Quinta do Lago – A Guide to the North
The Algarve is a region renowned for great golf, but all other courses pale into insignificance when compared to the immaculate greens on offer at Quinta do Lago.
There are three main courses at Quinta do Lago: the North Course, the South Course and the most recent addition, Laranjal. All three courses are achingly beautiful, with a distinctive umbrella pine canopy frame, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Ria Formosa National Park on the other. It's difficult to think of another golf course with such a natural and beautiful setting.
Set against the azure blue skies of the Algarve, the lush greens of the fairway and the crystal clear waters of the lakes looks gentle and welcoming but beware the golfer who isn't pinpoint accurate with their shot! Quinta do Lago was created for the very best golfers and is specifically designed to provide a challenge with every strike of the ball.
Golf is always great fun on a holiday.
Here we take a closer look at the first of the three main courses: the North Course.
Originally known as the Ria Formosa course because of the glimpses of the nature reserve that can be seen from many of the holes, the North Course looks deceptively simple.
However, don't be deceived by its relatively benign appearance; the greens undulate and sneaky little bunkers and water hazards will trip up any player who doesn't place their ball well. At 6126 metres in length, it's not quite as long as the South Course but offers the same par of 72. This is testament to the challenges the course offers golfers of all abilities, whilst providing glorious surroundings.
The course was designed by two different golfing architects but flow together seamlessly. William F. Mitchell, a US golfing expert, was responsible for creating holes 1-5 and 15-18 as they are now known, in 1974. Holes numbered 6-14 didn't open until 1989 and were designed by collaboration between Joseph Lee and Rocky Roquemore.
As you would expect from a resort course with the reputation of Quinta do Lago, the fairways and putting greens are exemplary and are able to withstand the heat of the Algarve climate whilst remaining immaculate throughout.
Putting greens are sown with Penn Bent Grass seeds, creating the glass-smooth putting greens that the resorts at Quinta do Lago are renowned for. The fairways and tee areas are sown with Bermuda 419 Hybrid seeds, providing excellent all-round surfaces for accuracy and ball movement.
The 18 holes are set within a woodland area, with pine umbrellas skirting the course and gorse, heather and wild flowers surrounding the fairways. Being so close to the beach and ocean, the rough is sandy and adorned with umbrella pine needles although in the springtime, the wild flowers provide extra coverage to the area.
The walk between the tees can be a fair trek at times so hiring a golf buggy may be an idea unless you want the exercise!
As you may expect, the course offers white, yellow and red tees and there's roughly 40-110 yards difference between the shortest and longest positions.
A breakdown of the holes
Whilst the exact pin position may vary depending on the green keeper, it's possible to give a guide to the par and length of each hole on the North Course which is as follows:
Hole Par White length Yellow length Red length
14401 yds 372 yds 328 yds
23197 yds 159 yds 120 yds
35527 yds 494 yds 444 yds
44416 yds 383 yds 361 yds
54377 yds 350 yds 339 yds
64349 yds 336 yds 293 yds
75551 yds 529 yds 402 yds
83167 yds 153 yds 131 yds
94416 yds 401 yds 357 yds
104392 yds 382 yds 357 yds
115612 yds 560 yds 509 yds
124360 yds 344 yds 250 yds
134409 yds 392 yds 359 yds
143168 yds 154 yds 125 yds
154405 yds 366 yds 339 yds
163175 yds 142 yds 104 yds
174357 yds 329 yds 268 yds
185525 yds 481 yds 421 yds
The par for the entire course is 72, with 36 going out and 36 coming in, an even spread between the two halves.
The North Course offers a mixture of long drives and shorter pars but all are equally demanding, requiring precision and concentration from those playing there. The greens are fast and sloping and are typically at their fastest during the months of January and February.
Who doesn't want to play on an immaculate course?
The course runs on an anti-clockwise loop, giving a definite benefit to players who can draw the ball well.
All of the par 4 holes are doglegs, with the exceptions of holes 10 and 13. Getting the positioning of the ball right from the tee shot is essential for a good total. The 6th hole is particularly tricky to get right, with a cluster of bunkers on the left of the fairway and the pine trees on the right. The green is also bunkered on two sides, making the length of your shot vitally important.
Although the canopy of pine trees provides shelter to the course, the elevated pin position on the 14th hole has caught many golfers unawares, particularly bearing in mind the low par. Although only a medium length par 3 holes, the bunkers on the left and right sides of the green coupled with banks at the front and bank mean players will be sorely tested here.
Four of the holes are a tough par 5, requiring players to get their fairway strokes exactly right in order to stand any chance of keeping their tally low. The 18th hole is known to be particularly difficult; a par 5 with a lake water hazard, a dog leg and a sloping green deservedly earns it the nickname of 'the killer'.
Quinta Do Lago has a great golf course.
It's possible to hire hand and electric golf trolleys, as well as a golf buggy if you don't fancy the walk between holes. Clubs can also be rented if you don't have your own and private tuition is also available.
You will need soft spikes and a handicap certificate to play. The site includes a chipping green, driving range, putting green as well as a shop, restaurants and bars.