Bunkers on the left of the 4thRisk and reward at the 9th Looking back down the 12th
This is going to be the Second Rocky Roquemore-designed course I have played in the Lisbon area, the first being the Golden Eagle. If this track turns out to be anywhere near as good as that course, I know I am going to be in for a treat Ė especially if the design of the well-appointed clubhouse is anything to go by.
The first is a long par 4 and nothing really spectacular. Itís a well-designed hole, one where you really need to be in the left side of the fairway to have a good look at the green, but there is a well-placed bunker 250 yards out on the left to contend with. Itís not until you get to the second and the run of holes right through to the turn that this course comes into its own, and I have to say this track is right up there with Golden Eagle. I hereby declare myself a Rocky Roquemore fan.
Yes, heís been given a great piece of land to work with. But heís certainly made full use of the terrain here. If like me you are a fan of elevated tees, well-placed bunkers, risk-and-reward shots and great green complexes, you will enjoy every moment on this course. As my ball sails through the air at the second to the fairway below, with the sun shining and its warmth uplifting my soul along with that lovely aroma of freshly-cut grass, itís moments like these that make this game so special. Rocky Roquemore seems to capture in his golf course designs these exquisite experiences that golfers like me and you cherish and talk about in clubhouses the world over.
Like a lot of courses in Europe the fairways suffered a bit this year with the very dry summer, but by the time you make it there Ė with the programme that Paul Saunders the director of golf has put in place Ė the course will be back to its best and you will be in for a real treat.
The original design had the two nines reversed and I can see the logic in that with the practice ground being next to the first tee. At the moment itís next to the 10th, but I have to say I like the current 18th where you only need an iron off the tee to be just short of the water. Itís a great finishing hole and there is talk of finding a way of using the original tees on that hole (just adjacent to the 17th green) which would make it one very tough finishing hole. But no matter what way round they decide to play the course in the future, I know when you sit down in that beautifully-designed club house and you are all chatting over that well-deserved cold drink of choice, this track is going to be right up there in your must-play courses. It is in mine and I canít wait to play it again.
Great finishing hole to a fantastic course © James Mason photos taken on the day of play