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 first played West Cliffs 4 years ago but left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Fog caused visibility of less than 100yds and the second round was cancelled for the same reason.
I always felt like it needed a second chance.
It was well worth the wait.
Having played 2 rounds here a few days ago, I honestly feel that it’s pushes very hard for an entry into my top 5 golf courses ever played. Now at over 80 of the top 100 in England. Only Birkdale & Sunningdale old immediately come to mind as courses I’d rather play.
It demands everything - left to right tee shots (1,3,7,15,17), right to left tee shots (4,8,9,10,13,18). However, the landing zones are huge, so I don’t buy into the reviews that say it was too hard for them.
The greens are clever, with run offs in multiple places but also options for the green to gather your ball with the right shot.
Conditions was faultless too, hospitality (bears no
Part in my reviews of a golf course) brilliant.
Coupled with Praia just down the road and even Obidos, there can’t be many better trips in Europe.
My only reason for downgrading from a 6 is because im not a fan of buggy golf and there are some drives between tees.
All too often in my Opinion, people downgrade a golf course because they played bad or they think it’s too hard for them. This is definitely a course that suffers that fate.
A. Course Layout - 9/10 beautiful flowing
B. Greens - 9/10 (Bent Grass) very undulating
C. Fairway - 9/10 slightly long grass
D. Bunkers - 10/10 perfect sand
E. Course Condition - 8/10 Generally Good except for Poor Paths
Partly very spectacular golf holes. Very good condition. What is difficult about the golf course is, that the course does not forgive mistakes (statement of the starter: only 5% of the balls are found in the rough (trust him)). Many golfers choose the wrong tee box for their skills => impact on pace of play...in sum though absolutely worth playing the course, something special.
Just returned from a trip playing a number of courses near Lisbon, West Cliffs was the highest ranked of them all and it was excellent overall but BEWARE. I am a 9 handicap, in the group we had a wide range from scatch to 24. The higher handicappers simply hated it because it was far too difficult from the '55' tees (we should have listened to the starter). Front 9 is very tight and will need some good drives just to get to the fairway, the back 9 is stunning with the 10th & 18th as stand out holes. Club house very welcoming, food fantastic, well worth a visit.
West Cliffs is an outstanding golf course
I played it on the early morning of April 20, with the wind blowing at more than 50km per hour, which made it an almost impossible challenge. Nevertheless, the great design of the holes and the great views of the ocean made it an unforgettable experience anyway (without looking at the score!). The course is wonderfully maintained and the even if the ocean does not come into play you can see it from every hole (and some holes have an incredible view). If you add that the nature around the courses is gorgeous and that the green fee is very reasonable at €85, it definitely worth the drive from Lisbon (approx. 1 hour and ½).
This is a really interesting course, managed to play 45 holes here over 2 days in March, partially in 35mph winds.
From Tee to Green, definitely one of the funner course I have played (even though it was hard and made me want to cry at one point, but this was more operator error than the course).
The variety of tee shots, the striking views and the framing of the fairways makes this very playable but also very worth your time.
The Green complexes also add to a fulfilling experience, with approaches to tiered well protected greens playing prominently but also fairly.
I can't think of any tee boxes we stood on and weren't in awe of the views (coastal and inland), bright colours amongst the flora and mature trees. I have seen reviews were it's pointed out that it was too easy losing balls into the rough, and I agree, however, there is more than enough fairway and first cut allowed to you before the rough comes into play. Only hole 13 you could be punished for a good tee shot that could run punishing rough on the left side.
My one gripe, was the greens themselves. In good condition and quick, we found they seldom read true and the punishments for missing were very severe. You could have a good ball striking round, but really have your day ruined by how the greens played. Maybe it was just the pins we had during our round.
All in all course I would highly recommend to most golfers, the general aesthetic reminded me of some of the UK's more historic heathland courses but with some added grandeur with the coast in view and various elevations. It is easy to walk the course, the slowest round we played was with buggies, walking is perfectly fine, there are some longish walks between some holes but nothing overly obtuse.
There are many holes to enjoy, the back 9 had my preference, and there are some strong par 5s on holes 6 & 7.
I was fortunate enough to play here this week. First the good: jaw-droppingly beautiful at every turn, and definitely designed to require real thought on every shot. 5 or 6 world-class holes at least, perhaps more. The eighteenth will live long in my memory. I have played in many places, and it is a rare mixture of a superb, and also achingly beautiful hole.
A big but though for me: I just do not think on the fairway or lost ball on every hole is golf. And that is what exists on every single hole here. I cannot begin to imagine how anyone of say 15 handicap would ever get fun out of playing here. There are also two or three greens that are completely overdone (the short par four with mogul dead centre of the green being the worst offender, but not the only one.)
Contrary to much of what is said on here: it is walkable, but you had better be fit, and I found the service perfectly fine, if unobtrusive. The conditioning was uniformly excellent.
All in all: hard to rate fairly. 4 and half now, but a rough clearance programme and a few green designs softened, and it would be WORLD class. With that, 5 and half easily.
Played 3 rounds in a variety of conditions. Buggies essential IMO. Went as a group of 12 and everyone with a hcp over 18 hated the experience. In wind this is truly impossible and v difficult even with no wind. The greens are so difficult for a club golfer. The short par three's look straightforward until you either get to the green or you put it on the green and it runs over the back. It has a layout like monte rei but sadly does not come close in either the playability or the experience. Buggies back by 5pm and not great customer service. V slow esp if you have players without buggies in front of you. Was built in 2017 and the course would appear to be well embedded but the customer service and experience needs to improve to allow this course to live up to its high rating. If I came back I would play royal obidos before playing either West Cliffs or Praia del ray both in terms of course and experience. Maybe as a handicap of 6 I was simply not good enough to play this course.
Played here for the second time today, 5th Oct 2021. No buggies available, its a long course, with long distances between holes so you need a buggy or pretty fit. The course is good, though general maintenance was lacking, bunkers un raked greens slow, with many unrepaired pitch marks. Our first 9 holes took 9 hours and not a marshall in site. Half way we complained only for the marshall to blame weather, people anything but their ability to push people along. Bar staff took 20 min to take our order for coffee. After taking 5.5hrs to play we decided to consol ourselves with a beer. The one thing that had kept us going through out. Yes, you guessed it the bar closes at 6 p.m. can you comprehend it?? Yes we rate golf courses but golf is part of the experience. Slow round, no buggies, poor service, course design great, course condition poor, 5 and half hour round and staff who don't care. This course does not deserve a 2nd besy course Portugal rating. Indeed it is below poor in everything but design.
This is not a golf course review it’s a whinge about service and does not deserve to be published. 9 hours to play nine holes is a typo?
We were very much looking forward to playing West Cliffs given its high ranking and other positive reviews. Unfortunately for our group it didn’t live up to the billing. Our main criticism is that the course just wasn’t that much fun. As others have mentioned it is very challenging. Most fairways are not narrow but if you miss them it’s a lost ball every time.
It is worth noting that our group of 6 included a decent spectrum of golfers with respectable handicaps (0,3,4,7,10,17). It also wasn’t the case that we played particularly badly. I suspect that the course would be especially challenging for higher handicap golfers.
The other thing we didn’t like were the long walks between greens and tees. This contributed to a long and tiring round. For those who like playing in buggies and don’t mind 4.5 hour plus rounds this wouldn’t be an issue but not for those looking to walk and get round in less than 4 hours.
The conditioning of the course was patchy and the greens were somewhat inconsistent and not nearly as good as Praia d’el Rei’s. We played the course on an overcast and occasionally misty day so did not get the best out of any views. From previous reviews (and the name of the course) we thought that some of the holes might be along the cliffs with spectacular views but that was not the case. It was welcome to see heather sprinkled through the rough adding colour to the course.
On the plus side there were some really interesting (albeit challenging) holes. 17 and 18 in particular presented a great finish where you needed to hit very good shots to score well.
Overall a disappointing experience. The trend in recent years has been for newer courses to be playable and fun with the challenge on the second shot, e.g. Castle Stuart, Kingsbarns, Dumbarnie. It would make a marked difference if West Cliffs could soften the course and do similar.