels, however we are expecting to see an increase on the 2009 figures this year.

He added: “There will be no major increases in the number of golfers and as an industry, we are heavily reliant on the British market so we will have to wait and see what happens.  Things are looking positive for the future though.”

Meanwhile, for the third consecutive year, the Algarve region has been voted as the best golfing destination in Europe by German magazine, GOLF Magazin.

The Algarve was chosen by readers of the magazine and golf industry experts because of a combination of the excellent infrastructure of luxury hotels in the region and the high quality golf courses across the Algarve.

The region beat off competition from less traditional golfing destinations including Bavaria and Belek, Turkey.