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Oporto is reminiscent of Royal North Devon in so many ways. It was founded in 1890 by Britons working on port wine, so only only Pau, Dinard and Biarritz in France and Royal Antwerp in Belgium are older on Continental Europe.

That pedigree manifests itself in a fabulous wood-panelled clubhouse that oozes character and class.

In the same way as at Westward Ho!, Oporto displays all its history beautifully – you can spend an hour drinking in all the feats and events of yesteryear, including the Scaffington Cup, the oldest continuous trophy in the game’s history.

The similarity with RND continues on the course, with a topography and design themes that chime with the Devon course, as well as somewhere like Leven in Scotland or England’s St Anne’s Old.

So it’s all about flat land that switches between gentle ripples and more pronounced undulations. It’s about welcome width off the fairway and varied, interesting green complexes. And it’s about a challenge that is so natural that if someone told you hole number X had been changed at some point, you really wouldn’t believe them (in fact a couple have actually been tweaked).

The turf is, as ever on the continent, not like the fescue we play from on our seaside courses, and indeed in the early days inland soil was brought in in the tragic belief it provided a better surface for golf. But there is so much sand that the fairways and greens are enjoyably firm and a delight to play from.

Oporto has an outstanding hole, the short 8th that has echoes of both the Postage Stamp and 17th on the Old Course. It is 165 yards off the whites and an exacting 190 from the back tees, and is so challenging because the green is a work of art.

In the shape of a slender figure 8, is sits at an angle to the tee and is a wide but shallow target. It slopes left to right and has three tiers in it. Oh, and a bunker in front which gives it the echoes of the Old’s 17th. You could place it on any links course in Britain and it would maintain the round’s momentum.

The sporty two-shot 6th, under 300 yards but whose small elevated green makes even a par hard won, is also really good. The short 13th is another cracker and while the end of the back nine is less seaside in nature, there is nothing to dislike about the holes.

Finally the routing is as eccentric as I’ve ever witnessed. It makes Muirfield look like a military march back and forth! So when it’s breezy, you are always having to work out what the wind will do on almost every hole.

Chris Bertram



Philip Mackenzie Ross

+351 227 342 008

Oporto Golf Club , Espinho , Portugal , 4500-653