MADEIRA

MADEIRA

A SLICE OF MADEIRA!

Madeira, the pearl of the Atlantic, a verdant oasis combined with 90 miles of dramatically savage coastline, its diminutive size belies its exquisite beauty. A haven of natural tranquility it is often called the “Floating Garden” as it is festooned with flora and fauna. In truth you need only one word to describe Madeira – Paradise!

Madeira is actually an archipelago consisting of three islands, the others being Porto Santo 27 miles northeast of the mother island and the uninhabited Deserta Island. Madeira Island is the largest at 286 square miles, which is 90% of the archipelago’s landmass. Of this, the majority of the terra firma is over 500 feet above sea level.

Claimed for Portugal in 1419 by sailors in the service of Henry the Navigator, Madeira was for a while the world’s largest producer of sugar. Now more famous for its distinctive fortified wine, the wine producing area is a patchwork of precipitous, terraced vineyards most of which are no bigger than the average back garden. When ripe, the crop is painstakingly picked by hand as there is not enough room to park a harvesting machine, let alone use one!

Funchal, the island capital, is built in a massive natural amphitheatre against a backdrop of majestic mountains. Blessed with a deep harbour it has developed into a major port of call for the worlds cruise liners with up to 75 ships per month paying a visit. The harbour is encompassed by a myriad of lively tavernas, wine bars and top quality restaurants. The perfect place to while away the day just watching the world stroll by.

The spectacular cable car journey up to Monte, almost 2000 feet above the harbour, conjures up a multitude of jaw dropping vistas over the city and coast. Even more awesome is the white knuckle ride descent in one of Funchal’s famous wicker toboggans, which hurtle down the steep cobbled streets at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, pursued, pointed and pushed by pristine pilots donned in white uniforms topped off with straw boaters. Take a deep breath and hold on tight!

Although golf was first introduced to Madeira in the 1930s in the shape of a 9 hole course, it wasn’t until the great maestro, Robert Trent Jones Snr was commissioned in 1988 to redesign and lay out an additional 18 holes to the Santo Serra course, that the island came to the attention of golfing nomads. Palheiro Golf followed fairly quickly in 1993, designed by Trent Jones’ disciple, Cabell Robinson, and built on the site of a 200 years old hunting estate. Its flora flanked fairways bear more than a passing resemblance to Augusta National.

The courses are as beautiful as the island itself and the stupendous vistas will have you scrambling for the camera on almost every hole. The adjective “stunning” is much overused, but quite frankly, the views from Palheiro down to Funchal are such, that on this occasion, it is the most apt word to describe them.

The third course is a short plane hop or a two hour ferry cruise away on the island of Porto Santo. Don’t let this deter you as it most definitely enhances what is already a unique golfing experience. Plus, Porto Santo has something its neighbour doesn’t…sand! In swathes of pristine golden beaches.

With a year round balmy climate which never reaches extremes even in the height of summer, Madeira is the ideal destination to enjoy a relaxing golfing holiday combined with culture and fine dining. Don’t leave it too long to visit for….

A SLICE OF MADEIRA!