With millions of visitors each year, Portugal remains one of the most popular destinations in Europe for people looking for a warm welcome, great climate, and stunning resorts.
Quinta do Lago is a luxury resort in the Algarve region of Southern Portugal just 20 minutes from Faro airport.
Multi award winning and world renowned for its golf courses, the resort is also home to a wide range of premium accommodation options ranging from 5-star hotels to luxurious villas and apartments all surrounded by the 2,000 acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park.
The resort boasts an ever-increasing range of amenities and activities for golfers and non-golfers alike as it stays abreast of changing customer needs.
Multiple bars, award winning restaurants, and a shopping centre all continue to delight, alongside the resort’s own beach which is around 3.5km long and easily accessed by a picturesque walk along a wooden bridge over a lagoon estuary.
The recently opened Campus sports complex is part of the ongoing development plan. This facility boasts a high-performance gym, aquatic centre, both padel and regular tennis courts, and the Bike Shed – a dedicated space for cyclists whether to analyse and improve performance or for clientele wishing to travel the main cycle routes along the Algarve coast.
The Campus has become a choice destination for professional sports teams across Europe wishing to sharpen up their performance during the off season at a high quality, multi-equipped facility.
Quinta do Lago is a haven as the golf facilities are second to none. The TaylorMade performance centre, that opened in 2013, offers a premium custom fitting serve and ensures there are hundreds of options for every level of golfer.
The Paul McGinley academy, situated on the large driving range, delivers instruction to all abilities and is regularly visited by the former Ryder Cup Captain. The academy has a strong track record in improving golfers and has a keen focus on juniors with many golf camps and programmes to develop their skills.
Next door to the academy is the resort’s mini-golf facility, which features several replica famous holes and allows golfers and non-golfers to have some fun.
For 50 years the resort has attracted golfers to its now three world class golf courses – The North, The South, and Laranjal.
Each course has been designed by renowned golf architects and presents its own challenge. All are well maintained and the emphasis on presentation was reinforced this year by the recent appointment of Scott Mclean, who previously worked in the Middle East and on the European Tour, as the new Golf course Superintendent.
The North Course
The North Course opened in 1974 and was redesigned and enhanced by Beau Welling and Paul McGinley in 2014. The course, a par 72 and 6,700 yards from the back tees, is a mixture of parkland and woodland holes with elevation changes, blind tee shots, and tricky greenside run offs that provide a challenging test.
The course starts softly with a slight downhill dogleg left short par-4 with a generous fairway leading to a large accommodating green, however this gentle welcome dissipates quickly as it is followed by a testing par-3 with a water hazard guarding the front of the green making a front pin position very difficult to negotiate.
The course then weaves in and out of woodlands with some reachable par 5s (if you miss the many fairway bunkers) and undulating par 4s where a well-placed tee shot using the camber of the fairway can add an extra 30 yards to your tee shot.
By the time you reach the 12th the difficulty moves up a gear. You are presented with a sweeping right to left par-4 of 380 yards around a lake, which will tempt some of the long hitters to attempt to reach the far edge of the water with their very best drive and leaving a very short shot into the green.
A safe play down the right side of the water leaves a much longer second into the narrow green, which slopes right to left towards the front directly into the water.
The last 3 holes on the North Course provide a great finish. The 16th is another challenging par-3 of 150 yards with a tee shot to a multitiered green that is set into the side of a hill. The 17th is a driveable par 4 with a slight right to left dogleg, but beware the fairway is narrow and slopes wickedly to the left. It feels like one of those holes where a 5 is easily as possible as a 3.
The final hole is a very picturesque finishing hole – 490-yards and a par-5 from the back tees. A soft fade off the tee might take you a small way around the dogleg before giving some visibility to the well bunkered multi-tiered green complex sitting in the distance.
A well placed second shot, short of the green, puts you in an ideal spot to pitch up to the right level and offers a real birdie opportunity to finish.
The South Course
The South Course at Quinta do Lago opened in 1974 and was designed by renowned golf course architect William Mitchell. The course has regularly featured on the European Tour and has hosted the former Portuguese Open no fewer than eight times.
The 7,000 yard (back tees) par 72 layout is the flagship course and regularly places highly in the top 100 courses in Europe. With slightly wider fairways than the other courses the challenge comes in hitting the slopes on the fairway and finding the right part of the large undulating greens. The course sits amongst the pine trees and features some testing water hazards and prominent fairway bunkering.
A downhill, fairly straight 1st hole to a clearly visible green takes the golfer on the first of many elevation changes and, apart from the par-3s, is one of the few holes on the course where the green is visible from the tee.
By the time you reach the 5th hole, the hardest on the course and which doglegs both ways uphill to a raised green, all golfers will know they are on a championship course that’s going to test all facets of their game.
The 12th hole – another tricky par 5 – looks short on the card and the tee shot from the elevated tee gives you confidence to let rip with a big drive.
But the severe right to left slope of the fairway can see your ball bounce from the left centre of the fairway into the rough without much effort, giving you no chance of reaching close to the green.
As the round develops further you can picture that the past champions of the Portuguese Open at this venue, among them Colin Montgomerie, would have had a reputation built on accuracy and strategy rather than power.
The 15th hole, a par 3 of 210 yards from the back tees over water, demands a great tee shot and leads you nicely into the signature 16th hole.
This 390 yard dogleg left par-4 offers great views out to sea as you approach the gentle slope down to the green, always assuming you have missed the large fairway bunkers left and right designed to grab your attention away from the terrific views.
A good drive on the 17th, over the same stretch of water as 15, gives a glimmer of hope for a birdie on this long uphill par 5 before finishing in now traditional style with another right to left dog leg par-4 to a sloping green.
Just outside the main resort and set amongst the orange groves is another pristine Quinta do Lago golf course.
The Laranjal was designed by Jorge Santana da Silva and opened in 2009. A Par 72 and just over 7,000 yards yards from the back tees, while the North and South courses have multiple elevation changes and blind tee shots, The Laranjal offers slightly less slopes and more visibility.
But strategic bunkering placement and a mixture of pine trees and lakes makes it no less challenging than the other courses.
After a short, heavily bunkered par-4 first hole, the course delivers a challenging 2nd hole, a par-3 of 230 yards to a large multi-layered green offering multiple pin placement options and up to three clubs’ difference between the front and rear of the green.
The course then presents a mix of challenging holes with hazards clearly visible but difficult to avoid. The front 9 holes are all in the centre of the property and it feels you can pick up the pace due to the compact layout.
The back 9 takes you out to the perimeter of the course and brings in to play the boundary as an extra hazard increasing the emphasis of accuracy off the tee.
The 15th hole is a 560 yard par-5 off an elevated tee. A good tee shot into the left slope will see the ball kick on down the hill, but beware the green has a big tier in the middle of the green, which is hidden from view from the fairway by the well-placed greenside bunker designed to catch an approach shot a little short of energy.
The final hole is a classic risk reward Par-5. It has two lakes to negotiate and is only 490 yards long but a bit of strategy might lead you to hit a shorter tee shot and longer second shot that opens up the green.
Longer hitters might have a go at clearing the first lake with a massive drive and make the birdie choice an easy two putt rather than a three shot approach and single putt.
For golfers and non-golfers Quinta do Lago has something for everyone whether it be the ever-expanding amenities, or the fantastic golf courses and offers the perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment for visitors and residents alike.
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