The Santo da Serra
Golf course is a fair distance from Funchal. Indeed you need to return to the
airport on the motorway to get to about halfway the distance from Funchal to Santo
da Serra. Plan a good 25 or 30 minutes from say, the lido area of hotels, in
Funchal to get to the course. Fortunately, the roads are quite good and the
time taken to get there can be used to admire the wonderful scenery.
The Robert Trent Jones
designed Santo da Serra Golf course is the granddaddy of Madeiran golf and
hosts the important Madeira Island Open each year – a fixture on the European
PGA tour. It has been referred to by many golfing sources as “spectacular” and
testimony to this must also be the wonderful views that the course provides
over the city of Machico and the Desertas islands through several of its holes.
The site does lie at
about 700 metres above sea level, and although the air quality and temperature is
excellent all year round it can get misty in the winter months. The great irony
about weather conditions in Santo da Serra is to expect the opposite to what
may be experienced in Funchal. Sometimes, it may be pouring rain in Funchal and
it is blazing sun with buzzing bees in Santo da Serra! We recommend to call
ahead to find out what conditions are like before assuming that what “goes for
Funchal goes for Santo da Serra” in terms of the weather.
There are three 9-hole
circuits, the “Machico” circuit (named after the small city at the bottom of
the steep drop from the mountainous top where the course lies), the “Desertas”
circuit (as this overlooks the “Desertas” islands down south), and the “Serras”
course (which in turn refers to the place and the trees where it is located).
Holes 2,3 and 4 are of
the Machico circuit are probably the most memorable. The 179 metre 4th
hole requires the golfer’s best attempt at accuracy and concentration – between
the tee and the green lies a vast ravine or chasm and getting to the “well-guarded”
green is an exciting challenge. If you manage to get a birdie here it would be
considered a most excellent and praiseworthy result.
With the option of at
least four tees on each hole the course provides for challenging tours or, for
the less inclined to battle it out, a more leisurely and calm golfing
The immaculately well
kept and manicured fairways, greens, even the roughs and semi-roughs are world
standard. The course is surrounded by lush green exotic flora and adorned with
ornamental ponds and lakes with careful protection of old arboreal treasures
dotted all across the course.
Quite well know
celebrities have been found to golf here – don’t be surprised if you find
yourself bumping into Prince Andrew or other notable European figures on the