Quinta do Lago - South Course

Portugal, The Algarve
5.3 (4)
Designer: William Mitchell
Course Opened: 1974

An icon of the Algarve, the Quinta do Lago resort and residential development was established in the 1970s close to the Faro International Airport in Portugal. Featuring three golf courses, hotels, restaurants, a high-end housing estate and range of elite sporting facilities, Quinta do Lago covers an area of around 2,000 acres, adjacent the Ria Formosa coastal nature park.

Golf was part of the resort’s founding in 1974, with the opening of 27 holes by designer William Mitchell. His original 18 hole design of the South Course remains largely intact all these years later, while the 9 holes incorporated into what became the North Course were redesigned, at considerable expense, by Beau Welling and Tour Professional Paul McGinley in 2014. The third course at Quinta do Lago, named Laranjal, opened in 2009 on the site of a nearby orange grove.

Owing to its reputation as a former host venue on the European Tour, the South Course at Quinta do Lago is one of the better-known, and more popular, layouts on the Algarve. Carved through a forest of umbrella pines, the course is largely as originally designed by William Mitchell, albeit with faster putting surfaces. The greens have always been the most fearsome hazard here, the targets generally leaning back-to-front and with steep tilts and subtle false fronts favored in place of sharp tiers or ridges. The greens do tend to be a little repetitive at times, but are nicely done and force approaching golfers to choose whether to play safely past the pin or risk coming up short and running off the front of the green.

As with a course like Vilamoura Old, the South at Quinta do Lago is preferred to many of the newer layouts in the region because of its attractive, pine-line fairways and gentle golf undulations. There is more room off the tee here than at other courses in the area, and the old-fashioned green sites and simple fairway bunkering create a nice, effective strategic test for all standard of golfer. The back nine is particularly solid, starting with the strong, rolling par four 10th and the testing ridge top to ridge top par three 11th. The use of a large lake to hit over on the par three 15th and par four 16th is a memorable feature, along with the approach into the final green which works much more effectively than a tee shot that is brutally narrow for shorter hitters unable to carry a corner bunker.

Better holes on the front side include the downhill opening hole and partially blind par five 2nd. The left bending 9th is also an attractive closing par four that uses the natural landforms more effectively than the preceding 8th, which bends right and fights the terrain like some of the early holes at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Though the South Course is a distance behind the very finest classic golf courses on the European mainland, it’s clearly one of the best from the 1970s and the sort of layout that traditionalists looking for an old-school experience on the Algarve will appreciate. Laranjal and North may be newer and shinier, but the South is hard to beat when it comes to the golf available at Quinta do Lago.

Aside from its three golf courses, Quinta do Lago is also home to the Paul McGinley Golf Academy and Southern Europe’s only TaylorMade Performance Center. There are also excellent tennis, Padel, Cycling, Fitness and Watersport facilities at the resort as well as a brilliant multi-sports hub known as The Campus, which is especially popular with high-performance teams and individuals.


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