Monte Rei Golf Club was originally nominated by Steve for inclusion on the Top 100 website as a gem and was added to the site on 19th September 2007. These are Steve’s original comments: “Not sure if you’d like to include Monte Rei Golf Club within the Portuguese section of the site as it is a fantastic new course, only open six weeks when I played it in late Aug 2007. Incidentally, this is a Jack Nicklaus signature course and he has done a superb job.” Since Steve’s original nomination, Monte Rei has risen meteorically in the golf course rankings.
The Algarve has remained popular with visiting golfers for many years providing an array of golf courses to suit all tastes and abilities. Some of the courses, like anywhere, are better than others in terms of conditioning, degree of difficulty and their ability to create a desire to return after the first visit. At Monte Rei Golf Club things are very different.
The club is located away from the concentration of courses that are abundant around the Albufeira area – Monte Rei is set in the hills northeast of Tavira towards the Spanish border and the mountain setting is very special, which is evident on arrival where stunning views greet you, providing a taster as to what to expect during the round ahead.
This is one of only a few Jack Nicklaus ‘Signature’ courses in Europe and the first to reach Portugal. The layout provides an unforgettable experience and we can safely say that this is a quality golf course, which deserves its high rating in the Portuguese and Continental European rankings.
The course features an abundance of water hazards and some of the very best bunkering we’ve seen for some time. Additionally there are no weak holes and the opener is a par four played from an elevated tee to a fairway that doglegs to the right. Huge bunkers must be avoided both off the tee and at the green to ensure a strong start to your round. There are too many great holes to list here but our favourites come into play at a special corner of the course.
The 13th is a downhill par four with bunkers at the drive landing point and a lakeside green that undulates wickedly. Even though the approach to the green is likely to be less than 100 yards, a par is a great achievement. The 14th is probably the prettiest hole at Monte Rei – a medium length par three where the tee shot must carry a lake to find the green and anything pulled left will find a watery grave. The 18th is a cracking finishing hole, a par five that is in reach for the biggest of hitters but watch out for the lake that is in play for everyone’s second and third shots.
As well as having a highly respected golf course, Monte Rei pay attention to detail. The level of service in and around the sumptuous clubhouse is world-class, so expect to be treated well. Four more luxury courses are planned for the area in the coming years, which will be designed by Tom Weiskopf and Kyle Phillips. Construction on the second Jack Nicklaus Signature layout began in the summer of 2019.
The Golden Bear commented as follows: “The South course will have many similar features to the North: great trees, wonderful topography, beautiful vistas, and has the potential to be another sensational course. Our mission will be to maximise the existing terrain and natural features, so we can create an experience that has its own distinct personality, with the same commitment to excellence that golfers expect when they visit Monte Rei.”
These exciting developments will ensure that Monte Rei goes from strength to strength, cementing this relatively unknown golfing area on the map.
Monte Rei is a weird one. I like it, but don't love it, and think it's overrated. The hospitality is great, but it's always dead so they have no one else to focus on. You have to take a buggy which I really don't like. The course is good, with lots of really good holes. My problem with it is every hole goes through a valley which makes it feel like you're playing the same hole over and over. Worth playing, but I wouldn't play it again.
Palmarès on the coast is a far better course in my opinion, and you'll be able to remember the holes weeks later, which can't be said for Monte Rei.
Although the very modest route to get to Monte Rei may not seem like much, you definitely know when you've arrived at the golf course. A long road with fine views over the course and spectacular villas makes sure you won't be leaving anytime soon.
You're made to feel like a honoured guest as soon as you pull up, taking your car and loading the golf bags straight onto the buggy. A short ride to the scenic driving range where free range balls await with a wonderful short game area and putting green. Overall the practice facilities were brilliant.
The starters reception at a course of this calibre is pretty similar, handing out tees and other bits and bobs before getting the round underway. The course itself is immaculate, the condition top notch and I loved how every hole was an adventure. It's a kind of layout you can go 6 holes without seeing another human, even on a fairly busy day.
Going through every single hole and what I liked is very repetitive so I'll leave you with just one. 13. What a golf hole! Proving a par 4 can be appreciated teeing off from up high to a fairway in between two dunes. Leaving a wonderful second shot downhill to a picturesque green with a sharp drop-off straight after to a lake.
It's a golf course you need a buggy on, in fact they won't even let you walk the course, buggies up to the usual hi tech standard with course map, yardages live scoring etc etc.
Members of the team were waiting for us after our round to collect the buggy, clean our clubs and hand us a special little memento. A Monte Rei bag tag with our names engraved on the bag. Little touches like that do really add to the experience for me.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Monte Rei (and the price tag that comes with it!) to anyone looking for a pristine round of golf in a luxurious place.
We spent 5 days at Monte Rei last spring and played the course 4 times. It has stuck in my mind ever since, not just for the quality of the course (amongst the best of the Jack Nicklaus fleet) but for the luxury of everything about the place. Excellent pro shop and caddymaster staff, 15 minute tee times so no one needs feel pressured, practice facilities with a snack bar (which serves as the halfway hut) and a quality hotel.
The facility is owned by a Portuguese family who are insisting on maintaining quality throughout and who do not want the course flooded with players (hence the 15 minute tee intervals and premium green fee price). A second 18 is being constructed, again designed by Jack Nicklaus.
This is a premium facility and any golfer appreciating quality should try and play it.
One of the most beautiful courses in Continental Europe.
Monte Rei Golf Club is located up in the hills near the Spanish Border, a little inland of most of the courses in Portugal's Algarve region. Designed by Jack Nicklaus in 2007, the North course is part of a high-end housing estate. A second course – The South Course – is now underway.
Monte Rei aspires to provide a very different experience to other resort courses in The Algarve, and from my experience they have been successful. Nicklaus & team have created a world-class course using the natural terrain to great affect.
The course has variety, and is beautifully finished. Water hazards are in play on eight holes, but it is the bunkering that dominates proceedings on the North Course. It will surprise no one that strategic placement of the many bunkers is spot on – we expect that of Nicklaus design! However the North Course bunkering is also both artistic and eye catching and I was most impressed!
I also found it interesting just how much course the design was dictated by the land – perhaps more than any Nicklaus design I have seen.
Wonderfully unique holes like the par 4 thirteenth hole are the result. Yet the previous hole (12) is largely fabricated with a driveable green protected by a nicely shaped lake. However, it is fun to play! So, all credit to the architects: they have used the land they were given to maximum affect, and then created interest when the cupboard was bare. That's a sign of good design work, I'd say!
Monte Rei is an outstanding, world-class golf course. The whole Monte Rei experience – golf, accommodation, dining is top notch, and the service levels are as good as anything in the world. All Travelling Golfers headed to Portugal should aspire to play Monte Rei.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
From arrival, this club oozes class. Impeccable service, incredible practice facilities and a truly outstanding golf course. Whilst it may be a bit of a drive from the usual hotspots of Algarve, it most certainly warrants any time spent getting there. It would easily have been getting 6 balls from me was it not for the fact it was ever so slightly recovering from maintenance work from the week prior. Special.
This an outstanding place. From arriving to tee off, practice area, breakfast immaculate. Stayed in one of the villas - again exceptional. Course was one of the best we had played although at the time the greens had a lot of dressing. Cant wait to play this course again.
Just played Monte Res. What a track!
The whole experience is first class. The service, greeting and organisation were better than anywhere I have played; friendly and welcoming as well as professional and appropriate.
The course is possibly the most enjoyable, and challenging track I've played (I haven't played any of the other big courses in the Algarve but many Open/Ryder courses and this is easily in that company).
There were some high handicappers out there and think they had a long day, but whilst very challenging the course is fair. The finish in particular, from 13 onwards is stunning although there isn't a bad hole on the course.
Was disappointed with the condition of monte rei - initial reception was very effusive and practise facility top notch but the course was a 'let down'
Fairways were 'dried out' it is not a links so I would expect that a course charging as they do would have a fairway watering system!!!
Some lovely looking holes cut through valleys but the 'greens' !!!
They were surrounded by a 'metal,' border which protruded above ground but sat approx 2 cms below the surrounding first cut - what is this all about? Protecting the green from intrusion of fairway grasses ?
Not very pleasing when you hit one on a chip!,,
I wonder were the other commentators playing the same course as I did?
We played on February 18 2019 a glorious day
The course is stunning it covers a vast area and the setting is dramatic. There are some lovely lakes, the fairways are cut very close the greens are lightening, and the welcome is top notch. Staff brought us sandwiches and fruit on the third fairway. It isatranquil and beautiful place to play golf.
The downside is the excessive bunkering, which made the course very punitive. Unlike Kingsbarns it seems designed to punish you not reward. Some of the bunker locations were absurd making approach shots nigh on impossible.i wonder how many punters will return for a second helping? Everything is on a big scale, the course is too severe for a mediocre ball striker, despite the several tee choices available.
Many thanks for your detailed review and firstly please let me express my extreme disappointment that any client has left Monte Rei with a bad impression. Our service standards and the experience we provide are imperative to our brand, and we strive to enhance as opposed to harm this. Please accept my sincere apologies if you feel the course did not live up to your expectations. I will try and explain in relation to the points you have made.
We have Bermuda warm season grass on our fairways and our roughs that play perfectly during the time of year you played, but Bermuda does stops its growth and loses its color in cooler temperatures. This does not have an effect on its performance, but visually it is yellow which some are not used to seeing. Perhaps is our job to educate golfers from the countries that are new to this environmental friendly grass. At Monte Rei we choose the best grass type available for this areas weather conditions, so the greens have a different grass type to fairways, therefore a (plastic not metal) liner is used beneath the surface between greens and fairways to avoid any infestation of Bermuda to our Bent grass greens. At the time of your visit the renewal of this liner did occur on the 1st, 10th and 11th holes because the turf had just been re-sodded. This is standard procedure for this purpose. We are proud to say after 10 years this has allowed our team to keep the green pure Bent grass which gives a perfect surface all year around.
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club
Is this the best course in the Algarve - yes. Is this the best course in Portugal - no. I would suggest that Oitavos Dunes and West Cliffs are better. I have played MR 3 times and it is a very good track with some wonderful holes 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13 (this is a special hole, especially from the tips, where you play through a valley to a slght downhill approach with mountains and a lake as a backdrop), and 16, 17 and 18 represent a strong finish. All the par 5s are brilliant holes One slight gripe which Top Reviewer Dan mentioned, is that there is a bias towards left to right shaped holes and whether by design or not, holes nos 1 and 10 are almost identical. That said there is enough land to have a wonderful sense of isolation with most holes invisible from others. Its not cheap (although we had a round of golf, free range balls, buggy and an excellent 3 course lunch for Euro 200) but the experience is high end. Pace of play was excellent and course quiet. Well worth at least 1 visit.