Played by NCG: Espiche Golf Club
Reason for a Espiche Golf Club review
I was on a family holiday and was staying just outside of Odiaxere, near Lagos. Me and my dad decided to take a break from lounging about the pool to test out the highly-rated Espiche.
Where is Espiche Golf?
Espiche Golf, which opened in 2012, can be found in a quiet spot of countryside in the Western Algarve between the coast and Monchique Mountains. The 18-hole, par 72 course is located within a nature reserve and is just over six miles away from the popular and picturesque city of Lagos.
What to expect:
Espiche, designed by South African Peter Sauerman, requires concentration and accuracy. You are rarely afforded the opportunity to open up and smash your driver as the fairways are generally narrow and misplaced drives or long iron shots are easily swallowed up by the rocks and thick, prickly bushes. I was sweating by the end of the front nine (mainly from the baking hot sun) as my stash of balls started to run out.
The tricky, undulating greens will also require you to be steady with the putter.
However, if you are a solid hitter and confident with you game then you will find Espiche a delightful test.
There are various water hazards dotted throughout the course but they rarely come into your thinking. Instead, tall trees on several of the fairways and strategically-placed stone walls are the biggest cause for concern at Espiche. This is best seen on the stunning par-5, 1st hole, a fantastic way to begin a round. A wall dissects the fairway and a huge tree, found just beyond the wall, bars your passage to the green if you hit the ball too far right. Your decision-making skills are tested right from the off.
My best bit:
The uniquely designed clubhouse. The building, which sits on top of a hill at the heart of the course, can be seen from several holes and is a sight to behold.
The award-winning clubhouse was built on the site of an old Algarvian farmhouse. Stones from the original building have been incorporated into the outer wall, furniture has been made from reclaimed materials and there are energy efficient features throughout.
Apart from the brilliantly quirky design, the best aspect of this clubhouse is going up to the second floor balcony and soaking up the panoramic views of the course.
What to look out for:
Espiche prides itself on “preservation, conservation and innovation”, so everything about the course is geared towards sustainability and protecting the local environment.
A mixture of paspalum grass combined with Bermuda grass has created a course that requires less water. They have also worked hard to retain the indigenous vegetation in order to sustain the local ecosystem.
Those in charge at Espiche have paid attention to the little details and it adds up to a truly exceptional golfing experience.
When I go back:
I will be a smarter off the tee and refrain from using my driver for many of the holes. Accuracy is key at Espiche and my driving is erratic at the best of times.
I will also aim to get there a bit earlier so I can test out the driving range. I drove past it on my way into the course and it looked in superb condition.