Golfers in the northeastern Bahia district of Brazil are well served by four quality courses that have opened along the Atlantic coastline in recent times: Costa do Sauípe and Praia do Forte to the north of Salvador, Ilha de Comandatuba and Terravista to the south of the state capital.
Designed by American architect Dan Blankenship, a former associate of Pete and Perry Dye, the Terravista golf course opened in 2004. Its fairways cover 175 acres of a resort complex that overlooks the Atlantic, near the small town of Trancoso on Brazil’s Discovery Coast (so called because it’s here that the first Portuguese settlers landed 500 years ago).
The front nine holes are routed through an Atlantic rainforest environment while the back nine holes are played closer to the coast, with four holes laid out along the edge of the cliffs. The signature hole is found here at hole 14, a much-photographed par three where the green is perched 150 feet above the water’s edge.
Architect, Dan Blankenship commented as follows: "Terravista Golf Course has proven to be the most enjoyable project of my career. Working in an area with incredible ocean views from seaside cliffs, native Brazilian rain forest, contours almost ideal for a golf course, and knowing that Brazil was discovered at this exact location 500 years ago, was a wonderful experience.
My construction team and I felt honored to be part of this amazing project and also felt a huge responsibility to deliver not just a golf course but a championship course that will stand the test of time in the ever growing game of golf.
My team and I hope that future rounds of golf at Terravista are as enjoyable as our time creating the golf course that has surpassed all of my dreams."
During the IAGTO Fam Trip to Rio we took 2 days to go to Porto Seguro and experience Trancoso in fantastic 4 bedroom villas plus play this awesome golf course located in a piece of land similar to Dye fore or Teeth of the Dog in Dominican Republic. It was designed by a guy who worked with the Dye family and it shows a lot specially in fairway shaping and greens design, plus perfectly well using the geography to create fantastic level changes and locating tees and greens in spots near the Ocean, cliffs or in between the jungle. After playing it I had the sensation of having played Dye Fore, also with the presence of that Anfitheatre beside 5th tee.
The course is kept in great shape, greens rolling fast and with windy conditions it was extremely fun to play. So fun it was that after a morning round and light lunch, in a twosome we rushed for another round in 1h57mins finishing every hole! And scoring decently.
About the course there are long par 4s, 2 great and reachable short ones, par 5s allow you to take some risks and all 4 par 3s are excellent. My only regret is it is the only course in the destination, so if you go there for a golf trip it is just a very nice beach and play this course as many times as you want as there was nobody but us ... and ROGER WATERS!!!
Will take a ride to the best holes:
- 4th Par 4: great dogleg to the right with an uphill second shot to a huge two platform green.
- 5th Par 5: dogleg right for the second shot where going for the green will be over the trees to a volcanoe green.
- 6th par 4: short one to a very nice small green, where you can go for it but if missing to the bunkers the approach is brutal.
- 10th par 4: nice tee shot over the water and downhill approach.
- 11th par 3: long one, extremely tough green and demanding shot.
- 12th par 4: reachable (I did with the 3 wood downwind) but if you miss either side or long there is big trouble. The stretch 12-15 boards the cliff and the ocean.
- 13th par 5: nice one, amazing location of the tee box. Green in two platforms offer many pin positions.
- 14th par 3: signature hole, carry over the cliff to a green that slopes 3 platforms from higherto lower and closed to the cliff, WOW!!
- 15th par 4: great tee shot over the cliff and ocean, downhill approach where the challenge is to get the correct distance.
- 17th par 4: my favourite, downhill long par 4 to an amazing green complex. The one that reminded me most about the Dye Fore Course in Dominican Republic.
Trancoso is clearly a great course and could battle for an at least World Top 200 spot. I have played many Top 100 which are not even close to the quality of this one ...
If you like the beach and want to mix it with some golf ... Trancoso!! And you can combine it with Rio de Janeiro playing the Olympic Course as well.
Imagine playing match play on one of the most beautiful courses in the world against the person who designed and built it. Yes, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Why is Terravista so beautiful? Imagine a course that runs near the Ocean. OK that’s cool. Now imagine a course that runs near the Ocean but it’s built on the top of a 50-meter cliff – yes this is super cool. There are four holes running right along the cliffs with two holes requiring a forced carry over them. Wait a little we will get there in a while but first let’s start from the beginning.
Terravista starts with an easy dog leg right par four followed by a par three with a lake guarding the left side and a big but undulated green. Number 3 is a nice par five where it is better to lay up in front of the green than to attack it.
The best hole on the front nine is number 6. This is a very interesting short par four in the shape of a boomerang with a bunker in the middle and everything sloping from this central point. If you can carry 230 yards you should aim right of the bunker and the hill will feed your ball almost to the green. If you don’t hit that far, aim left, you will have a longer but not so difficult approach. The designer, Dan Blankenship, told me that this hole came out just the way he wanted and it sure plays great.
Number 7 is the hardest hole on the course, long and tricky. The green is huge but there is a false front that would make MacKenzie proud, don’t miss your approach short because your ball may roll back 40 yards.
The second half is where the course meets the sea so be prepared and have a camera always ready. It all starts at #12 a drivable par four with the Ocean on your left and a big downhill on your right. The hill looks intimidating but it is actually a good place to leave your ball. From there you will have an uphill pitch to a forgiving green.
The next hole is a short par five that plays harder than it looks. Ocean on your left and OB on your right will require you to find the fairway on your first shot and stay there. The green has many contours and sits higher than the fairway, study your approach shot wisely because it is hard to make an up and down here.
Number 14 is the signature hole, a marvelous par three with the green hanging on the cliff edge. It is 210 yards from the back tees with a 180-yard forced carry over a 45-meter cliff – the visual impact is hard to describe. Even if you are playing from a different set of tees get a ball and give it a go from the back tee. The green has three tiers and if you find the correct one you will have a good chance to score a birdie.
After this shot of adrenaline, you should take some time at the 15th tee and enjoy the view. There are several turtle nests at the foot of the cliff so it is easy to spot them swimming in the water near the coral. By the way, this explains the turtle tee markers.
Number 15 is my favorite hole, another forced carry over the cliffs to an angled fairway is the perfect setting for a heroic hole – the closer to the cliff you go the better angle and the shorter distance to the green. The second shot will face the green surrounded by bunkers, a coconut plantation and the ocean, the only acceptable miss is short.
By the way, remember that match play? We were all square at the 17th and halved the last hole. I don’t know of a better way to finish a wonderful day’s golf.