Quinta do Lago, North Course: review

A facelift gives the Algarve layout a new lease of life, but can it rival the South?

Charlie Lemay's picture
Fri, 24 Jul 2015

Quinta do Lago, North Course: review

Paul McGinley: "I’ve been coming to Quinta do Lago with my family for many years now and it keeps getting better and better. The new design will test golfers in many different ways and I believe this is a great addition to Europe’s leading destination."

Quinta do Lago’s South Course has historically been the five-star facilities’ cash cow, but the aptly named North Course has made giant strides in recent years.

Geographically the Portuguese layouts are separated by just a few hundred metres, but historically their strategies have been miles apart. While the South Course chugged away with very little being done to it (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) the North Course has been sliced and diced.

In charge of reconstructing one of the Algarve’s most promising courses was architect Beau Welling. His illustrious right-hand man was victorious 2014 Ryder Cup captain and frequent visitor to Quinta do Lago, Paul McGinley. 

American Welling is an esteemed architect, with a portfolio boasting 90 projects worldwide including the re-design of Quail Hollow and Waterville in Ireland. 

A staggering €9.6m (£6.7m) was spent giving the layout a facelift – expensive, even by Hollywood’s standards - but the amount of work done is considerable.

All greens, tees, bunkers, irrigation, drainage systems and cart paths have been rebuilt, and four sets of tees were introduced on every hole to accommodate all standards. 

Perhaps the most telling amendment has been the introduction of Bermuda grass around numerous greens to make approach play easier for higher handicappers. This is a welcome addition, giving players more options when making approach shots, without dampening the challenge too much. The grass is still embedding itself, but in time it will make the round more enjoyable for all levels of player. 

Small aesthetic changes have paid huge dividends, resulting in a gorgeous layout which effortlessly blends into its surroundings. Tweaks such as hiding the cart paths by sinking them below the level of the ground may seem insignificant, but it makes a huge difference.

A lot of people find the game very difficult so the aim with the golf course was to make it as playable as possible for golfers of all levels," McGinley said. “We didn’t change the template or routing of the course but upgraded it and brought it into the modern world, making it as visual as possible. The course is a challenge but also very fair."

McGinley has also lent his name to the spectacular academy at the club. Boasting a vast driving range, short game area and TaylorMade Performance Lab, the centre gives amateurs the chance to fine tune their game like a pro, regardless of their ability.

Opened in May 2013, the academy is the only one of its kind in southern Europe and its credibility was rubber stamped when England Golf decided to make it their winter training base for the next four years.

The standard of the course is apparent from the first hole. Golfers hit from a raised tee box, providing stunning views of the drastically doglegging par four ahead of them.

It is a winding and relatively narrow 18 holes, and on many of the holes it is advisable to leave the big stick in the bag and opt for an iron.

Many of the fairways are undulating, which is a factor when approaching the green, and this continues onto the putting surfaces, which are devilishly tough.

The greens are lightning and many have double breaks. Landing below the hole is a big advantage, as downhill putts are particularly hard to read.

Water hazards and bunkers are strategically placed to punish the errant player and sand traps are well maintained and boast fluffy sand.

Often players are faced with approach shots into raised and sunken greens, making distance judgement challenging.

Conclusion

The redevelopment has been a masterstroke, and the course will only get better with age. The changes allow the course to be enjoyed by all levels of golfer, and it has improved the aesthetics of the layout.

It is a demanding course, with fast and undulating greens and the fairways are narrow and winding.

Whether it matches Quinta Do Lago’s famed South Course is up for debate, but without doubt the North Course is heading in the right direction.

Have you played Quinta do Lago's North Course? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the forum, on Twitter, on Facebook or visit us on Instagram or YouTube.

Monarch have flights to Faro and offer a 15% discount on golf bag carriage on various routes. 

 

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