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 was due to begin in the summer of 2019, but one-year later ground had yet to be broken.
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.”
Once completed, these exciting developments will ensure that Monte Rei goes from strength to strength, cementing this relatively unknown golfing area on the map.
Not a weak hole in sight and some that go into the spectacular. Every hole presents a different challenge and would test any golfer.Thinking mans golf too. You have to shape the ball and it is not about knocking the ball 250 yards plus down every par 4 or 5. As to the facilities, this would challenge any American experience at the very top level. Every face has a welcoming smile and I thought it supplied a really good bang for your buck. Please don't put the prices up though!
Monte Rei is a real modern masterpiece blending beautifully into its natural surroundings. Each hole is routed so that there is no interference from adjoining fairways, many sculpted between the hills and sitting in secluded shallow valleys. The numerous raised tees without doubt add to the anticipation as each new challenge is laid out before you. Water comes into play on eleven holes but it’s the beautifully designed bunkering that leaves a lasting impression. Big, bold and plentiful especially around the greens which they frame to perfection. There are less than 100 bunkers in total but they are as impressive as anything I have come across on my travels. The greens putt superbly well and will certainly provide you with a few interesting challenges if your iron play is a little off line. There are no bad holes here, the short par4 12th over water and the long uphill par5 6th with a wide open second shot were possibly my least favourites but to be fair I still enjoyed them. All five par3 holes are very good, the long downhill 11th and pretty 14th hugging the waters edge being memorable but the 9th which is perched on the other side of a valley surrounded by a circle of huge bunkers is simply stunning. Favourites amongst the longer holes would be the 3rd where the green juts out into the lake and the 8th with its huge sculptured bunker sitting below a raised green. Clever run off areas around the green are a feature on the 8th and add to the interest around many of the other greens complexes also. The 15th provides an interesting challenge with water running the full length of the hole and the 18th is an interesting risk and reward par5 to finish on but the 13th is the best hole on the course for me. A good drive landing short of the fairway bunkers will leave you with a downhill approach to a very picturesque and undulating green sat on the edge of a lake. The green fee maybe a bit steep but when you add the standard of service and quality of food to great design and world class conditioning it may be sometime before Monte Rei gets knocked from its perch as the No.1 course in Portugal. Brian W