The South Course
The most well-known and popular of the three courses at Quinta do Lago, the South Course was designed by American William Mitchell and opened in 1974, quickly rising to be regarded as one of the foremost courses in Portugal. The South is a tried and tested layout that is always a delight to play. Its calibre has been showcased on the European Tour on numerous occasions, it has held the Portuguese Open no fewer than eight times and remains to this day one of Europe’s flagship courses.
The 7,108 yard par-72 course is set amongst umbrella pines, lakes and wild flowers, overlooking the spectacular scenery of the Ria Formosa National Park. The park’s beauty is reason enough to visit the area, and to play golf amongst it is a bonus. The South favours the long hitter but requires every golfer to pick a particular route to score well. Although both the front and back nine of the course are anti-clockwise loops, the first nine favours a draw, while the second favours a fade from the tee.
All the holes offer an enjoyable challenge, with well-placed bunkers and narrow fairways requiring from tee to green, but the introduction of water on the back nine really brings the journey back to the clubhouse to life. The par-three 15th hole is a cracker, it’s more than 180 yards from the middle tee box and water engulfs the hole from tee to green so anything remotely short will be wet. The common shot is to bail out to the right leaving an awkward up and down to save par.
The par-five 17th hole is another beauty, with the tee box positioned so your first shot hangs out over the nature reserve before you hopefully find a very tight fairway. Get this shot right as, with most holes around the South Course, platinum-grade architecture lines the fairway, meaning a stray drive to the right could be a costly one! A tricky second shot awaits, and bigger hitters will possibly be able to hit the green in two, but beware the putting surface is narrow and long with plenty of undulations so a five is never a sure thing here.
A short walk from the clubhouse, past the South Course first tee is the Paul McGinley Academy, home to some of Portugal’s finest young golfers. The superb practice facilities include a multi-tiered putting area, exquisitely-manicured driving range, a children’s practice range and the TaylorMade Performance Centre, where golfers can be fitted for new clubs or enjoy lessons with some of the best teaching pros Portugal has to offer.