‘Covid has allowed us to produce splendid playing conditions’

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 21, 2021 11:25

Luis Correira da Silva is the CEO of Dom Pedro Golf, the club that’s hosting the Portugal Masters from November 4 to 7, 2021. Here he talks about the state of the Portuguese golf industry and preparing for the event.

Why is the event so important to the Algarve?

For many years the Algarve has been one of the most well-known golf tourism destinations in Europe. With more than 40 well-designed and maintained courses, most of them championship courses, the region and destination is considered the ‘golf haven’ in southern Europe.
Golfers enjoy coming and playing at a number of different golf courses in Algarve, not only because of the quality of the courses, but essentially due to the fact that the warm, but not hot, climate in the region allows for play all year round and fantastic playing conditions.

The Portugal Masters is a very important event for golf in the Algarve, as every year it allows local residents and foreign visitors to watch and follow some of the world’s best golfers. However, it also provides an opportunity for millions of golfers in the world, through Sky TV’s direct event transmission, to view the region and Vilamoura, the ‘holy grail’ of golf locations in Portugal.

What is the history of the Portugal Masters? How long has Dom Pedro hosted it for?

Following the opening of the Dom Pedro Victoria Course in 2003, designed by seven-time Major champion and wold-renowned golf course architect, Arnold Palmer, it was decided the course would host a major golf event as soon as possible.

It was hoped that by hosting a big tournament it would bring about a new sort of visibility and recognition for the brand new fifth Vilamoura championship course.

In 2005, the Victoria Golf Course hosted the World Cup, with teams of two from 23 countries playing the course. In the footsteps of that event, Turismo de Portugal, the Algarve Tourism Board and the golf course owners came up with the idea of starting an annual European Tour golf event in Algarve.

This event, to be held on the fantastic Victoria Course, was very well received by the players that love to come back to Vilamoura every year. The first edition of The Portugal Masters was played in 2007 and this year the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course will be hosting the tournament for the 15th consecutive year.

How does the resort plan on setting up the courses?

The greenkeeping team at Dom Pedro Golf & Hotel Collection are focused on making the course as enjoyable as possible during this year’s tournament. The aim is to consolidate the Bermuda grass that was first planted before the 2019 edition in the rough and around the edges of the greens.

The greens will be set up to be firm and fast, allowing players to really go for their shots and attack the pin positions throughout the tournament. We want to set up the course in such a way that it provides both the spectators and players with as much entertainment as possible.

Vilamoura is one of the most recognised and best ranked resort tourism destinations in Algarve, and the team must do everything in its power to make sure that this reputation is shown to its full potential throughout the tournament.

Are there any specific features on the course to look out for during the event?

European Tour golf pros love to play the challenging Victoria Course. Every year of the tournament so far has seen some memorable moments captured throughout the course. In windy conditions, it’s very difficult to achieve a below par round and course knowledge, strategy and consistency of stroke play will come into play during every player’s round.

Several holes on the course are considered decisive if players want to risk an assault on the top of the leaderboard. However, they must also be careful as there are few such as the 17th and the 18th where the winners will be separated from the second best in the field.

Who are you hoping to see play?

The 2021 Portugal Masters is to be played between the 4th-7th November and will bring to Vilamoura, several well positioned ‘Race to Dubai’ players wishing to prepare and consolidate their presence in the end of season Dubai finale.

However, it will also be the last chance for a lot of ‘close to the door’ players to achieve a good result and obtain the necessary points to make it into the final event in Dubai. We would love to see a number of the top 50 players in the ‘Race to Dubai’ come to Vilamoura to battle it out for the win.

We also hope to see Oli Fisher back at Dom Pedro after he became the first player to shoot 59 on the European Tour back in 2018 during the event. That is a moment that will forever live long in memory of the tournament. It will certainly take some spectacular golf to beat it.

Hopefully, by attracting a good professional field to the event, it will also inspire amateur golfers to come and enjoy the tournament, whilst sampling some of the other golf courses nearby in the Dom Pedro Hotels & Golf Collection.

How has the pandemic affected the Dom Pedro Victoria Course?

All golf courses in Portugal were closed for several months during 2020 and 2021 to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 SARS virus. This resulted in the number of golf rounds played on the Dom Pedro Victoria Course drop to a minimum and it has only now started to recover to a good number.

We believe that in 2022, golf rounds and golf revenue will reach the results that were able to be seen before the pandemic in 2019. However, it was not necessarily a bad thing having fewer golfers play on the course during 2021, as it allowed us to maintain the course over a longer period of time and produce splendid playing conditions ahead of golfers returning to the Algarve this summer and The Portugal Masters.

What is the state of the Portuguese golf industry at the moment?

The Portuguese golf industry is starting to recover after 18 months of hardship with few golfers being able to travel and play in the region due to the travel restrictions that were imposed. We are all hoping that 2022 will see local and international golfers once again return to our beautiful courses and explore the Algarve for all it is worth.

We would like to assure golfers that all of the courses at the resort will be ready for business by next summer and we look forward to offer you a place to stay and play golf on your travels. Our five golf courses, all of them reachable in less than a 10 mile drive from the hotels, are known as being some of the best in not only the Algarve, but also in Portugal.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 21, 2021 11:25
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