The Jewel of Portuguese Golf
A sneaky November trip to the jewel of Portuguese Golf
Inspired by the need to get a little bit of late Autumn sunshine (more of that anon) your intrepid blogger and my companion were Lisbon bound on the Aer Lingus redeye. Thankfully baggage, golf clubs, myself and my companion were reunited in the arrivals hall and were quickly on route towards the Praia d’El Rey resort, located 60 minutes drive north of Lisbon Portela airport.
There are a number of accommodation options available at the Resort – including a Marriott hotel and various self catering options. We chose a two bed apartment which was clean, spacious and generally very well appointed
After stocking up the pantry for the week ahead an early night was had prior to the mid morning tee-time that awaited us the next day. Golf in Praia D’El Rey represents all that is good about Portuguese seaside golf. Clever design routes the golfer though bush, scrub, between sand hills and alongside coastal bluffs. I was reminded of a previous trip to the MacKenzie designed New South Wales Golf Club in Sydney Australia, not a bad comparison for any course!
The front nine eases you into action, giving you a few chances provided your game is on song, the course begins to bear some teeth when you survey the challenge that the par 4, 5th represents.
The pick of the holes (13-17) come on the back nine as you tumble towards the pumping Atlantic surf, watch out for 17, it’s a monster 620 yards off the tips. 18 provides a classy finish to a raised green nicely framed amongst the trees and bush.
Day two saw us decamp up the road to play West Cliffs, the new Cynthia Dye designed seaside course, set on 200 hectares of Silver Coast real estate. I suspect that as time passes, West Cliffs may well rival its near neighbour Praia D’El Rey in the property development stakes, however, for the time being development has yet to ignite.
Opening in 2017 this place has quietly reached the number 2 position in the Portuguese rankings (source top100golfcourses.com). Having played the number one ranked course (Monte Rei), I would argue that West Cliffs is a better golf course that asks more questions, provides greater thrills and is just more interesting when it comes to my taste.
The scale of the property will take your breath away. The scene is set with the location of the practice tee, the fairway ripples and rolls its way out toward the breaking surf. This is a golf course for golfers of some ability, it will eat you up and spit you out – particularly as the wind gets up (as it always does) throughout the day.
Many of the holes are completely separate from each other which adds to the feeling of seclusion, as if you’ve just been made aware of the very special secret that West Cliffs represents. Put simply, West Cliffs is a bucket list trip…. you simply must check this place out.
If you are playing as a two (as we were), I would recommend an early tee-time as 5.5 hour rounds are not uncommon.
One thing you can be sure of is that you will have some wind to contend with, this place has more in common with Rosses Point and Lahinch than it does with its Algarve brothers and sisters.
Before concluding this blog I would like to cover both the culinary and entertainment availability. As with most resort type offerings the culinary options are an extension of the same theme, the pick of the foody options is the restaurant at West Cliffs, I can recommend heartily their deconstructed Pastel de Nata (a gloriously indulgent Portugese custard tart) , food at the Praia d’El Rey clubhouse is nice enough with a bit of variety, the Club Sandwich at the Marriott Hotel also comes with a personal recommendation if you are peckish before or after your golfing endeavours.
The entertainment options onsite are somewhat limited (in November anyway), my advice would be to be self sufficient i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime, SkyGo, cards, reading etc. Peniche is the nearest metropolis to the resort is located some 25 minutes drive from the resort, you will find bars, clubs and shopping here with a Surfer Dude and Dudette focus. I guess what I’m saying is that a trip to Praia d’El Rey is likely to be a relaxing one on the entertainment side, with early nights, reading and spectacular golf.
Hindsight is a great thing! The only thing I would change about this holiday would be its timing. The weather wasn’t great, however, it only stopped us playing one day out of 5 and the sun did make a number of appearances J. It didn’t bother me too much as I managed to don shorts everyday – I was on holidays after all.
Enjoy, I’m jealous just thinking about it!
Thank you for reading & be sure to contact Golfbreaks.ie for your next golf trip.