Praia del Rey Feature Review
Praia d'el Rey was Played and Reviewed by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor in March 2018.
Portugal has long been a favourite destination for UK golfers owing to the excellent weather, the abundance of fantastic quality golf courses and short travel time. There has been a lot of excitement surrounding the opening of West Cliffs in 2017 which is managed by the team at the Praia d’el Rey complex. Golfers visiting the area are likely to play a few of the courses so we went to see what West Cliff’s older brother had to offer.
Read and Watch the Golfshake Feature on West Cliffs
Praia d’el Rey is a comprehensive resort including the 5* Marriot Hotel & Spa and two beautiful 18 hole championship golf courses, all set on a stunning beachside location with view across the Atlantic. The Praia d’el Rey course was designed by Cabell B. Robinson and opened it’s doors in 1997, so it now has a wonderfully mature feel as you negotiate the terrain. It is picturesque, testing and regularly features in many top 100 lists.
After checking in at the pro shop, visitors’ are treated to see the beautiful views over the course and the ocean beyond, which truly is magnificent. This sets the theme for the beauty of the landscape which can also be brutal when the wind is up and provides a stern challenge of championship standards. The course is very walkable so whilst buggies are available, most golfers will be fine on their feet.
Front 9 Overview
The front nine begins in a sheltered pine forest and meanders down towards the cliff edge where it evolves from a parkland style into true links. The opening hole offers the first of many risk reward decisions on the drive, though a conservative start which ensures the ball stays in play will not go far wrong.
The second is even more tempting with a large lake positioned to the right-hand side of the dog leg right, meaning the greedier the angle of attack, the more chance of an early bath! These two opening holes really are stunning with well developed, mature surroundings… the good news is that the best views are yet to come.
A lake lies conveniently between the tee and the green on the par three 8th and there are also bunkers behind. In this area of the world many of the par 3s are deliberately short due to the very strong winds which can blow in from the Atlantic and though this hole is sheltered by the trees, golfers will need to think about their ball flight on this cheeky little hole.
Back 9 Overview
Ready for the second nine, the view from the tenth is spectacular as the land falls away from your vantage point towards the green which is guarded on one side by a lake on this mid-sized par five. The twelfth is the next of the par 5s and beckons golfers down towards the ocean. This is now links territory with fairway undulations, prevailing winds and holes which tempt golfers to play shots they might regret! I don’t remember many more attractive golf shots than a well struck approach into the green on the twelfth, with the magnificent and violent ocean raging just beyond it. Bliss!!
The thirteenth is a short par four which is very makeable from the tee. A well-designed hole; there are greedy fairway bunkers on the right which gobble up balls which have not been well adjusted for the wind. There are plenty of features in the distance to take aim at, after which the breeze decides the outcome!!
The penultimate is possibly the standout hole on this course off which is as stunning as it is challenging. The sweeping majesty of the par 5 17th dog legs left and continues to narrow as progress is made to the green. This is the longest hole on the course and it also has the smallest green which results in a really enjoyable test.
Post Round Thoughts
This course is spectacular and the views really do make it something special. There is plenty of opportunity to soak in those last few moments from the clubhouse as you enjoy a post round drink and reflect on the experience. Bruised and battered.
We visited in March during the “weather bomb” that was sweeping across Europe. Despite some torrential downpours the course remained fully open and was presented in immaculate condition. If anything; it was unique to experience the stiff Atlantic breeze and downpours (which are unusual for Portugal) and actually heightened the golfing experience! You’ll likely find some good value deals in the off-peak season too.
All in all Praia d’el Rey is magnificent, memorable and if you like your links golf, a must visit.
Verdict Round up
Top tips for success:
- Prepare for windy and changeable conditions
- Have a “go to” tee shot you can rely on for the longer holes
- Allow the time to grab a beer in the bar and admire the unbelievable views
- Make your own comparison with the new course at West Cliffs!
Overall Rating 9
Course (Conditions) 9
Course (Hole variety/layout) 9
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) 8
Club facilities & 19th/clubhouse 8
Practice Facilities 7
Course (green condition) 9
Pace of play 10
Value for money 10
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