The Algarve is well endowed with golf courses so it may have come as
something of a surprise when the 18-hole Espiche layout opened for play in
2012. Truth be told, it had endured a long gestation because construction on
the course began in the 1990s but a succession of serious problems – not least
the global financial crisis of 2007-8 – held the project up until it eventually
made its debut.
Designed by South African architect Peter Sauerman, the course is set in an Ecological Reserve, where the landscape has been left as undisturbed as possible. Holes have been sympathetically routed around woodland and wetland areas, allowing golfers to connect to the stunning natural environment of the Western Algarve, and the real estate element to be developed will remain separate from the golfing ground.
The small lakes, streams and indigenous planting of olive, fig and almond trees around the course all contribute in their own way towards enhancing the player’s connection with the local landscape, allowing golfers to trade the external sightlines of intrusive residential buildings found at other Algarve venues with views of the nearby vineyards and the marvellous Monchique Mountain range.
Located on a hilltop in the middle of the property, the stunning clubhouse – which has won a number of architectural awards – is built on the site of an old farm house, with stone from the original building used in the lower walls to preserve a little of the local identity. It’s a fabulous contemporary building, designed by Nadine Berger, which offers sensational views across the entire course from the top floor.The course measures 5,862 metres from the back tees, playing to a par of 72, and it’s configured with two returning nines, each of which starts with a relatively straightforward par five and ends with a difficult par four. It’s a lightly bunkered layout with sand hazards confined to mainly greenside traps (apart from holes 14, 16 and 17 which feature nests of fairway bunkers) and water in play at fewer than a handful of holes.
This course gets better every time you play there. First round you will lose balls as the course is cut into the natural terrain covered in natural undergrowth and trees, and you need to know how the course plays. The next time you play you will stand in admiration on every tee at the stunning scenery and the small strip of green fairway you need to hit. You will still lose some balls. The next time you play, you realise this is the best conditioned course in the whole algarve,. My friend commented last week on the 18th, "I've just found a leaf on the green, that's the first imperfection I've seen on any green." The greens are amazing, different grass to most, rolls absolutely true, no marks, no worn areas, just perfect. If you hit your ball high onto the green it stops dead. A joy to play.
The course has some stunning holes, my pick are 3rd, SI1, stunning par 4 over a lake down left side, par 4 8th is a short dog leg left, enticing you to draw it over the corner. The 11th and 16th have water short of the greens to make you think about your drive and a great finishing hole with s pond cut into the fairway.
The course is one of the 3 cheapest on the Algarve due it's location, but I would personally rate this second to Monte Rei as the best course on the Algarve, and I've played most.
Wow what a tough challenge this course is. At sme point it WILL bite you. We played on a windy day which made it even more entertaining.
The greens are amazing, some outrageous contours make for some interesting putts. It's a tight course so your driver may be best left in the bag.
The clubhouse is one of the best I've ever see.
Definitely would play again if in the area.