Located an hour’s drive north of Lisbon on Portugal’s spectacular Silver Coast, West Cliffs is a Cynthia Dye design that first opened its doors to the golfing public in the summer of 2017.
Offering sweeping views of the Atlantic, Berlengas Islands and Óbidos Lagoon, this dramatic seaside layout has been laid out within a massive 200-hectare property consisting of rolling sand dunes and coastal vegetation.
Dye and her construction team worked closely with local government agencies to ensure minimum disruption to the environment, creating a well-balanced and sustainable links in a highly attractive location where it fits seamlessly into its natural surroundings.
The architect, niece of legendary golf architect Pete Dye, said: “With the Atlantic visible from every hole, West Cliffs is the most natural golf course site imaginable. One of the most impressive characteristics of the course is just how anchored it is to the native coastal environment."
“The terrain at West Cliffs is amazing. On the vast majority of the holes, it was only necessary to site the green complexes with a bit of shaping and then define the limits of grassing. For the most part, the course was already there waiting for us.”
The course sits in the heart of a new resort, which in time will offer residential opportunities and a future 5-star hotel. It’s currently managed by Praia D’El Rey which lies close to the West Cliffs site.
Measuring 6,382 metres from the back tees, the course plays to a par of 72. Greens are carpeted with 100% Pinehurst bentgrass, the fairways are a mix of Perrenial Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass and Creeping Red Fescue whilst the rough contains a blend of different fescue grasses.
Configured as two returning 9-hole circuits, the layout features a fabulous set of par threes at holes 2,
5, 12 and 16. Back-to-back par fives at the 6th and 7th form the backbone of
the front nine, with a pair of demanding par fours concluding the round at
holes 17 and 18.
I must admit I cannot compete with the macho self satisfaction of some of the previous reviewers who seem to believe this is a ‘fair test’ when they lose 6 balls in a round. I happen to think that golf should be about enjoyment and this golfer didn’t get enough of it after 2 rounds here!
Yes a great deal of money has been spent, (although more needs to be spent on unfinished buggy paths), yes the practice facilities, clubhouse, setting of the course are all good and yes some holes have nice views but there are many things not to like....
1. The greens had great surfaces but are too difficult to read for visiting amateurs. Most have run off areas that push the ball away from the hole ...or even off the green....and at 9.5 on the stimp according to the starter were as fast as they dare make them!
2. The par 3’s are all short(not 1 played longer than an 8 iron from the 6100yard tees) but they can humiliate you like no other course will. It is easy to 3 putt or to end up 25’ from the hole with a half decent chip because of humps and hollows on the greens. I did like the 5th (yes vaguely Redan like but the N. Berwick hole is fairer).
3. There isn’t much rough to prevent the ball entering scrub land.... (or water)so it will usually be lost or unplayable if you slightly miss a fairway.
4. You need a buggy unless you like to combine fell walking with golf. Why oh why do lazy designers from the USA insist on spreading out courses thereby making the game even more time consuming? I am amazed that some people have walked the course! Overall this is a very difficult test of golf & this (ailing)single figure golfer who has played many tournament courses over the last 30+ years still rates it highly but the designer must have a weird sense of what enjoyment is. This track is more difficult than Royal Óbidos (because of the greens) and far more difficult than Praia del Rey - but you can walk the latter easily & it does have quite a few birdiable holes. Of the 4 courses in the area West Cliffs seemed to be the least busy, so why is this bearing in mind most reviewers rave about it? Well I’m afraid I think I know, so if you go then be prepared to feel humiliated and frustrated at times and try to laugh when you 3 putt. And to anyone who feels this review doesn’t reflect their experience then that is fair enough but it certainly was mine. Lastly it was reported to me by an employee on our visit that last years tournament for lady scratch golfers was won with a score of +18, “....and they all just hated it”!!
I feel like you are missing the point....You haven't mentioned anything about the design of the course, the way the holes play through the land, and anything about the architecture.
It seems like you had a bad two days on a golf course that is designed to show any weakness in your game. From the sounds of it, the greens seem to reward excellent shots on the right tiers or right portions and punish errant shots by running them off into bowls.
Would you like it more if you missed the green and saw your ball kick towards the hole for a tap-in? Personally I like to earn my birdies by thinking about the holes and where to miss and when to attack flag locations.
Personally I think this is a stupid review and any one shouldn't take it into account.
I disagree with the above comment as points 1-4 do cover architectural elements of the course - albeit leaning towards set-up. I’ve not played West Cliffs, but it seems a reasonable review from a paying customer that doesn’t need to be ignored as “stupid”
Nick, I agree with you. Our best score was 30points when we played off the second back tees and EVERY single player loved it
The reviewer mentions the Portuguese amateur that was played in February in 35mph winds
Nick - why don’t you write your own review that focuses on the architectural merits of the course?
I think it's okay if Trevor writes his review like that. He apparently did not have fun and was frustrated. However, it is not clear that he was frustrated because he did not score well and did not play 30 points or he was frustrated because he played well (according to his abilities) but the course is unfair and punishes good shots. I have not played West Cliffs yet, but I find this critique of difficult greens very well known (St. Andrews Castle Course). However, I think that is absolutely unfounded and unjustified. Golf can also be fun when you play well but you do not well and when a golf course shows its difficulties. That is also a design element and indicates quality.
I played westcliffs this week and I do believe the review is absolutely incorrect. However the setup of the course is not a setup for people that want to play 7 birdies a round with a 15 handicap or people that want to have a shot at the green if they hit the ball 100 yards offline. The beauty of this course lies in the nature and the difficulties it brings. It lies in the beauty of studying a course and the greens before approaching them. It lies in learning more about the course every time you play it. For me this is a humbling beauty . And if I find the possibilities to play it more often, maybe one day I will feel i conquered it, .. and that's beautiful
This is a tremendous course that can only get better. We played it no more than 16 months after it opened and it was in exemplary condition. There are perhaps two ordinary holes and the rest are challenging and beautifully set in scrub land and dunes near to the sea which is visible from every hole. It’s a physical course to play and next time I would take a buggy as there are some long walks between holes. I imagine high handicappers will struggle here; it is entirely unforgiving of the errant shot off fairway in which event, if you find it, you won’t have a shot. It must be at the very top of Portuguese courses. Currently there is very little housing development but this is planned and it is to be hoped that it will not detract from the current wonderful ambience.
A sneeky November trip to the Silver Coast, what's not to like!
I've just completed a second round on this Cynthia Dye masterpiece. The setting, scale and quality of this venue will just take your breath away as readily as the backdrop of the icy Atlantic Ocean which rolls onto the pristine beach below you.
West Cliffs is best described as a course beside the sea as opposed to a pure links layout, however, this does not detract from the visual splendour as you plunge and rise through pine forests, native scrubland and sand hills.
The course is best played from the fairways :), which are generous albeit requiring carries of circa 200 yards plus from the 59 (white) tees.
It is very difficult to pick out a favourite hole, the Redan style green on the 5th is a joy to behold, followed by the the back to back par 5s (6th and 7th) and the par 3 16th were upon reflection my favourite holes.
A word of advice, if you are playing as a twoball as we were, it is better to play play early morning as you are probably looking at a 5 hour plus round if you venture out on the course later in the day.
Bring spare balls and a willingness to walk as the holes are predominantly separated from one another. Buggies and motorised caddy cars are available for the less intrepid!
I've played Monte Rei which is ranked higher in many lists, Monte Rei is very good, West Cliffs is truly great. Check out this masterpiece before the word gets out
My experience of West Cliffs was a rather unfortunate one, the day we played, visibility was less than 200yds, and the second day we were due to play the round was cancelled due to the fog that has come in off the sea.
However, this course is an absolute belter, truly incredible. I’ve played most of the best courses in England now and a number of the best around the algarve, and this place is as good if not better than all of them.
Every hole has been designed cleverly and tests even the most established golfer. The greens are large, but if you miss them, you are in for a tough experience.
The par 3s are clever with a real mixture of difficulty, I found the 2nd a little underwhelming, but all of the others, especially 16 were brilliant.
If considering a trip to Portugal, you will do well to beat the trio of West Cliffs, Praia del rey and Royal Obidos. However, be aware there is little to no night life around this area and unless you’re staying in the hotel very little to do.
Had the pleasure of playing West Cliffs three times in the course of a week, and the more I played it the more enjoyable it became. As other reviewers have said, the setting on the Atlantic cliffs is stunning, in parts reminiscent of New South Wales GC in Sydney, Australia.
From the promotional photos you would perhaps think you are in for the full links experience, but this is not the case. Quite apart from there being lakes on 3, 9 and 18, there are very few holes that offer a ground route to the putting surface. Greens are large and accommodating, so the aerial route is all that is needed. The approaches were generally a bit soft and shaggy, meaning a shot landing short of the green was unilkely to hop forward and roll on to the green as you would find on a traditional links. Similarly there was not a lot of run to be had on most fairways with the ball tending to get 'stuck' on sidehill and downhill lies, which would normally run through and feed into depressions on a firm links course. This is not a criticism of the course in the slightest, it is exceptional, just don't come expecting to play links golf.
Tee shots are memorable on many holes, with visually daunting carries over scrub - choose the correct tees for your game. However the landing areas are more generous than they appear, probably due to the small amounts of playable rough to the sides - miss the edge of the fairway by more than 10 yards and your ball would generally be lost in the scrub.
Blasting away with driver usually carries a lot of risk and it is perhaps wiser to play shorter off the tee and leave a slightly longer approach in order to avoid the deadly rough.
The view from the 8th tee, played from atop a dune into the prevailing wind with a long carry over wasteland, and the green perched on the cliffs over the ocean, is particularly attractive. The 10th is also a very pretty hole, either standing on the tee or sitting on the clubhouse terrace, beer in hand.
The fairways were in excellent condition, albeit softer than anticipated as previously mentioned. The upside being no heartbreaking sideways bounces into the rough or runouts into bunkers, each shot got exactly what it deserved.
Most greens were large and undulating with ridges and depressions to be crossed for putts of more than 5-10m. Longer putts usually broke in more than one direction - fail to read the first break correctly and you can find yourself a long way from the hole.
For me the highlights were the par-3 5th & 16th and par-4 8th and 17th. I found the par-5 7th somewhat annoying, forcing a long shot from an uneven fairway over a scrub bunker that in was in some parts raked sand, in others penal scrub, without offering an alternate route to green.
Overall a fanastic challenge in a spectacular setting. Highly recommended.
Having played its neighbours on our last trip we were really looking forward to having a first taste of West Cliffs.
Managed to get there in August and enjoyed every second.
Firstly, great warm up practice area, you are unlikely to ever have views like this on a range anywhere!
It was very quiet the day we played so no pressure on the first tee. I decided to play from the third of five tee boxes. That’s 5,565 metres (or 6,100 yds). More on this later.
After 2 gentle enough holes to start, the par 4 third is a tough index 1 requiring two very precise shots to get on this green.
It’s only as you make your way around to the 4th tee box that you start to see what West Cliffs is all about. This par 4 is the start of a spectacular stretch that looks really amazing. You actually have more room than you think off the tee which is the same on a lot of holes.
The par 3 5th hole is a beauty and needs to be played to be understood – again, the bunkers seem to be dominating the green but there’s more space when you get down there.
A nice par 5 uphill (6th) is followed by another beautiful par 5 down the hill. My long straight drive down the hill found the sand which you can’t see from the tee. Personally, I don’t like par 5’s that punish your best drive, if you lay up you have no chance of reaching the green in two. That’s my only real gripe.
On to the back 9 , another great driving hole at the 10th, amazing views of the ocean.
The 13th is a strong par 5 back up hill with a very tricky green.
Amazing sea views again from the 14th. Like many holes here the tee shot is intimidating as there is a substantial carry over scrub / gorse to reach the fairway – it’s a strong feature of the course.
I was comfortably at the back of the 15th green in two but you realise then that the hole is 100 yds longer from the back tee.
Make sure you climb up to have a look at the par 3 16th from the back tee box. This is one of the most intimidating par 3’s I’ve played, albeit a lot easier from forward tees.
The 17th is a very interesting par 4 and you need to get a good drive away here to even see the green. My drive was good but still left a 6 iron to a narrow green – tough.
And finally the 18th! Fantastic par 4. From the elevated tee you can barely see the fairway and the green is distant with a lake to cross also. A long straight one still left me a 7 iron from a hanging lie which I couldn’t keep dry. A great finishing hole to a superb course.
I can sometimes play to my 9 handicap but I would only be tempted to play from the next tee box back ( 6,520 yds) if conditions were calm and I was really on my game. My advice is to play it forward and enjoy. We also took buggies and were glad of them, there are some climbs and walks.
The fairways are more generous than you first think. That said there is not much rough bordering them before you are into ‘jungle’. If you are spraying it off the tee it will be a difficult day.
I have played all the top Irish links courses and this rates up there with them even though it is very different . The design is superb and the maintenance is excellent. Nice restaurant in the big, modern clubhouse.
Our group rated West Cliffs slightly ahead of Royal Obidos. Both are better courses than Praia d’El Rey in our opinion. Having 3 courses like this right beside each other makes this a brilliant destination for a short golf trip.
All in all, West Cliffs is one of the best I have played and is likely to be one of the most memorable you will play.
High expectations were set after reading all the reviews and high accolades the course has received. We played it on a very nice day, just some wind which was enough to have some of the holes play longer than rated. All the horror scenarios on "bring enough balls" or "this course is not forgiving" are missing and not true in my mind. Yes, I've lost 6 balls. Simply since I made some really bad shots, that's all. When playing this course, course management is key, having strategy in place before swinging a club. Know where you want to go and be humble and the course will reward you. The fairways are generous in most cases, have no fear to have no chance to hit it. From the tee box of hole # 14 the view is just spectacular and probably one of the best you'll ever have overlooking multiple holes with the sea in the background and a colorful vegetation all around. I've expected a little more than I found but this was due to our humans nature. We hear and read many positive things, only the best and with each one the expectations get higher. No doubt, one of the best courses I've played so far and if it belongs amongst the Top100 in Europe doesn't really matter. That's subjective anyway but it certainly is one I recommend not to miss.
No need to bring extras golf balls, as when you go looking for yours - which you will, you'll find plenty of others. Staff of all departments was great. We spent so much time taking pictures during our round we had to pay it again the next day just to take in the course.
I regret to say that I discourage this field. I do not think I'll ever play again. I am Handicap 13 and I had a very bad time despite having little wind and making a splendid day. Very complicated holes. If you leave the fairway, there is almost no rough. Everything is sand or tall grass. From the tee, in my group we lost about 10 balls that we never found. The views are not spectacular either.You simply see the sea.
Very good club house. The staff very nice and the price is reasonable.
I don't get your point! What else do you expect to see when playing a side links other than the sea?
It's a really nice and challenging yet fair golf course. The course needs to be played strategically, it's not a hit and hope course. It's one which requires all attention, a smart club selection and respect from the player. Leaving the fairway is tough but the fairways are generous in most cases. I also lost 6 balls, played quite good on the 1st 9 and pretty horribly on the second 9. It still was a treat simply based on the fact of it's location and the wonderful views.
I think the comment "The views are not spectacular either. You simply see the sea." sums up that this reviewer has no idea what he is talking about. I am sure most people would rather play a 'complicated' course instead of a course with motorway straight fairways back and forth.
An experience that may haunt my daydreams for a long time. This is a course for golfers, not holiday makers like some of the top Algarve courses cater to.
Played at a 4pm tee time in early May. Atlantic mist hung over the course, and the winding rural drive from the walled town of Obidos primed an atypical experience.
The staff weren't quite as warm as other courses here, although were down-to-earth and respectful. Perhaps it's a more professional show because it's implied that turning up to play a course of such magnanimous quality, and for just 78 euros, is already a win.
Hole 1 and 2 are warm ups as suggested by other reviewers, with hole 2 probably the only uninspired one on the course, a filler on the land between 1 and 3. It's not a bad hole, but West Cliffs has 17 holes that you'd want to play anywhere.
The first of three artificial lakes presents on hole 3, with others on 9 and 18. As has been noted below, they're probably unnecessary and while not detracting from the course, will add to the time that it will need before sand moved by their construction is indistinguishable from the native environment. Immaturity is only noticeable around the lakes, however, with the rest of the course fitting in effortlessly.
These are minor issues and are noted because there's nothing else negative to say.
The design is natural to a natural piece of land, that isn't dramatic, but doesn't need to be. The location next to the Atlantic, unique native flora all over the course, respect for the environment and the high quality and condition of the grasses and bunkers do the work.
Errant tee shots will be lost in the low-lying density that the fairways have been carved into, as will any wayward approach shot. The course is unforgiving: you're not sheepishly hitting a recovery from a few trees scattered in the rough, or even out of the woods... the ball is gone.
Tee shots are daunting and are the course's highlight, as one breathtaking hole after another lies before you. The course crescendos, both physically and mentally, with the par 3 16th and par 4 17th, that punish anything lazy or unskilled. The 16th from the back tee is as intimidating as any golf shot you'll find. The green is only visible from the tee.
Some highlights are the par 4 3rd, with water and a solid row of bunkers protecting the side of the fairway that avoids a blind 2nd shot; par 5 7th, that seems simple until you need to clear the waste on your second shot and hit a perfect 3rd into a tight green; par 4 10th that plays toward the sea and again requires a tee shot over elevated waste; par 4 11th that requires a delicate 2nd shot, again blind if you're too far left on the fairway; par 4 14th with its mid-fairway scrub, where environmental protection prevents retrieval of balls; and 15 through 17, which when combined with the 18th's lakeside approach, will make for heart-stopping tournament viewing. For the amateur, they seem to be the course's ultimate tests, and ironically they're the only holes that aren't pretty as the woodland has been kept around them as they cut across the course's only hill.
The par 5s 6 and 7 typify the place and are the holes that stick in the mind, each 500 odd metres through the native scrub, tempting with nothing more than visible greens, narrow emerald fairways, and brutal sand scrub.
The greens weren't particularly fast, but are reasonably tough, varied, deceptively undulating and fair. No false fronts or artificial tiering. There's no rest around them, with each chip a new experience.
Colours, contours, elevations, variety, constant challenges, strategic cross-fairway tee shots and obvious reverence for the location lift this place into the world class. The metronomic, ever-present waste and scrub present tension and theatre where other courses might provide breathing room.
West Cliffs is in another realm compared to other Portugese courses played on this trip. The the exquisite links, Estela, north of Porto, lacks the sheer brutality and gobsmacking challenge here, while the Algarve courses seem like child's play in comparison. My trip didn't include Monte Rei in the inland Eastern Algarve which polls higher, but I can't imagine how it could come close.
I grew up playing Melbourne's sandbelt courses, including Royal Melbourne among far less famous tracks, and would play West Cliffs again, and again, instead. Remove the history and exclusivity of the world's revered courses, and West Cliffs may be some of the best time you'll spend playing golf.