What better place to experience captivating golf courses and an IVHE luxury home exchange than Portugal.
I was fortunate to interview professional golfer and former tour player, Byron Easterling, who frequented Portugal while pursuing the European SPGA tour. The qualifying school for the senior tour was held at Pestana Resort courses: Vila Sol Golf, Pinta Golf, Silves Golf. Quinta do Lago and Pinheiros Altos Golf Resort.
Byron enthusiastically shared with me his fondness for the golf community in the Faro district in southern Portugal. He says, “Faro is the main city. You can see Algarve on the map, there’s a lot of golf courses in there. People from all over Europe come to play. It’s a hot spot for golfers, especially in the winter.”
Doesn’t surprise me that Byron has a liking for Portugal since there are some similarities between Faro and his hometown, Santa Barbara, California. He explains, “It’s very temperate. Same temperature all year. Not a lot of fluctuation.”
The southern part of Portugal is adorned with breathtaking countryside, countless foothills, lots of palm trees and you’re continually close to the water.
Byron shares, “There’s that ocean feel on the golf courses, not necessarily links, it’s that you’re never more than 20 minutes from the water. Portugal has exquisite sunsets, thanks to its ocean surroundings. I’d catch them in the evenings when I’d be at the range practicing.”
Southern Portugal is known for their community vibe, warmly welcoming visitors. With the added bonus of the senior tour qualifying rounds being held in the area, the Portuguese communities embrace these golf tournaments as part of their cultural society. “I made great relationships with non-participants”, reminisces Byron.
Quaint streets uphold the famous small town European cobblestone flare, with pedestrians and bicyclists enjoying leisurely promenades.
Yah but ,what about food? Ok ok, I’ll get to the yummy part!
Byron shares, “My favourite choice of beverage is wine which they have both local and international wines available. And of course Port, a great way to finish a meal. Their port wines are very good.”
The restaurants are a collection of diverse culture, a flavor of European cuisine. Inviting patios and stunning marinas contribute to an irresistible atmosphere. Right off the bay area, close to the boats and docks, are numerous restaurants and pubs to choose from.
“I enjoyed going to a British pub to watch the soccer game, have a good beer and eat fish and chips. My caddy and I also found an Italian restaurant where their wines and food were marvelous!” Byron adds, “You’d sit in these places and sure enough people from various different countries would show up, coming down for golf tours to play together with friends and families. We’d end up enjoying festive evenings with great people; people from all over the world!”
Of course, we must not forget the friendly cafés and delicious specialty coffees. Byron had a routine: “I had a café after every round. I’d hang by myself. They got to know me on the waterfront. I’d have a coffee and a pastry and sit and do emails and catch up and chat with the locals.”
I asked Byron why he’d encourage people to vacation in Southern Portugal. He says, “The culture and the atmosphere are so inviting and the people are very warm and of course the courses are great. Really good golf courses. People need to go just to experience the atmosphere.”
And which golf courses do you recommend, Byron? “Karen, I’d promote all the golf courses”, he states confidently.
He adds, “There’s a real honour there amongst the golfers. And they really do honour good golf. They welcome everyone and anybody to play. They make it fun. They really do make it fun there.”
Thanks Byron for the inspiration. I think Portugal is calling my name…
Karen Thrall Business Coach | Golf Fanatic | www.karenthrall.com