Skip to main content


Palheiro Golf

This course, featuring Madeira's typical rugged terrain, offers a challenge for the more experienced golfers.

Set within the magnificent Palheiro Estate and lying adjacent to the five-star hotel - Casa Velha do Palheiro - a Relais & Châteaux property - the 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course meanders through a pristine environment of maritime pine and botanical woodland embroidered with lush, sub-tropical vegetation.

At nearly 500 m (1640 ft) above sea level, the location is blessed with dramatic views of Madeira's mountainous skyline and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Nestling below just 10 minutes away is Funchal, the island's capital.

Designed by renowned golf architect Cabell B. Robinson, this picturesque layout with year-round appeal takes full advantage of Madeira’s hilly terrain, with abrupt ridges and deep valleys providing a compelling challenge for even the most seasoned golfer.
Palheiro Golf Course Holes
Five separate tee platforms use the natural terrain to provide ample variation in course length. The uphill drive off the tee is best played to the right of 2 small bunkers on the outer side of the dogleg, to open up the second shot and avoid the deep tree-lined valley on the left. The green is elevated with deep bunkering on the right side.
Tees play out from a line of impressive monterey cypresses to a well-defined landing area. The rough on the right slopes sharply to the forest, and a large bunker narrows the driving area for the big hitter. Using the hillside short of the bunker brings the ball back into the centre of the fairway. The green is open, fairly long and undulating. Three bunkers on the right catch wayward shots.
From bracken-surrounded tees, the fairway tumbles down to a long wavy green at the base of four magnificent monterey pines. Humps, hollows and bunkers keep all but the lucky shot from rolling onto the surface.
This is the 'local knowledge' hole, so don't let the short 308 metres deceive you. The fairway kicks left just beyond the rise to an uphill landing area, so a long drive could disappear into madeira's lush undergrowth. Cleverly placed shallow bunkers on the left may prevent a lost ball. The large flat green sits surrounded by agapanthus at the base of a huge evergreen screen.
A pretty little downhill par 3 skirts palheiro's gardens, near red oaks from america, giant tropical banana trees and australian acacias. The moderately large green is well-tilted to receive shots, with various small bunkers scattered about.
A walk along the edge of the gardens brings you to the eighth tee, set in a grove of persimmon trees. Suddenly out in the open for the next 5 or 6 holes, the course takes on a different character. At 525 metres, this is an honest par 5, reachable in two. Play off the hillside on the drive and then down towards the bunkers on the right. The large green is surrounded by a hillside of proteas, the spectacular flower seen so often for sale in funchal.
Back tees float like islands in the sea of proteas, but this downhill one-shotter is a deceptively long 199 metres. The large diagonal green is one of the course's most interesting with the pin area a pronounced punchbowl in the green surface itself. The tee shot must carry the deep bunker along the left front. Varying angles from the forward tees make this equally attractive for ladies.
Place the drive out to the right from the high elevated tees, towards the pot bunkers at the base of the large oak trees. The wide shallow green is separated from the landing area by a broad valley, with a deep bunker to the left front and side. The distance across the valley is deceptive but the rear slope is user-friendly.
The tee shot plays back towards the gardens across a dip. Fairway bunkers help the player orientate himself on the tees and ladies have favoured treatment on the angle of the dogleg. The approach is slightly downhill to the undulating green in plain view, although it is difficult to attack directly from the left. Exotic trees all around make this one of the loveliest and most natural settings on the course.
The shortest par 5 of the back nine at 445 metres, nonetheless the most difficult to reach in two. Tall plane trees on the left of the narrow fairway obscure a shot to the elevated green, but farther down on the right is a large pine. Try an easy 2 or 3 iron down the right centre off the tee. Otherwise, two more easy irons should get you to the long undulating green.
Reminiscent of number 7, a mid-iron is required here to the tight green. The views out to the ocean and desertas islands can ruin the concentration needed on the tee. Short is safe, and you might just roll on. Long, left or way right: reload or proceed to the next tee.
One of the few that permits a long draw off the tee. A push or mild slice should not be a problem, however. The second and third play up a long valley with ridges and deep hollows to an elevated green of bumps and grinds. The green is open from the right but the second shot must negotiate a large sentinel pine and some fairway bunkers. Even good players should be content putting for birdies.
The only par 3 which is level and not downhill. From the back tee it is a complete carry over steep lily-covered slopes. The more forward tees to the right require less carry, or none at all, but the fairway is very narrow to a fairly large and relatively flat green.
Two long par 4s on the way home. Elevated tees play across another chasm, but the fairway bunker on the right should be carryable and gives a good line. Lots of fairway lies out of sight behind it. A straight tee shot to the left would result in a longer second. The long approach must carry two deep hollows just short of the green. Keep the ball right - the major and obvious trouble is always left.
Decision time from the tee on this par 5 that doglegs to the left. Being brave shaving the left side from the tee can be rewarding giving extra distance but trouble is near. If laying up for position, take into account the kapok tree guarding the green. Many a ball has been spiked on this deceivingly pretty tree. The large green will make a difference in your club selection for your approach.
This short par 4 is all about finding the right spot from your tee shot. The right side of the fairway gives the perfect angle to attack any flag position. Beware of oob running down the left side of this hole. The plateaux green is fairly raised and so should be added to your calculations when choosing your approach club. Enjoy the views of the atlantic after your par!
The toughest par 4 on the back nine, requiring both distance and accuracy. The fairway slopes sharply from the left. The green is sharply elevated above the fairway level; a deft chip is needed if you end up in one of the deep grassy holes in front. The hillside left and rear of the green is friendly and should be used to full advantage on the approach. Bunkers around the green, as with others on the course, are to save the slightly errant shot.
Rock groupings in view from the tee show the safe left-hand limits of the landing area. A gentle uphill walk to your drive brings you to palheiro's spectacular finish. The elevated centre of the fairway has a dazzling view out to the ocean and down to the green and clubhouse in the pines. The confident and adventurous can go for the green through the opening to the right of the cypress. Conservative players have a lot of fairway to hit to down and to the left of the tree. Eagles to double bogeys - everything is possible on this wonderful finishing hole.

"One of the most beautiful places in the world in which to play golf".

(Malcolm Campbell - Golf Monthly)