Golf on the Troia Peninsula
The famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr was known for his fanatical devotion to preserving the natural beauty of the environment so he must have been inspired when he was commissioned to build a course on the Troia Peninsula in Portugal.
It was here, just one hour’s drive south of Lisbon, that Trent Jones Sr created one of his masterpieces; a golf course that embraces the qualities of the land it shares, rather than one that sucks the life out it by unnecessary upheaval and manicure.
The Troia Peninsula is a sand spit – one of those unusual quirks of nature that produces a special environment favoured by those in search of relaxation far from the madding crowds.
Created by natural forces, the narrow strand stretches 13k with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the wide estuary of the river Sado on the other.
From Lisbon airport it is easily reached with a 30-minute motorway drive followed by a further half hour’s very enjoyable car ferry journey across the estuary from the mainland port of Setubal.
The Troia landscape is very flat and vegetation is largely small pine forests with a mix of coastal grasses, scrubland and pretty wild flowers.
When laying down the fairways in 1979, Trent Jones Sr chose to use these features as natural defences in place of the more typical rough and water hazards, while adding many imposing bunkers on fairways and greenside. As a result the course is challenging, particularly if you miss the fairways leaving yourself with a nasty shot from bumpy, sandy lies, often with your swing hampered by tufts of thick shrubby plants or a pine tree.
Given its location, wind can prove another natural hazard so it pays to take advice on which tee boxes to play off.
Alexandre Barroso, the Director of Golf, says the only low handicap players should contemplate playing of the whites which produce a course a fraction short of 7000 yards. The yellow course, at 6,376 yards, is plenty long enough. If you want a quick reality check try standing on the white tee of the first hole and take a look at the large lake between the tee box and the start of fairway in the distance!
As Alexandre explained, Trent Jones Sr was famous for his creating courses which in his own words are “easy to bogey, difficult the par.”
The architect’s more subtle hallmarks are to be found across the course. Offset tees which are angled away from fairways are unnerving even for experienced players so you must carefully pick your line. If you find the fairway you will often find the greens also offset from the line of play making them appear much smaller than they are.
This clever design provides a solid test of nerve and composure requiring players to think twice about club selection and aim. Leaving the driver in the bag on occasion will be the right choice as will laying up rather than hoping for the best. There is also plenty of variety – stand out holes include the first which is long and impeccably defended by a host of bunkers, the trademark short par 4 dogleg 3rd, the 14th and the 15th with its huge roller-coaster green.
Alexandre has been at Troia for just one year and aims to put this stamp on the course and facilities to bring further improvements to an already superb layout and immaculate modern clubhouse.
He has restored the original course to its natural state by removing the semi rough and is investigating how to improve bunker sand.
“My aim is the raise standards of the course to an even higher level and improve the service we offer to golfers to complement the golfing experience” he told us over a superb new tapas menu being trialled in the clubhouse.
Troia once had the reputation of being rather isolated but recent development had put paid to that.
The ferry service from the mainland is regular, has been upgrade to half hour intervals so it is now relatively easy to access.
At the tip of the peninsula is the modern Troia Resort with four star hotels appealing to the family market and the new five star Troia Design Hotel, which features the typical luxury of its rating.
Around the marina is a casino, shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. A short walk from the marina is the white sand beach of Praia Troia Mar.
Beach life is spectacular throughout and you can enjoy circular walks and experience horse riding on the sands.
In contrast to the family feel of the resort, the nearby Comporta village is an upmarket haven known for celeb spotting. Here the beach features smart, pastel-striped beach huts amid the dunes and is unusually adjacent to rice paddy fields, one of the area’s main source of income. As you would expect it’s a gourmet’s paradise. Dining in the trendy Gomes Casa de vinhos & petiscos following a local G ‘n T on the Portuguese version of a village green is a real treat.
Not all the attractions are new. The Romans latched onto the abundance of fish in the estuary and sea and set up a salting factory in the first half of the 1st AD continuing production for five centuries. Today the excavated ruins are within easy reach of the resort and the interpretation boards give a fascinating insight into a Roman export business.
Meanwhile nature lovers have plenty to keep them occupied. The peninsula has some of the best beaches in the area. Bird watching is a popular attraction – pink flamingoes visit each year - and the waters around the peninsula are home to a school of bottlenose dolphins which can be observed at close quarters from plentiful boat charters.
For full course details of Troia Golf visit http://www.troiaresort.pt/en/troia-golf/.
The course is one home of Elite Golf Academies http://www.elitegolfacademies.com run by English professional golfer Steve Bainbridge who teaches and fits using TrackMan 4 technology.
Gomes Casa de vinhos & petiscos at Comporta serves a good range of classy small sharing dishes.
Unwind during the evening and have a flutter here next to the marina https://www.troiadesignhotel.com/en/casino/
Here is a fascinating insight into life on Troia before golf was invented http://www.troiaresort.pt/en/troia-roman-ruins/
Trot down the beach on horseback with http://www.cavalosnaareia.com/cavalosnaareia/en/.
Packages and Getting There
Golfbreaks.com offer a range of stay and play packages for Troia, the Lisbon area and many other destinations
Flights to Lisbon are widely available from UKs Regional Airports
Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges and transfers. Booking Meet and Greet Parking ensures that you can enjoy more holiday without the hassle. Visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678.
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