Chris Bertram rounds up the month's courses news
Architect Martin Ebert has a masterplan for 1932 Open venue Prince’s. But we’ll get to that later, as first we’ll head to Portugal…
Ombria to open in 2021
Ombria, five miles north of Loule in central Algarve, is set to open in 2021 to coincide with the completion of the clubhouse and the five-star Viceroy at Ombria Resort hotel.
“The construction of our course is not yet finished but we are scheduled to open within two years,” Joao Richard Costa told NCG.
The course has been designed by Portuguese architect Jorge Santana da Silva on a former fruit farm that incorporates a river valley, ancient trees and indigenous plants – with the intention that the course will immediately have a natural, mature feel.
Interestingly the card shows Ombria will play under 6,600 yards off the tips – not especially long by modern standards but with a par of 70 – with loops of nine either side of the residential section
The clubhouse was built into the castle–like walls of an existing ruin and features a sports bar and restaurant, golf shop, swimming pool, sauna and gym.
The Algarve expensive? Officially not
We were glad to see something we’ve been saying for years borne out in an actual official report: the Algarve is not expensive!
It’s true that there are some high-end rack rates at the very elite courses, but even they offer good deals and most of the 43 courses are very reasonably priced given the guarantee of quality.
But now the Algarve has been commended in a Post Office survey for offering the best value for money in some of Europe’s hotspots.
The survey assesses the cost of nine essentials – lunch and evening meals, drinks, suncream and insect repellent – and the Algarve was top of 20 popular regions in the eurozone. In fact it showed a price fall of 16.2 per cent across the whole survey compared to 2018.
Maria Manuel Delgado e Silva of Algarve tourism said: “We believe the Algarve has so many reasons for visiting us: the weather, the people, the beaches, the hotels and accommodation and of course, the golf.
“But it also exceptional value for money – and it’s fantastic to see us perform so well in this survey.”
Dye effect at the Shire
Engaging the Dye Designs firm to work on your course is a signal you’re keen to improve and the Shire London is backing that decision up with a focused renovation plan.
The club has inter–seeded its greens with leading bentgrass developer, Tee-2-Green’s Pure Distinction, which is used on some of the world’s most famous courses.
And the Seve Ballesteros design will also gradually see the full renovation of all green–side bunkers, with all faces set to be constructed from recycled artificial turf.
Cynthia Dye, niece of the legendary Pete, said: “So far, I have redesigned the green–side bunkers on holes 8, 9 and 13 and I am confident the new changes will impress members and guests, alike.”
Exclusive: Ebert reveals Prince‘s masterplan
The R&A‘s preferred architect Martin Ebert has been engaged by 1932 Open host Prince‘s to work on their Shore and Dunes nines following the success of his renovation of the club‘s Himalayas loop.
Ebert, part of the Mackenzie & Ebert firm, took time out from his busy schedule – whether at Hirono in Japan or Ireland at Open host Portrush – to explain the key thrust of his latest work at the historic Kent links.
“The work at Princes has continued on through the autumn and winter on the Shore and Dunes nines,” he told NCG.
This follows on from the Himalayas project, which has added so much to that loop of nine, including the new par-3 5th.
Now another of the nines will also have a new par-3 5th, as the new hole on the Shore nine has been created to eventually replace the par-3 8th.
This will create welcome space between the 1st and 2nd on the Dunes and the end of the Shore nine.
The new hole gives an attractive change of direction to the Shore and has the sea as a backdrop in the distance.
It has that in common with the 5th on the Himalayas but, beyond that, it is quite different, with a green sloping away from the golfer and three deep bunkers instead of one to demand an accurate tee shot.
The 6th hole – the existing 5th – which plays to the Lodge, now has a new set of tees to give the hole a dogleg right to left and both holes have had visually stunning bare sand areas created in the carries.
That is a theme which has been taken through many of the holes of the Shore and Dunes Nines in this project, adding real contrast to the views from the tees.
There have also been other tee projects implemented for both nines and additional bunkers formed to ask the best golfers more telling questions for their tee shots.
Finally, greens have been mown out to restore their former sizes. The greens and their surrounds are a real strength of Prince’s for all 27 holes.
They really are a match for any of the great links courses of Great Britain and Ireland in terms of their undulations and the condition which course manager Sean McLean and his team keep them in is second to none.”