Located between the town of Belas and Vale de Lobo – a short drive (by car) from Lisbon city centre – is the pretty golf course of Belas Clube de Campo.
Belas opened for play in 1997 and it stretches out to a healthy 6,280 metres from the tips, representing an enjoyable challenge for all standards of golfer. “Carved through valleys and over the rolling slopes of Carregueira, an area of fairly inhospitable hills, Belas was something of a tour de force for American designer Rocky Roquemore.” Wrote Michael Gedye in his Golfer’s Guide Portugal. “The rugged hillsides, with sparse vegetation, only accentuate the lush green succession of gently mounded fairways, large scalloped bunkers and areas of penal water. To build a golf course here was an achievement in itself; to produce one in such superb condition, nestling comfortably within the succession of rolling hills, is a triumph.”
Standout holes at Belas include the short par five 15th, called ‘Serpentine’ which features a stream that dissects the fairway which may catch the big hitters tee shot if using one of the forward tees. The back-to-front sloping green will represent a putting challenge if your approach shot ends above the hole. The home hole, modestly called ‘Great Hole’ is a strong and potentially watery par four where your approach shot must carry across a U-shaped lake in order to find sanctuary of the narrow, final green.
Belas is well worth searching out if you are playing in the Lisbon area. Having said that, the condition of the course was not great at the time of our visit. The fairways were looking a little tired and many of the bunkers were in a poor state. On the plus side the greens were excellent and we were told that a bunker renovation programme is on the horizon. Thecourse has plenty of memorable holes and measures a challenging 6700 yards when played from the white tees. Some of the rough is very penal so a degree of caution is required from the tee or you could quite easily rack up a few lost balls. There is great variety in the design with a good selection of par 3's including a couple of attractive drop holes, the 5th is long and well bunkered and the 17th has water on two sides of the green. There is also water short of the green on the 6th, a strong par-5 and the 9th, a dogleg par-4.
The finishing stretch from the 15th, an excellent downhill rollercoaster par-5, is very strong. A well bunkered dogleg left follows at 16 before the aforementioned 17th and a lovely short par-4 to finish. Hitting down from a raised tee you must avoid the pond on the right with both your tee shot and approach to the green. As things stand, midway between 3 and 4 balls would probably be the correct score. Brian W