Sol Buckner tests his game at one of the most impressive golfing venues in Europe.
Quinta Do Lago - it means the land of the lake in Portuguese. As a golfer, it’s about the last thing you want to see when taking on any course.
But there could be no finer sight than this stunning golf resort built close to the beautiful Atlantic coast set among 2,000 acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park.
One of the most highly regarded golf and residential developments in Europe, the resort has been at the forefront of European golf with three award-winning championship courses matched by outstanding practice facilities including Europe’s only Paul McGinley Golf Academy and the only TaylorMade Performance Centre in southern Europe.
Named ‘Best New Golf Course in Europe’ at the 2014 World Golf Awards, Quinta do Lago’s North Course has been redesigned by renowned American golf architect Beau Welling and former European Ryder Cup winning captain Paul McGinley with the emphasis firmly on precision and strategy, making it a course that is playable and fun for golfers of all abilities.
And the resort has held the Portuguese Open eight times, making it a popular destination for both professional and amateur players.
Situated close to the Algarve coast, the weather is perfect all year round for golf and a gentle breeze from the Atlantic is most refreshing in the heat of the day.
From the facilities to the setting, Quinta offers a truly memorable holiday for golfers of all standards.
Day one saw us arrive nice and early via a pleasant two and a half hour Monarch flight from Gatwick to Faro. A 15-minute transfer to Laranjal golf course and we were ready to tee off.
We were given the latest TaylorMade M2 clubs and buggies featuring handy GPS range finders with 14” screen.
The clubs were ideal for the test that lay ahead. Graphite shafted with powerful heads, they proved very capable.
And the range finder was most helpful as we navigated our way through the course.
Laranjal means orange orchard in Portuguese and the fairways were lined with fruit laden trees, the most pleasant of roughs.
And if you did land in the ‘rough’ there was a good chance of getting out as most of the ground is covered in large bark chippings.
The bunkers were large and plentiful but with sand as white as snow and just as fluffy, it was fairly easy to chip out.
The well manicured fairways and first cut, were in tip-top shape throughout.
There were plenty of par fours offering a challenge for even the most able of golfers to negotiate the bunkers and roll out to the greens.
There were testing water challenges too as the round unfolded including a mammoth 500 yard par four, dog leg across two streams.
A pleasant four and a half hours later, we were transfered to our accommodation.
Martinhal is a complex of villas in a residential area of the resort. Our villa offered four bedrooms, all ensuite with a pool and kitchen. It offered all the comforts of home with a pleasant lounge and garden area.
In the evening we drove to the nearby Bovinho steakhouse for an evening meal. The restaurant was stunning. Modern with a rustic feel, the building was designed to perfection, suave and sophisticated just like the food.
For starters we were offered an assortment of delightful empenadas, Portuguese pastries with fillings of fish, minced pork or chicken.
The main course was an assortment of beef, cooked medium to well done. Melt in the mouth cuts of the finest tasting local steak.
Up bright and early on Day Two, we visited the Paul McGinley Golf Academy which is at the heart of the Quinta operation. Designed and created by the former Ryder Cup Captain, the centre offers a TaylorMade custom fitting centre with top professionals to provide lessons for every level of golfer.
We were introduced to Scott Taylor, a very knowledgeable and friendly PGA pro who gave us all individual tuition to help with our game. We were all put through the state-of-the-art Trackman system to study our swing and how to improve it. And almost two hours later we all walked out of the centre impressed by what we had learned and knew what we needed to work on.
With our swing thoughts in hand, we headed to the nearby Koko Lane restaurant for lunch which is next to the main pro shop and driving range.
The menu offers everything from pizza to pasta, burgers to salads all prepared fresh to order. And while you wait for your order you can always pop next door to the driving range and deal with those swing thoughts.
After lunch we headed out to the North course to put our lesson into practice. The course offered a more testing challenge for us all, with tighter fairways lined with lots of established pine trees.
With long par four holes and stretches of bunkers lying around most greens, I had to be at the top of my game.
After a very enjoyable outing, we headed to the restaurant Casa Do Lago, a delight for any lovers of fish.
With a fresh, open, vibrant lay out and staff attending to your every need, the Casa is the jewel in the Quinta complex.
For starters we were given an assortment of king prawns, fried squid and clams.
The specials board offered fresh golden bream, turbot, king prawns, lobster and tuna. I opted for the bream which was grilled to perfection offering the tastiest white flesh.
Day Three started nice and early again at the final course of the complex, the South course. I only found out after playing it, the course had hosted the Portuguese Open which gave me an enormous sense of achievement. And what a course. Simply one of the most attractive and all consuming courses I have ever played.
Undulating and long, it offered several fantastic water challenges, the 15th being my favourite. A soft second shot over a small lake complete with fountain and backed by some very impressive villas.
After another most relaxing round of golf it was back to Koko Lane to sample the lunch time menu once again and soak up the last of the rays before heading back to Faro Airport. The whole trip left me hankering for a return to what was surely one of the most impressive golfing venues in Europe if not the world. For more information about booking a visit, go to: http://www.quintadolago.com Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Faro from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £42 one way (£75.00 return) For further information or to book Monarch flights and Monarch Holidays, please visit www.monarch.co.uk
Accommodation at Martinhal
From September 16 to October 31, seven nights stay with breakfast, transfers to the golf course, use of indoor and outdoor pool, five golf rounds, in a two bedroom townhouse costs 1766 Euros or 586 per person; or in a three bedroom townhouse from 2355 Euros or 537 per person. To make a reservation email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This first featured in the July edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.