One of the more highly regarded facility’s in southern Portugal, the Monte Rei Country Club is located on the Eastern Algarve and set within an elevated woodland a few kilometres inland of the Atlantic Ocean. The Jack Nicklaus–designed North Course opened in 2007, and plans have existed for several years now to add a second Nicklaus Course within the estate. At present, there is some sparse housing scattered across the property, but that would likely expand if the second course were ever constructed.
In many ways Monte Rei is very much an archetypal Jack Nicklaus golf course, with greens, bunkers and even individual holes that many Nicklaus Design golfers will be familiar with. The course has proven popular with visitors primarily because of its secluded location, and the fact that it offers a pleasant golf experience in an unusually quiet, unspoilt environment. The turf conditions are also superior, and there are plenty of heroic water holes, thrilling downhill shots and bold bunkering across the layout. The routing is a little difficult in places, but those playing in carts are well catered for.
Among our favourite holes were two photogenic par threes, the 9th and the 14th. The 9th features a green that is benched into a hill and protected by some very artistic bunkering, while the 14th plays dramatically across the corner of a lake. The previous par four 13th is also notable for the downhill nature of the first two shots and the large, natural body of water that abuts the rear of its green. Concluding the best stretch on the course, the 15th is a solid mid-length par four that slowly climbs and follows a lake from the tee all the way to the low-set green site.
Less effective are the holes either side of this fun sequence. The 12th is an heroic horseshoe hole around water that long hitters can consider attacking from the tee, but for all else will be played in a fairly pedestrian layup/wedge manner. The par five 16th is also less than ideal for its abundance of internal bunkering and a creek that cuts the fairway from the tee and forces shorter hitters into a layup. The shorter par five closing hole, which curls around a lake as it nears the green, is a much more tempting, interesting test, and an appropriately fun finish to the round for all standard of golfer.
Although golfers who have played many Nicklaus Design courses may be somewhat less inspired by Monte Rei than others, this is a very decent golf course and an appealing place for visiting groups to either start or conclude their Algarve golf holiday.