Measuring 7,370 yards from the tips, the Ribagolfe No.1 course was designed by European Golf Design in conjunction with former Ryder Cup golfer Peter Townsend and built for tournament play. Nonetheless, Ribagolfe No.1, sometimes referred to as the Blue course, is very playable for club golfers from the forward tees.
One of two 18-hole courses that are laid out within a huge cork oak forest to the north east of Lisbon, the No.1 course plays longer and tighter than the No.2 course, with narrower fairways placing a premier on accurate shot making.
Treacherous lakes come into play on the back nine at the long par five 12th, the short par four 14th and at the shortest hole on the course, the all-carry par three 15th, where water sits to the front left of a raised green that’s flanked on either side by sand.
The 36-hole Ribagolfe facility is located an hour’s drive from Lisbon, with both 18-hole courses laid out across one third of a large estate that’s mainly covered in carob oak trees. It’s said that a clubhouse cannot be built next to the opening and closing holes because the layouts occupy part of a national park but such planning issues should surely have been resolved before building the courses? As it stands, there’s a clubhouse of sorts located close to the entrance gates, a 5-minute drive away, which is slightly inconvenient but of no great consequence in the wider scheme of things.
The course itself is all you would expect of a European Golf Design project – a top class layout with wide, beautifully routed fairways which have obviously been constructed to a very high standard. Quite a number of greens are perched on natural ridges and high spots, with really good use made of the rolling topography. The only real blemish for me was the par five 12th, rated stroke index 1, where the fairway kinks severely left, over an enormous beach bunker, to a stone-edged green that sits next to an artificial lake.
The beach bunker theme returns again at the par three 15th before the run for home begins in earnest at the following hole, a left doglegged par five that’s played to a green with an enormous tree and huge bunker complex for protection directly in front of the putting surface. Ribagolfe I is a really decent track with a particularly good set of par threes (especially the 196-yard 5th, where the tee shot from an elevated position must carry to a green that’s benched into the upslope on the opposite side of a little valley) and it’s worth going the extra kilometres from the city to play.