Quinta do Peru is located to the south of Lisbon between Sesimbra and Setúbal and it’s one of the greatest courses in the Azeitão region. It’s also one of the most exclusive, but thankfully you can still get a game if you book in advance.
Set in a pine forest, which extends to more than 300 acres, with the Arrabida Mountains as a backdrop, Quinta do Peru is special, very special. American architect Rocky Roquemore designed it in 1994 and the owners have spared the course from the blemish of residential development. Quinta do Peru is routed across a high undulating plateau and from here you are presented with some delicious views across the treetops.
Both nines start with very demanding par fives and end with equally testing holes – both the 9th and 18th are the only par fours longer than 400 yards on the outward and inward half. Water features prominently at two of the par three holes. The 220-yard 8th and 195-yard 16th are played across lakes to well-guarded greens that may appear very small to those who have turned up expecting a quiet round of holiday golf!
It’s a serious test from the back tees and with some huge American-styled bunkers and water hazards, you should not expect to play to handicap at your first attempt. The setting is most natural and picturesque and this varied and interesting course has already tested the European Challenge Tour Pros. Quinta do Peru is simply stunning.
Some might make the big mistake of looking at where this course is ranked in the Top 100 Lisbon and Centre listings then subconsciously disregard it because it occupies a mid-table place in the chart – that would be a very big mistake, believe me.
Having visited three of the six currently more highly ranked Lisbon courses just the day before, Quinta do Peru is easily better than at least one of them so in no way should a position in the middle of a strong regional chart indicate that a course is just another run of the mill track.
Quinta do Peru is set out on gently undulating terrain so the holes rise and fall moderately over a beautifully forested landscape in a very pleasant manner. Water comes into play sparingly at the par three 8th then on three consecutive finishing holes, starting at the par four 15th.
I really liked the back-to-back short par fours at holes 6 and 7 but my favourite hole on the front nine was the 178-metre 3rd, a lovely par three played slightly downhill to a heavily sand-protected green.
On the back nine, the 13th is a formidable par five that heads downhill towards a stream that slashes across the hole before the fairway then veers a left to the green. It’s not often you see the 18th hole rated as stroke index 1 but that’s exactly what happens with this course so there’s no respite to be found at the end of the round!
I was genuinely surprised by the quality of the course that I found here and it really set a high benchmark for comparison with the other two Orizonte Lisbon Golf courses that I would play over the next two days of my trip to the capital.
Quinta do Peru is one of only eight highly commended Portuguese courses in The Pocket Guide to Golf Courses Spain & Portugal by Beckenham Publishing and I can fully understand now why the authors ranked it alongside the likes of Praia D’El Rey and Penina.
Quinta do Peru is a superb place to play 'holiday golf'. It is an extremely relaxing course to play, very quiet (no conveyor belt golf here) and the staff are extremely friendly. I do not think the course is at all tough. The fairways are generous and even if you stray into the trees, it is easy to find your ball, and I often had some sort of a shot out.
The location is stunning with the Aribida mountains in the background. The villas around the course are HUGE and set well back, so it's not like the Costa del Golf etc.A couple of par 3s have a carry over water which might trouble the high handicappers, but otherwise they aren't too tough.There are also a couple of waterlined holes which will eat up your hooks.There are loads of bunkers, however none of them are deep so they don't necessarily penalise you.
One thing to watch is the greenside bunker on 9, the sand was very thin when I played and it's rocks below which took great chunks out of my vokey - thanks!They clearly put a lot of effort into the greens which look stunning, are extremely true albeit not as quick as they could perhaps be.One thing that is a real shame is the location of the clubhouse. It has a view of the driving range which is just bizarre.
The other major complaint is that a pint of beer in there is about 6 euro (Guiness!!!???)whereas a 5 minute drive down the road takes you to a local cafe/bar where they will bring an ice cold beer to your table for about 1 euro. As a result nobody goes to the clubhouse, and it lacks any atmosphere.As mentioned elsewhere, practice facilities are fantastic - there's a beautiful range where you can hit off grass and an excellent putting green.
All in all a very good, yet not too difficult course.