You’ll need to fly into the middle of the Atlantic to the Azorean island of San Miguel to find Furnas but to play this course only once is worth the trip in its own right. The Azores has a delightful temperate climate but it can have all four seasons in one day, so take your waterproofs.
Furnas is set in a most gorgeous spot close to the lake and its thermal springs. It started out in life as a nine-hole course, designed by Philip Mackenzie Ross, a former partner of Tom Simpson. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these nines were a laid out in a rudimentary fashion. They were not. These nine Mackenzie Ross holes rank amongst the earliest holes created in Portugal but they also represent the best nine-hole collection in all Iberia.
Bob Cameron and Chris Powell had the responsibility of extending Furnas to 18 holes and in 1990 the new Furnas was ready for play. This is what Cameron and Powell had to say: “When we were planning and designing the new 9 holes we were extremely careful to try to avoid the mistake – made on so many extended courses – of imposing alien design characteristics onto a naturally beautiful and classical golf course.” Cameron and Powell were on a hiding to nothing to blend the old with the new; after all, the old nine was flanked with mature trees including stately Japanese cedars. But the design duo did a truly remarkable job and, when kindly Nature has taken its course and the new tree planting has matured, the two nines will zip together yet further.
With smallish plateaux greens, which are wickedly contoured, you’ll need a sharp short game to score well at Furnas. Only those in the know appreciate how good this course actually is, so mum’s the word.