Work on the major renovation of Quinta do Lago’s North Course is progressing smoothly with the venue on target to reopen as planned in October – less than ten months after the redevelopment started.
Final shaping has now been completed and approved by renowned American golf architect Beau Welling, in collaboration with European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, with the new layout set to match the existing first-class golf facilities at the prestigious Algarve resort.
Among the changes taking place, all greens, tees, bunkers, irrigation and drainage systems and cart paths are being rebuilt using the latest state-of-the-art technology. Strategic planning has allowed for the redevelopment to continue during the inclement weather over winter and, with work to install the new irrigation and drainage systems being 40 per cent complete, the club expects to be laying turf and seeding later this month.
Welling, who has worked on more than 90 projects worldwide, said: “We have kept the routing of the North Course intact, reworking the golf experience within the existing corridors. New greens, tees, bunkers, and fairway shaping will make the golf course seem “familiar” yet totally new to golfers who have played it previously.
“Specifically, we have worked very hard to ensure that the course is playable for higher handicappers, while at the same time creating precise target areas for the better player looking to score. Golfers will face a wider variety of challenges and will require a greater range of shots – with the subtle greens, complex contouring and the introduction of closely mown chipping areas adding further to the new North Course experience.
“The introduction of a cool season grass type in the primary rough areas will also make the golf course appear very different visually with much greater definition and framing of holes.”
John Dwyer, chief executive of Quinta do Lago, said: “I think people will be blown away by the new North Course. It is going to be very different but very playable and a real challenge. It won’t be the longest or hardest course in the Algarve, but it will be one that members and visitors will want to play again and again.
“We have focused on building a course that will be the best presented in Europe once it opens.”
Welling gave an insight into the course management required by golfers looking to visit the new track in the autumn.
He said: “We have worked hard to really put a premium on finding the correct position off the tee. The fairways constrict where the longer hitter might be, yet are wider where higher handicappers will find themselves.
“Many longer hitters may decide not to take a driver off the tee as precision will be rewarded more than length in many instances. Shorter hitters will have more room off the tee but obviously face longer approach shots. Elevated greens and subtle roll-offs will require precise approach shots but containing chipping areas will create a high degree of playability for those missing the greens. As with all top tracks, smart players will really want to “think” their way around the course.”
Despite inclement weather in continental Europe this winter, work has not been adversely effected.
Welling added: “We have not had any major unforeseen problems, aided by a professional and planned approach by the Quinta do Lago team. A common occurence in golf course design, slight adjustments to the original plans have been made. We are a hands-on firm and believe strongly that golf courses should be “custom crafted” in the field, with this design being no different.
“One of our designers is working on-site alongside the club’s staff on a full-time basis to ensure that we maximise the design opportunities that exist on this exciting project. Specifically, we have fine tuned bunker placements and shapes, greens contouring and tee locations to ensure that the new North Course will present a golf experience that is strategic, yet playable and fun for all levels of golfer.”
Furthermore, a low-cut Bermuda grass approach will be introduced around greens to create a myriad recovery shot options for increased satisfaction on all levels of play. The aesthetics of the golf course will also significantly improve and the select planting of native grasses and specimen trees will help the environment.
The renovation will also allow Quinta do Lago to further reduce the impact on the environment by using recycled water and solar energy to maintain the course. The reduction of grassed areas will lessen the impact on the environment and the new design will include the creation of some new animal and plant habitats.
Since its inception, Quinta do Lago has been at the forefront of golf in the Algarve with three 18-hole championship courses – Quinta do Lago North and South courses and Laranjal – matched by outstanding practice facilities at the Paul McGinley Academy and the new TaylorMade Fitting Centre, which gives golfers the chance to enjoy the ultimate club-fitting experience by providing them with the tools and techniques used on the professional tours.
Quinta do Lago www.quintadolago.com