I had read all the reviews and couldn’t wait to play this highly regarded new golf course and in the two key areas expectation met up with reality. The layout and challenging nature of the course across ideal seaside and wooded terrain was outstanding, and the views out to sea and beauty of the on-course nature surrounds are probably as stunning as I have ever witnessed on a golf course. Most of the holes reflect the very best of modern design with the back-to-back par 5s on the front nine and the par 4 18th from a raised tee leaving unforgettable memories.
The golf course has been in existence for little more than 2 years and already suffers from heavy course traffic which means that it’s condition is good but not yet top class. It is pleasing to see a relatively modest green fee for such a prestigious new course, plus the opportunity for nearby Praia del Rey members to include it in their membership package, but it does mean that the course will take time to reach a perfect level of upkeep.
I do have a few minor gripes which prevent me giving West Cliffs the sort of rating which being No.2 in the Portuguese rankings (and only behind the clearly superior Monte Rei) I feel it should have, namely:
1. The par3s are all good holes, but not in any way memorable ones. From the ‘55 tees, which I suggest will be the most commonly used, they are all of similar length, and rather featureless.
2. The course is a long slog unless you are in a buggy, with many lengthy hikes between holes.
3. The greens, in my humble opinion, are over-designed with many undulations which make them extremely tricky for any but the best golfers. Fast greens are good but in places some of the slopes and run-offs are too severe, there is nothing wrong with flatter greens which reward good putting.
4. I fear that the wonderful ambience of the course is going to be destroyed by encroaching property development. Driving from the first tee to the cacophony of building noise on some adjacent developments was a shame, and seems to be a sign of a lot more to come.
I started by stating that this golfing land is very special and that the overall course design is clever and hugely challenging. I feel that if my concerns are properly addressed, or prove unfounded, in the coming years, please remember this is still a very young layout, then West Cliffs could become one of the best tracks in Europe.
Date: October 11, 2019