Oitavos Dunes lies close to the most westerly point on the European mainland, where fairways are set out on beautiful sandy terrain close to the coast. It’s more seaside than links, right enough, though the playing conditions were pretty firm and fast when I played here a few months ago now.
I absolutely loved the opening four holes, played along fairways lined on either side by umbrella pines, with wonderfully contoured greens melting into their surroundings. The course then opens up when the routing moves north and further inland to holes set out across more elevated terrain.
Fairway bunkering on the par four 5th makes this hole easily the toughest on the front nine (rated stroke index 1), though the back-to-back par fives at the 7th and 8th are also pretty difficult due to their narrowness and the danger of out of bounds down the right, beyond the trees on that side.
I liked the elevated tee position of the par three 9th at the furthest point from the clubhouse but the boundary fence to the right of the next three holes distracted me until I reached the thrilling pair of par three holes at the 14th and 15th, situated within the most heavily contoured part of the course.
Holes 17 and 18 bring players back to the lovely wooded area close to the clubhouse, reviving memories of the opening four holes from four hours earlier, and these testing par fours are a great way to complete a round that certainly has its moments at the start, in the middle and at the end.
As long as you keep expectations in check (as in don't anticipate playing a world class layout, which is a very tall order in continental Europe) then you’re bound to really enjoy what’s on offer here. I’ve now visited almost every one of the courses currently listed in the Lisbon & Centre regional listings and Oitavos Dunes is right up there with the best of them.
Date: September 02, 2018