Feature Review Monte Rei Golf Country Club
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club is about 30 minutes away from the plethora of courses that are located in the Vilamoura area. Set up in the hills, about 10 minutes from Tavira it really is something special. It’s one of only a handful of Jack Nicklaus ‘Signature’ courses in Europe and the only one in Portugal.
The par 72 Championship golf course measures 6567m from the Tournament tees and has water coming into play on eleven of the eighteen holes.
Monte Rei is rated the number 1 golf course in Portugal, and a top ten in Europe.
Pre round thoughts
From the minute you drive into the estate, through the security guards and get your first glimpse of the golf course, you know this is going to be something special.
When you arrive in at the clubhouse, it doesn’t disappoint. A member of staff welcomes and checks you in whilst another staff member parks your car, puts your clubs on a buggy waiting for you to be re-united at the practice area.
As you’re taken there, you are presented with a pyramid of golf balls, which is one of my favorite things in golf. What is it about a pyramid of balls that is so pleasing?!! It’s a fantastic practice area too, with a great range, chipping area and putting green - the perfect way to get prepared before you head to the first tee.
Before I go through the holes in detail, it is worth mentioning that it’s difficult singling out specific holes at Monte Rei - mainly because every one of the 18 are brilliant in their own way. However, I’ll do my best!
The 9th hole
The 5th is the first par 3 on the golf course. Measuring 170 metres from the elevated tournament tees, you play to a large contoured green with bunkers front and back. It’s not a long par 3, but it is still beautifully designed, and tricky. Take a par a run!
The 9th is an amazing hole. Make sure you pick the right club for this relatively short par 3. The bunkers here are well renowned, and completely surround the green. Made the green successfully? You’ll need to negotiate the sloping green to avoid 3 putting… which could be easily done.
The 14th is a superb hole. 181 metres from the tournament tees with water along the left hand side of the hole and a bunker at the back right of the green to mop up anything long. There’s a pretty big bail out area at the right of the green if you don’t fancy flirting with the water. Just make sure you get the chip right as it all runs towards the water. The wind really comes into play here too, so choosing the right club is crucial.
Par 4 3rd hole
Where to start on the Par 4s! The opening hole is the perfect set up for the round and an absolute gem to get you going. A dogleg right from an elevated tee, the big hitters can drive over the right hand corner of the dogleg and leave a short iron to the green. For most of us, take aim at the fairway bunkers left and let the slope run it to the middle. The green is protected left with a deep bunker and a run off area right. The green is steeper than it looks and can easily reward you with a three putt.
The 3rd hole is another dogleg right, with fairway bunkers to the left and right. A 250-yard driver will carry them all. The green is protected by water, leaving you a knee trembling iron to the green. If you’re not feeling it, you can always bail out left as there is quite a bit of room. Going for the green? Don’t be long as it will run towards the water…never to be seen again!
What a hole the 13th is. 404 metres off the tee, you need to be aiming short of the two bunkers, which is only a fairway wood. The backdrop of this green is a beautiful lake, and it’s a narrow green to aim at so you need to be precise. There’s no bail out either, so you need to be confident with your second shot. This was probably my favourite hole on the course. Just spectacular.
Par 5 18th hole
The 2nd is the first of the par 5’s, and it’s a belter… although a slightly intimidating tee shot. With a lake down the right, the smart play is along the left hand side of the fairway as the carry over the lake is too long for most. The second shot is not a simple one as there are more strategically placed fairway bunkers, so using the buggy gps really helps.
Make it in three, or even two and you’ll still have a super tricky putt on a sloping green to make par.
The 497 metre 8th hole appears straight forward on the card. But don’t be fooled. Yes, there is no water… but you will need to hit your drive up the left to have a decent shot in. Feeling brave and like you can reach in two? Watch for the HUGE greenside bunker at the front left, giving the green some almighty protection to this long sloping green. Take par and run!
The final hole on the course, and what a brilliant finishing hole it is. Aim left down the forgiving fairway, hoping for a good drive, which will kick forwards. There’s a good chance to get close in two, as long as the water to the right does not faze you. Just forget it’s there and go for glory! An absolutely fantastic hole to finish the round.
Where can I start? How about this… Monte Rei is stunning. Simply stunning.
The whole experience is one that you never want to end. The customer service is exceptional and the golf course is to die for. Every hole you feel like you are the only people on the course, and it helps that every hole is amazing.
If you are heading to the Algarve to play golf… Monte Rei absolutely HAS TO be on your list. Yes, the green fee is on the more expensive side, but what you get for you hard earned Euros more than makes up for it… and first timers are even presented with a gift on the 18th. Special stuff.
You will leave Monte Rei wanting more. And more. And more…!
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