Estela

Estela

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Course Information

You know by the time you’ve walked from the car park to the clubhouse and caught a glimpse of the landscape that you’re going to enjoy Estela.

You probably know as you’re winding your way along narrow seaside lanes en route to the course to be honest.

It looks and feels like it will be a lot of fun, and is likely to be easy in the eye. Sure enough, it is.

It is pretty much as close to a links as I’ve seen in mainland Europe, up there with the likes of Royal Hague and Le Touquet.

The dunes landscape is certainly akin to what we’d expect of our own links even if the grass isn’t the fescue we would find prospering on top of British and Irish sand.

All five of the opening holes play along the shore and into the prevailing north wind and is as good an opening salvo as you will find on the continent outside the absolutely elite venues.

It even shares a worrying problem with British courses such as Montrose – that of coastal erosion. So, holes on the front nine are being narrowed by the advance of the tide and the retreat of the dunes.

It is painful to see and for the sake of the club, its members and its future visitors, one hopes they can arrest it.

It makes the early section especially difficult given their unforgiving fairways, but they remain high-calibre holes: the 1st with its narrow undulating fairway and green, the short 2nd with its uphill infinity green; the tough 3rd’s exacting drive between bushes and dunes; the par-3 4th toward the ocean; and the exacting 5th to an elevated beachside free.

All five of the opening holes play along the shore and into the prevailing north wind and is as good an opening salvo as you will find on the continent outside the absolutely elite venues.

Turning round, the 6th plays along a rollercoaster fairway towards the notable windmill behind a long narrow green. The 7th had to be altered because of a neighbouring caravan site – a classic UK links theme – but remains a strong test as it snakes to a well-bunkered green.

The sporty two-shot 8th is fun and then the opening half is concluded with a semi-blind tee shit but in fact – unbeknown to the first-time visitor – the first hint of a bail out.

These last four holes are with the prevailing and you get four more in that direction after passing the clubhouse at halfway before turning for home.

The par 3s are contrasting, but reflect the likely wind; the downwind point-to-point 12th is close to 200 yards off the backs to a small target while the 17th is just 170 yards but can require a three-wood to get home.

There is more rom on the back nine even if the drive off the 10th is disconcertingly tight by virtue of its snaking fairway.

It includes two strong par 5s at the 13th – a sweeping hole on a grand scale – then the 15th, which twists and rises across the undulating topography.

The par 3s are contrasting, but reflect the likely wind; the downwind point-to-point 12th is close to 200 yards off the backs to a small target while the 17th is just 170 yards but can require a three-wood to get home.

The uphill home hole is a brilliant, exacting way to finish a round and a match.

Make a par here on this sloping green in front if the clubhouse and you can expect to win the hole – and make the Super Bock and panoramic views from the clubhouse just that bit nicer.  Chris Bertram

 

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+351 252 601 814

Lugar do Rio , Alto , Estela , Portugal , 4570-242