Designed by UK architect Terry Murray, the original course at Castro Marim (comprising the Atlantic and Guadiana nines) first opened for play in 2001 and this 18-hole layout was joined seven years later by the Grouse nine, which plays a little shorter than either of the two original 9-hole circuits.
The tree-lined Atlantic and Guadiana loops play through some narrow valleys and across rather hilly terrain, with many of the Bermuda grass fairways doglegging right or left from the tee box around imposing water hazards.
For a course that features quite a number of tantalising short par fours, it’s ironic that the par five 4th on the Atlantic should be included in Jeff Barr’s book, 1001 golf holes you must play before you die. Here’s what the author had to say about this iconic hole:
“The 4th hole at Castro Marim features a tee shot played from an elevated tee to a low-lying fairway. It’s a common occurrence on this compact course close to the Spanish border. The drive needs to be thought through carefully. The hole doglegs left and a lake lies beyond the dogleg on the right of the fairway.
The ideal line is to try to keep as tight to the corner of the dogleg as possible, leaving a better chance of getting close to the green with the second shot. The problem is that it has to be played uphill, making the shot longer.Even those who lay up will still face a second shot played uphill to a green protected by a bunker, young pine trees and the natural slope of the land. Finding the putting surface isn’t easy, so pray your wedge play is sharp when you arrive at Castro Marim’s par five 4th.”
Played here as part of a tour of the Algarve. I have to say while this course is relatively short it is very demanding and requires constant accuracy, if you miss the fairway you are in scrub land looking for the ball. There are some positives and negatives about the course and I will start with the negatives because I want to finish on a high note. The course needs maintanence, the rough is patchy the greens are slow, however they are clearly doing what they can for a course that is out of the way. With more players paying to play, they can easily resolve this.
On the positive the layout is demanding, there are some great risk and reward holes, and the approach to the 12th found 3 balls in a bunker and then some fun and games trying to get out. There are a good few holes that stand out and I would recommend giving it a go as golf in the Algarve is not cheap this helps balance the books a bit.
On a final point this costs about a fifth of the price of Monte Rei but is not a 5 times worse.