Designed by Robert Trent Jones and Cabell B. Robinson, Portugal’s Troia golf course is an extremely demanding and exposed layout built over spotless sand dunes on the narrow Troia Peninsula, less than an hour south of Lisbon. Within sight of the sea and sandwiched between the Peninsula’s main arterial road and the ocean, the rolling fairways here are cut through pine trees and guarded by some of the smallest greens in golf.
The short holes are especially memorable, the 4th, like the 11th, is a gorgeous shot into a minuscule target that will only accept a perfectly struck approach, while the 17th is a stunning hole with a tiny green set obliquely beyond a sandy waste and ringed by traps that frame and highlight its curves. Other standout areas include the tight twisting 3rd hole, an evil tiered and raised slither of green at the long par four 6th and the stretch of quality golf from the attractive 12th through to the 15th. Most of the fairways are narrow while further complicating play is the large scale bunkering, which occasionally blocks all access to the putting surfaces demanding golfers take the more dangerous aerial route into the greens.
Given the general standard of seaside golf in Europe, Troia is a rare find and much better than the ordinary layouts along the Algarve. Unfortunately grooming and maintenance can be scrappy and the course is too tricked up to be genuine top shelf, but its diminutive targets framed by sprawling traps are an interesting take on the traditional links concept and there is enough fun throughout the round to please most visiting golfers.