Country profile: Portugal

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 29, 2022 12:57

Several golf venues in Portugal are investing heavily in themselves at the moment, with new courses opening and others being upgraded. This should result in increased tourism – but the measures are also resulting in less dependency on water for irrigation.

One of the golfing world’s most exciting countries at the moment, in terms of new developments and major refurbishments, is Portugal.

Here we look at four significant projects.

Terras da Comporta

David McLay-Kidd has revealed that he is “super excited” at the prospect of launching his first golf course in mainland Europe as preparations continue ahead of the official opening of The Dunas Course at Terras da Comporta next summer.The acclaimed golf architect has said the eagerly awaited layout will be unveiled in July 2023.

McLay-Kidd originally launched the links-style Dunas Course, which is situated one hour south of Lisbon, in 2010, and is thrilled that the project is finally coming to fruition 12 years later.

David McLay-Kidd

“I’m super excited about the course and it is pretty much finished,” said McLay-Kidd, whose other famous designs include Bandon Dunes, Queenwood, Beaverbrook, Machrihanish Dunes and the Castle Course at St Andrews.

“In the next few months we’re going to be trimming up the bunkers and setting up the course so that it’s ready for players. And as part of that, I get to play to see how it feels after quite a few years of working on this project.

“It’s a lot of fun but it’s not easy by any means. It’s pretty challenging but it is forgiving if you get into trouble. You’ve got a chance to get back into the game, and how could you ever complain about the amazing weather in Portugal together with the beaches, the cafes, the food, the people. It’s all beautiful and I would encourage anyone to come and visit.”

Situated on the coast in a secluded setting on the edge of the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, The Dunas Course is one of two 18-hole championship layouts that is planned at the multi-million euro development.

Created over 84 hectares of natural, sandy terrain, the par-71 Dunas Course has been built using the highest sustainable practices and is predicted to quickly become one of Europe’s must-play golfing venues when it opens.

Rodrigo Ulrich, director of golf at Terras da Comporta, added: “What David has created here is truly special and golfers are in for a real treat. The course adheres to all his design principles – to create a layout that is as natural, seamless and sustainable as possible – and the way he has made full use of the terrain and location is incredible.”

Laguna Golf Course

Laguna Golf Course at Dom Pedro Hotels & Golf Collection has officially reopened after undergoing an extensive requalification to improve the overall quality of the course as part of a new dimension to the resort’s well-renowned golfing portfolio.

The requalification of the Dom Pedro Laguna Golf Course was based on three key pillars; definition, contrast and uniformity; designed to create a consistent look-and-feel throughout the layout and showcase increased playability for golfers of all abilities.

Upon reopening, golfers can now clearly identify all areas of play, along with the contrast given by the different tones of grass and cutting heights. One hundred percent bermuda grass has been installed across all the greens, fairways and tee boxes; restoring them with improved aesthetics and increased water efficiency, to provide quality conditioning 365 days of the year.

In addition, the course has seen an entirely new Rain Bird IC irrigation system fitted to increase coverage and reduce water consumption by up to 30 percent across the playing surface, whilst all bunkers have been rejuvenated with a fresh new layer of white sand for greater compaction, texture and reliability.

Pietro Dal Fabbro, chief executive officer at Dom Pedro Hotels & Golf Collection, stated: “The Dom Pedro Laguna Golf Course is one of the golf courses in the Algarve that has been subject to continuous improvements over the years. We determined, because of the pandemic, this would be the best time to take a step forward with a more incisive requalification of the Dom Pedro Laguna Course, raising the quality of the course and meeting the expectations of sustainable development.”

Rui Grave, head greenkeeper at Dom Pedro Golf, added: “At the reopening of the Dom Pedro Laguna, golfers will now be able to find a golf course that consumes 20 percent less energy and fertiliser, as well as up to 50 percent less water. It will now be possible to identify protected areas for the reservation of the local avifauna, but also all the areas of the game, together with the contrast produced by the different shades of grass and heights of cut. All the fairways have been restored to their original layout, the greens have become faster and firmer, the bunkers revitalised, and the rough made more consistent for a greater playing experience.”

Palheiro Golf

Palheiro Golf is embarking on a new chapter in its burgeoning history after announcing a major new seven-figure investment in its facilities.

Already regarded as one of Europe’s elite golf resorts, the leading venue in Madeira is taking its golfing experience to new heights in the next 12 months with a series of upgrades – including launching a new golf academy.

A 10-minute drive from the island’s capital, Funchal, and nearly 1,640 feet above sea level, Palheiro Golf enjoys dramatic views of Madeira’s mountainous skyline and the ocean, while its par-72, 6,656-yard course was designed by Cabell Robinson and is situated within the magnificent Palheiro Nature Estate, which is more than 200 years old.

At the centre of Palheiro’s latest investment plans is to open a golf academy in 2023. Offering stunning views over the Atlantic, the practice facility will feature 28 bays and a fitting centre as an all-weather space fitted with the latest ball-tracking technology.

Enhancing the golfing experience will be the resort’s redesigned golf clubhouse, which will have a contemporary new look. As well as modernising the interior, the veranda will also receive an upgrade, while a newly installed webcam will mean its panoramic views over Funchal Bay can be enjoyed from anywhere in the world.

Palheiro is also making a number of improvements to its renowned Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro, including carrying out an upgrade of the main house rooms and bathrooms.

Jonathan Fletcher, president of Palheiro Nature Estate, said: “We are extremely proud of the reputation that we have built, and this latest programme of investment will allow us to continue to move forward and evolve so that we maintain our position at the forefront of golf and hospitality on the islands.”

Porto Santo Golfe

Porto Santo Golfe has unveiled a range of new measures aimed at lowering its eco-footprint and making golfers more environmentally conscious.

Officials at the golf club – also located in Madeira – are introducing a series of upgrades across its golf and clubhouse facilities to reduce water, plastic and electricity usage and improve recycling levels.

At the forefront of the improvements being made is the installation of a new pumping system in the lake on the fourth hole to improve irrigation efficiency and reduce the amount of liquid used watering the course.

Off the course, Porto Santo’s pro shop is making changes to ensure golfers using the venue can also help to conserve the environment. Bamboo tees will be sold in the shop to encourage golfers not to use plastic golf tees, with a campaign running on social media at the same time to further enhance the message.

In addition, a new rubbish house is being built to improve recycling levels, with rubbish separation baskets in place at the clubhouse and monthly reports being undertaken to measure the rubbish weight. An electric certification will also take place to help reduce electric usage.

Designed by Seve Ballesteros and host of the Madeira Islands Open in 2009 and 2011, the club is the perfect example of the harmony between human activity and wildlife. Dotted with lakes and natural habitats, the northern route of the course is set atop fantastic cliffs and near the stunning Porto Santo beach. Diverse marine life thrives nearby, including the loggerhead sea turtle and the rarest seal in the world, the Mediterranean monk seal.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 29, 2022 12:57
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