Whats been described as one of the worlds most innovative architectural golf projects officially opens this month.
A Donald Steel course reputed to be his swansong – is the centerpiece of a huge development, Bom Sucesso, near the medieval town of Obidos, on Portugals Silver Coast and which may well be serious rival to the Algarve.
Steel is the only golf course architect to have advised all the clubs or courses on which the Open Championship has been played and is the only architect for 70 years to have given significant advice to the recognised home of golf, St Andrews.
He also has a particular fondness for Portugal Bom Sucesso is the fifth course he has designed there.
I first visited Portugal in 1965 and there were only two or three courses in the whole country, located on The Algarve, he said. The last few decades have witnessed a huge expansion in golf throughout Portugal not just in the Algarve but also north of Lisbon on the Silver Coast, where Bom Sucesso is located. This is definitely an up-and-coming golfing region with many new golf courses being built.
Steel was personally involved in designing the golf course and discussions began on the project eight years ago and he added: Bom Sucesso is built on a really varied piece of land. You dont want a golf course to be dead flat or too mountainous. Bom Sucesso has slopes but they are never too steep to be severe. There are fantastic long-distance views from the course and the setting and natural location contributes enormously to the beauty of a golf course and this is something the architect has no influence over!
Steel doesnt like the term signature hole and he said: At Bom Sucesso, we have created 18 very strong holes all good even when taken on an individual basis, I dont feel any of them are weak. They all contribute to the overall appeal of the golf course. It is up to the individual player to be the final judge.
However, those who play the course are bound to be impressed by the spectacular finish 16, 17 and 18 are superb. Sixteen may not look much but the 300 metre par four is played uphill with the green set into a hill-side, with banking around the left and rear.
The drive at 17, a 530 metre dogleg par five is simply spectacular. Standing on the tee reveals the whole vista of the surrounding area, the lagoon of Obidos and the distant mountains to the east, the resort to the north and the sea to the west and an out of bounds forest to the south.
The tee shot is fearsome, but find the firway and you have a chance to carry the corner of the dogleg with your second leaving a wedge to the green.
The drive at 18 is also downhill and big hitters will have to be wary of the stream that cuts the fairway and there is also more water in front of the green. A great finish.
The course is not just about the finish though, with the par five second, a dogleg with a lake and a narrow approach and the par three fifth, both also memorable.
The par 72 course measures 6,234 metres and stretches along the length of the resort shaping the housing centres, the hotel and spa and the other leisure facilities. The first nine holes are played on a level while the second nine are on rolling terrain and are quite spectacular a buggy is recommended and the cart paths are of an unusually high quality.
The greens have interesting and challenging undulation without being too severe and the bunkering is quite severe with steep faces.
Green fees are reasonably priced at 90 euros on weekends and 74 euros midweek. Neither is it a course in isolation and Bom Sucesso have been pro-active in signing a number of reciprocal agreements with other golf clubs including the nearby Praia del Rey, a very fine course in its own right.
The likes of Oitvos, Aroera, Ribagolfe, Lisbon Sports Club, Estoril, Penha Longa, Golden Eagle, Vimeiro, Botado, Royal Obidos, Campo Real, Quinta da Marinha, Belas and Troia are all within easy reach as Obidos and Bom Sucesso are only an hour from Lisbon and there is the feeling and desire that Bom Sucesso may provide the spark for the region to really rival the Algarve as a golfing destination.
The golf course is the centerpiece of a development that will also have 1,079 uniquely designed properties and five star hotel and spa, plus all the other amenities youd expect from such a development.
The proximity of the sea and Obidos lagoon and the course itself affords the houses a villas fantastic views, but this is no ordinary development as the villas and townhouses have been designed by some of the worlds best contemporary architects, including Alvaro Siza Vieira, Souto Moura, the UKs Stirling prize winner David Chipperfield, Josep Llinas and Aires Mateus.
The villas are also no more than one or two storeys, most of them with grassed roofs which help them blend into the natural scenery.
Its said to be the largest modern architecture project ever undertaken in Europe and it will also features a 120-room five-star hotel and spa with spectacular views across the valley and the course.
The resort will have varied options – to buy or rent – and from next year it will be possible to enjoy a stay at Bom Sucesso in one of the specially designed townhouses, villas or apartments with the hotel option also coming on
The townhouses are sets of houses in a single lot, sharing a large garden area and swimming pool, with a maximum of two floors and villas are three, four and five bedrooms.
Staying on the complex allows access to all facilities of the resort, inlcuding golf, tennis, going to the beach or even to explore the Silver Coast and town of Obidos.
Address: Golfe do Bom Sucesso, Bom Sucesso, Vau Obidos, 2510-663 Vau Obidos.
Telephone: + 351 262 968 562; + 351 262 968 805, +351 262 969 470.