Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, has been heralded for many years as a wonderful city break destination. A beautiful city blessed with amazing architecture, history and culture, not to mention restaurants serving delicious local dishes and fresh seafood. However, that’s not the end to the interest the Vale de Tejo and Oeste regions can offer. If you can bring your clubs and stay a little longer you will experience some of the best golf courses in Portugal.
Along with such excellent courses Penha Longa, Oitavos, and Aroeira that all rate highly in the Top 100 Golf Course rankings, Praia D’El Rey Golf and Beach Resort is one of the area's top courses and shouldn’t be missed. An hour northwest of Lisbon on the Costa de Prata, and not far from the attractive medieval town of Obidos with its whitewashed houses, Moorish castle and natural lagoon, Praia D’El Rey occupies a wonderful and privileged position.
Designed by the renowned and respected American architect Cabell B. Robinson who has been responsible for a number of excellent European courses, Praia D’El Rey opened for play in 1997. The course is set in two loops of nine holes, has a par of 72 and measures 6,405 metres from the championship tees. It is reported that having viewed the site for the course at Praia D’El Rey, Robinson modestly said "This is the kind of landscape we architects try to create, but at Praia D'El Rey it's all here, naturally. Now it's my responsibility to protect it". He has made an excellent job of doing just that.
Rather like the excellent layout at Oitavos just down the Portuguese coast, Praia D’El Rey mixes great holes cut through lush vegetation with a number of holes that run along the coastline and encompass sand dunes and links-style challenges whilst at the same time providing amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby Berlenga Islands. With large threatening bunkers and thoughtfully designed and located greens the course will make the golfer think from tee to green.
The early holes head gently uphill and then downhill towards the coast and the amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean but don’t let them distract you, after a reasonably comfortable dogleg opening hole the 2nd is a cracking par five measuring 463 metres with water on the right and bunkers and rough ever present.
From the 4th hole the course turns inland for the rest of the front nine and the pick of the holes include the long par four 5th measuring 441 metres and the great par three 8th requiring an accurate shot to carry the large lake to an oval green protected by bunkers at the back. Finally, the 9th is a great finish to the front nine. It may be pretty straight, but it measures 393 metres and it’s all uphill with a narrow fairway and there are no fewer than nine bunkers to contend with.
The back nine starts with a superb par five measuring 460 metres with a tricky green protected by a deep bunker left and an even deeper lake right! From here the back nine just gets better and better and every hole is worthy of note. If any have to be picked out for special accolade then it must be the stretch from 12-15 that all run along the coast and are superb tests with or without the often present Atlantic breezes. A mention must also go to the 17th, a monstrous uphill par five measuring 570 metres – for those using yards that’s over 620 of them!
Gold World described Praia D’El Rey as "A mix of holes – some in the mighty dunes, others among fragrant pines – that are an assault to the senses. Wild and wonderful" and we can only concur with them and we thoroughly recommend a visit to this great course.
Praia D’El Rey is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
Unfortunately we played the course on a misty day so did not get the benefit of the views which I understand are one of the major plus points of the course. However, we all enjoyed the course and preferred it to the higher ranked West Cliffs next door. It was simply far more playable, the course was in better condition and the walks between greens and tees were not as long.
I really need to play the course on a better day to give it a proper review. As it stands few of the holes stick in my mind two weeks after playing it so my rating might be lower than the course deserves.
What a great place to have your first post Covid lockdown visit. Beautiful weather, nice sea breezes and a lovely resort course located in the dunes and coastal pine forest. Praia D’El Rey has a nice mix of varied golf holes, plenty of width and variation to make it fun for all levels of resort guests. I liked that there were some semi narrow tree lined holes thrown into the mix on the front 9 and some very strategic short holes that keep you in check off the tee.
The highlight of the round for me were the seaside holes, 12-15. The 13th is a medium length par 3 that plays just to the right of the ruins of a house with the sea in the background. The green has some interesting pin positions behind the dune on the right side. The 15th runs down the coast and is a medium length par 4 with a speed slot on the left side that can propel a solid tee shot taking on the native area that runs down the left another 20-30 meters leaving a short iron approach down to the green.
Another notable par 3 that you don’t run into too often was the 11th. It was playing about 170 meters steep up hill to a back pin. The back-pin position has a severe bottleneck and if I ever played the hole again I wouldn’t go for it in the same way I did even though I luckily pulled off a 2.
My favorite short par 4 was the 4th which forces a strategic choice off the tee and a decision of how much you really want to cut off. The approach with a short iron is to a raised green with a tricky upper tier in the back that also bottlenecks. It seems we had a lot of Sunday pins on the day.
As a set the greens were quite fun to play with a lot of variation for a resort course. It also makes a nice contrast to the far more difficult addition to the resort that is West Cliffs.
On top of that staying at the resort itself even in these times of Covid was wonderful. We stayed in the beach front condos and enjoyed the sound and view of breaking waves which was amazing. Both the resort as well as surrounding towns can be commended for the very careful and professional way in which they handle the precautions for Covid. Masks required everywhere, even by their staff, hand cleaning stations before entering any place and we really felt Portugal was the safest place we have seen since the pandemic started. All in all very reassuring and I’d encourage anyone to go to Portugal now and Praia D’el Rey is a fantastic destination be it water sports, golf or just relaxation on beautiful beaches.
PDR is a brilliant course design that combines true links golf with pure parkland holes in a very unique and interesting way to play.
The course is a tough test from the back tees, but also offers great rewards for good shots. On many tees you need to know the right lines to hit, so I suggest to prepare your tee shots very well. The greens are very fast and are often quite big green complexes. Often you need to hit it at the right spots. Otherwise you face a 25 yard put on a very fast green.
The course is in amazing shape. It‘s a lot of fun and true test for good players, while still somehow playable for high handicappers.
Played Praia twice during our week long stay on the Silver Coast. In terms of variety of terrain and different styles of holes it was probably the preferred course of our mixed handicap group. There's nothing really tricked up here and the vistas along the coast from the linksy 12th to the 15th contrast rather nicely with the tree-lined holes on the front 9. The other aspect that made the course interesting was that we played one day on a benign, sunny afternoon and then on a dull, blowy, chilly morning. The course was an entirely different beast on our second go but never felt unplayable or unfair. It was just a different kind of (bobble-hated) fun.
A perfect afternoon of seaside golf; cloudless skies but not too hot, and a tremendously fun and scenic golf course. The benign and forgiving sibling of West Cliffs shouldn't be overlooked, mistakes are more likely to be punished with a bogey rather than a blob, so worth keeping score not just playing matchplay. Nice variety of holes, full par fives, and quick receptive greens.
"Seaweed smells from sandy caves
And thyme and mist in whiffs,
In-coming tide, Atlantic waves
Slapping the sunny cliffs,
Unidentified local birdsong and sea sounds in the air
And splendour, splendour everywhere..."
Praia D'El Rey Golf & Beach Resort is regarded as one of Portugal's premier golf courses. It was designed by American architect Cabell Robinson and opened for business in 1997.
Robinson routed the course through both links and parkland settings giving the course a different character from hole to hole. The 'parkland' holes are framed by pine trees and have a nice feel to them, but for mine it is the links style holes in the coastal dunes that are the most memorable at PDR.
Whilst the front nine loops around on the inland side of the course, the back nine heads for the coast. The anticipation builds as holes 10 and 11 head toward the beach and holes 12-15 are the reward: lovely links holes right on the water!
Despite the quality of the golfing terrain PDR appears a relatively simple course with relatively unsophisticated green complexes and bunkering. In this regard it has the feel of an 'olde worlde' course. Nevertheless the course has a certain rustic charm, and with quality accommodation next door (The Marriott) it makes for a very pleasant golfing stopover.
Praia D'El Rey is an entertaining place to play golf. Combine it with a stay at the Marriott hotel next door and more golf at the fabulous West Cliffs and perhaps Royal Obidos and it becomes a compelling short golfing trip in the making.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I’m holding my finish on the immaculate 15th tee in Praia Del Rey. More in horror than in hope. My titleist has decided to go home and is heading for America, despite the onshore breeze. “It’s coming back.” Says my comedian of a playing partner, as two yards of wind blown late fade forlornly eat into the 100 yards of towering pull that sent it sailing beyond the OB. Way Over the wild and floriferous scrub, hunkering tenuously, on the jagged sandy cliffs. My ball Disappearing perfectly, into the protean cauldron of elements, bordering this generous and magnificent hole; all the way from the High tee, down to the shimmering and tilted green in the swirling distance. My ball, lost, where the sky met the horizon and the crashing Atlantic rollers below.
We all agreed we could play here every day. We loved the routing. The variety. The conditioning. A championship golf course that’s fun to play and has no weak holes. To lose a ball here is not easy, but it can be done.
Because the course was so busy the afternoon I teed it up here, I played the back nine first – which made the more unexciting front nine appear a little insipid in comparison to what had gone before, so I recommend that you don’t reverse the nines if you can help it!
Regarding the front nine holes, the 2nd and 3rd have ocean views but they’re not particularly strong holes, the first doglegging down and right past a large hillside irrigation pond and the second playing slightly downhill to a rather bland par three.
Thankfully, things improve dramatically after crossing the road to venture further inland, with a great sequence of roller coaster holes from the 4th to the 7th and these get progressively tighter as you move from one to the next, culminating in a lovely raised green site at the par five 7th hole (pictured).
The 8th is a terrific par three – played from a seriously elevated tee position amongst thick native vegetation to a distant green that sits behind a sizeable pond – and it requires an “all-or-nothing” tee shot which is better long than short to avoid the risk of playing your next shot from the drop zone.
Moving onto the back nine, the first two holes really only function to get you away from the clubhouse to the coastline, where the main action takes place between the 12th and the 15th. It’s just a pity some may think the big residential development to the north of the property diminishes the longer views along the coast at this point.
I really liked the linksy, lived-in feel along this stretch, with rickety wooden fencing in the left rough to keep the sand from encroaching onto the fairways and the old disused buildings next to the 14th green (pictured) – it’ll be hard for some to stay focused when there are huge waves crashing onto the beach so close to where they’re playing.
After such a thrilling sequence, it’s only natural the last couple of holes back to the clubhouse will appear lacklustre in comparison but you should still have a strong feeling of elation when walking off the 18th, having just completed a memorable round on one of the best courses in the country.
Praia D'El Rey is a beautiful place! Set along the Atlantic, it offers a great golfing experience with high-level service. First, the facilities are good. The clubhouse is nice, with good food and a great terrace for your post-round meal and drinks. The practice facility is fine, but not great, and it could use some improvements, mainly a better short game area.
The course itself is a good one. The conditioning is good and the greens role true. The green complexes are not the most interesting in the world, but they do a good of keeping you thinking. The layout leads you from lush forest to the coastal dunes with tremendous sea views and vistas, and then back into the forest for the end of both nines. The best part of the course is definitely the one playing into the dunes along the Atlantic. While the real estate on the property does take away from what the course could be, holes 13, 14, 15 and 16 are arguably one of the best stretches of golf in Portugal! The 17th hole is a good, challenging par 5 giving you an opportunity at birdie, but it is not a memorable hole. The 18th is somewhat of a letdown, not capitalizing of the good momentum and excitement brought about by the previous holes.
Praia D’El Rey makes for a very good round of golf. If the wind is up, it will show its teeth. On a calm day, good scores can be had! With Royal Obidos next door, it is a great place to enjoy the good weather, the beach and the great atmosphere to be found in that part of Portugal. I look forward to seeing what the new Dye Design course being built along the same shores will look like!
This property has two sides to it… 1/ the course 2/ the resort
The course in itself is both challenging and stunning. The back 9 being world class. One of its strong points, is that it’s playable for all levels. Just play the tees of your handicap. It’s not too difficult, nor too easy, if you play well you’ll score well, just as golf is meant to be. But some drives are quite narrow so on a bad day keep your driver in the bag.
This course needs to be played more than once to understand the finer points of its design and strategy, as there are a few holes where you are sort of guessing the line, without it being trully blind holes.
Golfer info : many people drive a cart, but I walked and don’t feel like a cart is needed. You would much prefer walking the sea side holes, as you will want this moment to never end.
Then comes the resort part – There are way too many houses for my liking. It takes a bit off of the course unfortunately. Both fairways and greens were way over watered, as resort courses often are in the summer season .
On the drive back to Lisbon, my friend and I were so happy to have played it, with plenty of positive things to share and good shots to comment on. If you are in Lisbon, it’s worth the 90-minute drive, definitely!
You will leave the course on a incredibly high note – the ravishing beauty of the last 8 holes is intense.