This blog is based on a visit to Praia D’El Rey and West Cliffs when Leadingcourses was invited by PR agency Azalea in June 2019. We were there to experience the recently refurbished Praia D’El Rey Marriot Hotel. We also had time to play the Praia del Rei Golf Course and the recently opened West Cliffs Golf Course.
Play on the day you arrive
On my way to Praia D’El Rey and West Cliffs I landed on the modern airport of Lisbon. The luggage came relatively quick and soon I found the driver in the busy arrivals terminal. Clouds and sun alternated and the black Mercedes van took us directly to the Praia D’El Rey golf course. We had a quick lunch and got into the buggies that were waiting for us. When checking my rental set I had to remove the plastic of all my woods (so new clubs!). I Also noticed that the PING irons and the golf bag were never used before either, so I was off for a great start!
Due to some travel delays of our group we had to start on hole 10 instead of hole 1. I had a bit of a double feeling about this, because the 10th is actually a nicer starting hole than the first. But in my opinion the best holes are on the back nine and normally I’d rather ‘save’ the best for last. For this blog I will describe the holes in the normal order.
Praia D’El Rey; the Course
Hole 1 starts of a couple of relatively narrow tee-boxes and is a dog-leg left. The logistics around the clubhouse, driving range and first tee are a bit confusing. You have to cross a street where cars drive and the sidewalks are quite narrow for buggies. The 2nd hole is a short par-5 but not very easy. It gets really narrow in the green area so a long 2nd shot in has to be precise. The 3rd is a short par-3 that requires good distance control. The 7th hole is a nice par-5 with plenty of bunkers and an undulated fairway. Hole 8 is a beautiful short par-3 over a little lake.
The back nine starts left of the terrace and is a par-5 downhill with a lake on the right-side, half in front of the green. It has a pretty wide fairway so an okay hole to start with. The 11th is an uphill par-3 that will be hard to reach for most recreational golfers. Especially if the tee marker is on the back. But it’s a nice challenge. The tee box at 12 is a bit squeezed between the fence and the hill on the left. But it has a beautiful view at the green. The 14th is probably the most photographed par-3 on the course. With a view of the Atlantic Ocean and an old stone house on the left. Hole 15 is a par-4 along the coast with great views of the ocean.
After the round a hotel shuttle took us to the Praia D’El Rey Marriot. The check-in went smooth and I got a room with a sea view. The hotel has been totally refurbished recently and the room was excellent. Great beds and bathroom; all the amenities I could wish for and a nice terrace to watch the sunset. Unfortunately we did not have time to check out the spa facilities, but we heard that they were great. We had dinner at the hotel buffet that night and it was all very nice. Lots of fresh produce, local fish and plenty of dishes to choose from. Very friendly staff and the house wines were great.
On day two we had breakfast in the hotel again, very well organized and delicious. A small detail I liked and you don’t see so often in hotels: on the way out they had the possibility to tap a ‘coffee-to-go’ in take away cups with covers. Great for golfers rushing to their tee-time as we always do…The shuttle to West Cliffs from the Praia D’El Rey Marriot takes a little over 10 minutes. On the way there you pass Royal Obidos, which is another great golf course in the area that can be booked through Praia del Rei (or our site). The hotel shuttle takes you there as well with no extra costs.
West Cliffs; the Course
Arriving at the golf course at West Cliffs you are immediately impressed by the beautiful clubhouse. It is very functional but really beautiful at the same time. The views from the clubhouse on the 10th hole, putting green and driving range and the ocean are breathtaking. The pro-shop is immediately on the left with plenty souvenirs and apparel to choose from. The high ceiling combined with wood gives everything a very cozy feeling.
The West Cliffs golf course – designed by Cynthia Dye – is really amazing. Just one of those few courses that is incomparable with other courses. The first hole might look a bit scruffy due to the construction in the horizon, but at hole 2 – a testing par-3 with a wicket green – the course really kicks in.
The third is a par-4 with water on the entire right side and into the wind both times I played it. Number 4 is a testing par-3 where the green is so undulated that you really need good distance control to stay on the green. Holes 6 and 7 are two par-5’s side by side, one out and the other in. no. 6
usually plays with the wind and hole 7 into the wind, which can make it a tough nut to crack.
On 7, at around 300 meters, there is a huge waste area over the entire width of the fairway at the bottom of a downhill stretch. That didn’t feel fair to me because when you hit a great drive carrying the ridge your ball will end up here. But maybe if you can hit such a drive you should move back a tee box. Talking about that, on this course you should really be on the right tee box. On many holes at West Cliffs you need quite some carry to reach the fairway and the rough is very punishing. If you look for your ball you’ll probably find several others, except your own. Hitting out of the rough is almost impossible.
But then again, the course and its surroundings are so beautiful that you will gladly loose a couple of balls. Hole 9 is another gem where you are tempted to cross the water as far left as possible to shorten your approach.
The back nine at West Cliffs
Walking to the tee of hole 10 again you are bombarded with the visual scenery that makes this course so special. Your tee shot is aimed straight in the direction of the ocean (and often the wind). The green lush fairways are surrounded by the rough.
Hole 11 is a par-4 with great views of the sea. The next hole no. 12 is a par-3 that is probably the easiest of the par-3’s on this course. Hole 13 and 14 are a par-5 and -4 lying next to each other, 13 going uphill and 14 playing down. I just couldn’t get enough of the views at West Cliffs. Especially from the tee of hole 14. Just before the green of hole 14 there is a big waste area mount that blocks the green. Some people in our group loved it, but I’m not so fond of it. I like the idea to block the green but maybe I would cover it with grass, it seemed a bit artificial this way.
Hole 15 is a short par-5, fairway going left to right and slightly uphill. Depending on the position of the pin and the wind this can definitively be an eagle opportunity. I hit 3 wood, hybrid and holed the 20-foot putt for eagle! Will definitely not forget this hole. Hole 16 is an incredibly tough par-3 especially from the back tee. The green is so tiny from back there and you have about the size of a bath towel where you can land the ball.
Hole 17 is a sharp dog-leg right were you need some length and a gutsy drive to shorten your approach. Hole 18 has a beautiful view from the tee. Water on the right and a semi blind shot down, great finish!
The 19th at West Cliffs
In the clubhouse we had lunch and they prepared excellent meat, lamb chops, beef, pig. Everything perfectly grilled. So if you go here definitely reserve some time for lunch or dinner.
Staying at the Praia D’El Rey Marriot and the possibility to play the golf courses of Praia D’El Rey, West Cliffs and Royal Obidos is just amazing. The resort is just an hour away from Lisbon Airport and even in that area there are more highly rated courses. The Portuguese hospitality, great food and excellent rooms are a joy to experience. The scenery is amazing with beautiful cliffs and beaches. The historical town Obidos is a great place to visit, so non-golfing partners will also have a great time.