Pinheiros Altos – world class golf at Quinta do LagoBy Kerstin Buechner Dias • Dec 29th, 2009 • Category: Golf, Quinta Lifestyle
The Algarve has recently been twice voted “Established Golf Destination of the Year” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (in 2000 and 2006).
Golf course Pinheiros Altos
Pinheiros Altos, one of the best and most famous golf courses in mainland Europe´s undisputed capital of golf, just got a whole lot better. Thanks to demand, this wonderful, testing course has been increased from 18 to 27 holes.
The most recent nine were opened in January of 2007 and were designed by a collaboration of the course director, Brian Evans and leading Portuguese golf course architect, Jorge Santana da Silva.
For many properties in Quinta do Lago, ownership brings automatic golf course membership. This, in turn, brings many benefits of its own. For example, members of Pinheiros Altos are provided with pyramids of free balls on the driving range, discounts in the shop and restaurant and pre-reserved tee-times.
Kenny Fairbairn – golf professional at Pinheiros Altos
The golf professional at Pinheiros Altos, Kenny Fairbairn, explains part of the appeal:
“The Algarve is a wonderful place for someone ho loves golf, as there is a 12 month season. For many northern European golfers, the only chance of playing a comfortable round in January is if they fly to the Algarve for a golfing holiday.”
Kenny is, without a doubt, “someone who loves golf”. The Scottish PGA pro has made the Algarve his home and spends the majority of his working life at Pinheiros Altos. He’s a lucky man. Pinheiros Altos is a world class course, originally designed by the famous American designer Ronald Fream, in 1992. It hosts the annual European Seniors Tour First Pre-qualifying every November.
The holes at Pinheiros Altos
Each nine-hole course is named after one of the local types of trees found in the area: olives, pines and corks. And each presents the golfer with different types of challenges. Olives tends to be pretty flat, punctuated by an abundance of water. Pines and Corks are both more undulating with large, fast greens and a good number of trees and water hazards.
When pushed for a favourite hole, Kenny sighs; it’s evident that he prefers to be challenge in different ways by his golf and he is reluctant to be pinned down to a single hole. Passion for Property insists, and with his mind on the hole, he can barely control a grin as he confides that he adores Hole 8 on the new nine, Corks.
“It begins with a difficult tee shot, big dog leg left, then right”, he says. “It is a par 5 uphill and takes a good three shots to reach the green. Head too far right or left and you are immediately out-of-bounds, in the trees. You have to take care. You can’t just blast it without any thoughtful placement, but have to play intelligent golf and work the hole out before you play it.” Hooked by his enthusiasm, we ask for more. He doesn’t take too much prompting and launches into Hole 8, Olives.”This is a psychologically difficult hole”, Kenny asserts. “You are coming towards the end of the round and the 8th green greets you from its island position, completely surrounded by water. That’s pretty scary. It’s as much about getting your mindset right as it is about choosing the right club and controlling your swing on this one. We find a lot of balls in the water. A few golf clubs too, so I guess it has claimed a few victims in its lifetime.
“Pines has a new 4th hole”, Kenny continues. That’s an interesting one as it is a short par 5 and gives the slightly higher handicap players the chance to be macho and go for the green in two shots; something not normally possible on a par 5″. Kenny pauses to laugh. “Though, with a large lake in front of the green, this of course can be your undoing if you try too hard”.
A lot more fantastic golf courses in Quinta do Lago
Pinheiros Altos is not the only fantastic golf course in Quinta do Lago.
San Lorenzo is a beautiful course, located close to the nature reserve’s salt flats. “I’s not long, but trick”, explains Kenny. “The front line is very pretty, but if you don’t drive well, you can get through quite a few balls”.
Quinta do Lago South
Quinta do Lago South has hosted the Portuguese Open on the European Tour.”It has a very nice championship layout”, affirms Kenny. “It has generous fairways and big greens and offes a really enjoyable, but testing, game.
Quinta do Lago North
“Quinta do Lago North is slightly trickier than South. Its fairways are tighter with undulations and it has a few more dog legs, though it is also a very beautiful course to play,” he adds.
“I know I’m getting better at golf because I’m hitting fewer spectators.” Gerald Ford