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Leading Courses Ambassador trip #6: Lisbon

18 February 2022
18 min. read
Leading Courses
A group of Leading Courses Ambassadors went to Portugal to play golf in Lisbon and the surrounding area. They played 5 courses in 5 days and stayed at the Troia Design Hotel and at the Praia D'El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort. It's safe to say they had a great time.
Terrific Golf and views at Westcliffs. (photo: Leadingcourses.com)

This blog post was written by Ambassadors Guillem Mataro, Yves Charmy, Dagmar Buysse, Jose Luis Marquez and Dave and Jane Finn and Leading Courses Evangelist Leonard van Nunen.

Flying to Lisbon is easy as Lisbon airport has plenty of connections to all major European cities. When you arrive car rental is no problem either. Some roads need toll payments but the car rental will provide you with a toll-chip so you can use the express lane. We ended up spending less than € 20 on toll, in the 500 kilometres we drove (mostly highway).

During our trip we had the opportunity to play a brand new course that actually wasn’t even officially open, Pinheirinho, just 20 minutes south of Troia. The Troia Peninsula is bustling with developments but luckily the original beautiful nature is respected. Our Spanish ambassador Guillem will tell you more about that later in this article.

The Troia Peninsula

Views from Troia Golf on the Troia Peninsula. (Photo: Yves Charmy)

The Troia península looks like a place created on purpose to be the home of great golf courses. It's a large and narrow piece of land formed by sand dunes and pine trees with the Atlantic ocean on its western side and the sanctuary of the Sado river on the eastern side. Connected by ferry (20 min) to Setúbal and just over an hour drive to Lisbon and the international airport makes it a preferred spot to go golfing.

Actually there is only one golf course opened, that’s Troia Golf but some great projects are in the making and will turn Troia península into a main golf destination itself and probably one of the best in continental Europe.

Herdade do Pinheirinho

The most advanced Project is Heredade do Pinheirinho, situated 30 km south of Troia golf and that has the golf course already done and ready to play but is still closed to public access. The clubhouse is also built but is not operating yet. Originally it was supposed to have 2 hotels (150 & 180 rooms), 3 touristic towns (400-500 rooms), 4 aparthotels with 260 apartments and 204 villas. Also a 27 holes golf course (actually only 18 playable). Unluckily the financial crisis 2008-2012 made the owners return the land to the bank and the Project was over. In 2020 Austrian company Vic Properties bought it and looks like they want to build it. Actually now they are planning to build a hotel, 450 villas and 250 apartments.

Comporta Dunes Resort

Another Project in the making is Comporta Dunes Resort that will be situated between Troia and Pinheirinho it Will have two 18 holes courses designed by David McLay Kidd (Dunes) and Tom Fazio (Links), while Dunes is already under construction, Links has its planning approved. Heredade da Comporta is one of the biggest landowners in Portugal. They want to créate a luxury and environmentally respectful complex. It Will be the first Aman Project in Portugal and its only resort and spa in Iberic Peninsula with 36 villas adjacent to the complex.

Costa Terra Golf & Ocean Club

The third big project is Costa Terra Golf & Ocean Club with a Tom Fazio course that they say: “Tom Fazio’s raw, rugged design takes you along the coastal dunes through enchanting pine forests and colourful heathland”  it promises to be one of the most luxurious destinations. There you will also be able to find fishing, hiking, horseback riding, surfing etc. The real estate will consist of a private gated community in the initial phase, on 40 premier estate homesites. Upon completion, they will have 146 estate homesites and more than 100 additional turnkey club residences, golf cottages and luxury villas.

The golf courses in Lisbon

During the golf trip to Lisbon we played 5 golf courses in 5 days. All golf courses are located within a 1,5 hour drive from Lisbon's city centre. Troià Golf Course and - new kid on the block - Herdade do Pinheirinho are about 1,5 hours southeast of Lisbon. The actual distance to the city is much less, but because Troià Golf is located on the far end of the Troià peninsula, the drive is a bit longer than you might expect when viewing a map.

West Cliffs, Praia D'El Rey and Royal Óbidos are all conveniently located within 5 kilometres from each other at a little over an hours drive from Lisbon's City centre.

Herdade do Pinheirinho

Herdade do Pinheirinho will most likely be one of the best courses in Portugal when it officially opens. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

Herdade do Pinheirinho is a modern resort-style course and one of the fairest designs we played in Portugal. It opened a few years back, but the real estate development went bankrupt and is now under new management. The course is already in great shape but is not scheduled to open for the public until later in 2022. We had the privilege of getting a sneak preview.

The layout offers lush rolling fairways and large receptive greens with big undulations but small on short par-4’s. Most have mounding behind them that will filter any long shots back towards the pin. The sand in the bunkers is deep and very consistent to hit out of.

The rough is short but further in the spiny gorse is dangerous and almost impossible to find your ball. A word to the wise: do not enter if you are wearing short pants. The most memorable holes are the 4th, a long par-5 with a large pond impeding your approach shot and the 8th, a short par-3 with an enormous 3-tiered green.

When this course officially opens it will certainly be highly ranked in Portugal.

Troià Golf Course

Troia Golf is located on the Troia peninsula alongside the coast. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

Ideally located a little over an hour south of Lisbon on the Troià peninsula, Troià Golf is the flagship golf course in the region. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr, the championship course of Troià was inaugurated in 1980 and is a Par 72 of 6137m.

Troià offers a particularity in its design which is linked to its location on the the Atlantic Ocean. This course has no rough, only sand- and vegetation dunes that border the fairways of this magnificent course. This links course offers golfers a lovely round of golf amidst pines and dunes, but above all, breathtaking views of the ocean from the start of hole N°3. This hole is also considered by its designer as one of the best par-4's he has ever designed.

Troià golf offers a variety of situations and game strategies, with sometimes wide fairways allowing to use the driver, but also holes with narrow fairways where precision is needed. The constant factor is the bunkers that are ideally located and protecting any attacks of the green.

As often when it comes to seaside courses, playing this course on a sunny day offers vistas that will remain etched in your memory forever. But if the wind is up, the course will defend itself and you need to bring your A-game. Just like during the 1983 Portugal Open, where SamTorrance's winning score after 4 rounds was only -2.

Hole 17, a par 3 of 160m is one of those holes where the wind is a real factor. With its deep but very narrow green, located a few meters from the 40kms beach of the peninsula, this hole could become a real golf challenge if the wind is up. But rest assured, the weather in the region is normally quite gentle.

Committed to an eco-responsible approach, the Troià golf course is GEO Certified®, which has enabled it to save 45 million litres of water over one year of operation and this has no consequence on impeccable maintenance. The clubhouse offers all the services expected by golfers with a Pro shop, changing rooms and of course the restaurant and terrace,  located close to a putting area and the tee of Hole N°1. Golf de Troià is without a doubt the best golf course to play south of Lisbon.

West Cliffs

West Cliffs is a spectacular golf course designed by Cynthia Dye. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

West Cliffs is probably one of the very few golf courses in the world that was designed by a woman, Cynthia Dye, the niece of Sawgrass' architect Pete Dye. The plot of land Cynthia got for this project is amazing, soft rolling slopes on the Atlantic Ocean just an hour north of Lisbon. Although the holes are not directly bordering the ocean, you are very close on several occasions and the views from the back nine are really amazing.

It is always important to play a course from the right tees but in the case of West Cliffs it is even more important. The beautiful design with the green fairways in contrast to the dark rough has one big disadvantage: if you miss the fairway and your ball goes in the scrubs, chances are your ball is lost. The course is just too beautiful to be annoyed about lost balls ruining your score and mood so choose the right tee.

The tees are numbered with the first 2 figures of the length of the course 57 is 5.700 meters, 60 is 6.000 meters etc. The caddie master will give you advice based on your playing level. So listen carefully and rather be too conservative than too aggressive during your first round on this course.

Some of our favourite holes at West Cliffs are the 2nd, a short par-3 with a very funky green. It looks easy but can be quite a challenge to make par here. The 5th is a relatively short par-3 with a pretty extreme green. The 7th is an amazing par-5 where a good drive and the shape of the hole can give a possibility to reach the green in 2, but you need two perfect shots. Hole 9 is a great risk and reward hole where you can reach the green if the wind is in the right direction and you hit a bomb off the tee.

From the 10th hole you have gorgeous views of the Atlantic. The 12th is our favorite par-3 of the course. The views from the 14th tee are the best and on 18 we advise you to walk up the back tee and enjoy the magnificent views, it is a very challenging hole though, our advice is to stay left.

To sum it up, West Cliffs is a beautiful, challenging course very close to Praia D'el Rey with the excellent Marriot and next-door neighbour Royal Óbidos is a great track as well.

Praia D'El Rey Golf & Beach Resort

Praia D'El Rey has some amazing views on the ocaean. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

A course that was designed by famous architect Cabell B. Robinson. Praia D'El Rey is a course that has been a pioneer in the area for almost 25 years. It's a highly recommended experience to play this course.

Praia D'El Rey is a parkland hybrid course with the first holes located in a beautiful pine forest. From the 12th hole, the course approaches the Ocean and the real challenge begins. You really experience the sensation of playing the links alongside the Atlantic Ocean on some of Praia D'El Rey's holes, especially holes 12 to 16.

It is a course where you can enjoy golf, the views and the sand. The unique holes near the sea make playing here an excellent expierence. The large, functional clubhouse with a well-equipped small pro shop has a good restaurant with a large terrace.

Royal Óbidos

Royal Óbidos was Seve Ballesteros' last design. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

Royal Óbidos was designed by Severiano Ballesteros in 2012, in fact, it was his last design. The course consists of 5 par-3's, 5 par-5's and 8 par-4's. It's a pleasant course to play, with fairly wide fairways, white sand bunkers and the firmest and fastest greens in the area.

Almost certainly you will feel comfortable playing the course. Right from the start one of the best holes appears. Hole 2, a par-5 of 480 meters of the yellow tees. You can try to cut over the lake if you can hit your drive at least 220 meters. Otherwise, you have to play right to a fairway area you don't see due to some trees. Then the entire hole has water to the left and front of the green.

On the front nine, there are two par-3's with a huge influence of water around the green. The back nine had our preference with hole 11 being a par-5 which is accessible in 2 but with a second shot (or third) that will always be over a water hazard. Hole 12 is a long par-4 with two sections of fairway separated by a water hazard. If you hit your drive 230m (from yellow) you can try to reach the second section and then you will have a very short second shot of around 100m. If you decide to play safe you will have a second shot of around 160m and the hole becomes much more complicated.

Hole 14 is a par-4 with a nice elevated tee and great perspective of part of the farm and the clubhouse in the background. The second part of the hole had water on the left. Hole 18 is similar to hole 14 but in a par-5 version, a good hole to finish the round.

At Royal Óbidos you will find a well maintained, modern clubhouse with a huge verandah on the restaurant side with good views of the course, especially the range area. This course is a great option to combine with its neighbours West Cliffs and Praia D'El Rey, making the combination of them a golf destination in itself.

Golf hotels in Lisbon

We stayed in two beautiful hotels, Troia Design Hotel on the Troia peninsula and The Marriott at Praia d’El Rey. Both hotels are an excellent choice if you're planning to play golf in Lisbon or the surrounding area.

Blue & Green Troià Design Hotel

The fabulous Troia Design Hotel. (Photo: The Azalea Group)

Less than an hour from Lisbon and ideally located north of Comporta on the Troià peninsula at the estuary of the Sado river, the Blue & Green Troià Design Hotel is the flagship of the Troià Resort.

Here, every detail counts to make your visit unforgettable. Whether you choose a luxurious room, a studio or an apartment, you will enjoy maximum comfort with an impressive view whether it is of the marina, the sea, the river or the mountains.

This hotel, completely renovated on the basis of a building built in the 1970s, offers now 15 floors, two types of rooms and 4 different types of apartments. The resort also offers its visitors two outdoor swimming pools, two restaurants, two bars, a 1200m2 Spa, a casino and finally a conference centre.

The Blue & Green restaurant is undoubtedly the hotel's finest restaurant. It has a contemporary atmosphere and breathtaking view of the marina and the menu is inspired by products and flavours of the region.

Praia D'El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort

North of Lisbon between the city of Peniche and not far from the fortified city of Óbidos, is where the Praia d´El Rey Resort is located. Surrounded by splendid wild nature, bordered by an endless coastline, this Resort will delight fans of outdoor activities and water sports.

Nice room at Praia D'El Rey's Marriot Hotel. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

The Marriott hotel has 177 rooms including 9 suites with an extraordinary view of the ocean, but also includes access to a range of apartments and villas, all very elegant and comfortable, they are perfectly equipped and will meet all your needs & expectations. The Praia del Rey golf course was the resort’s first golf course, but since 2017, the West Cliffs course has been added to the resort’s offering.

The establishment will also offer you the possibility of accessing many other activities such as surfing, tennis, horse riding, fishing etc. For maximum relaxation, do not hesitate to visit the spa or the fitness center.

As for catering, the resort offers no less than 6 restaurants, with traditional Mediterranean cuisine served as a buffet with the Tempera restaurant, a snack offering, without forgetting to mention the Empara, a gourmet restaurant.

Places to see and things to do near Lisbon

From our perspective, a stay and play golf vacation also means getting out there and exploring the local heritage, history, and gastronomy, especially when there are so many tempting opportunities nearby. Within striking distance of El Rey Beach there are amazing vistas, superb vineyards, magnificent monasteries, and medieval villages, all with stories to share. Here are a few of our favourites.


After a round of golf, there is much to be said for taking in the local flavours. While the Douro Valley is well-known for its wines and ports, Central Portugal also boasts some exceptional vineyards, less than thirty minutes from the coast. Here is one we’re sure you’ll want to visit.

Quinta do Gradil, just may be the oldest wine producer in Cadaval but it’s one that has made the shift from volume to creating more focused, quality driven wines. As we make our way to the Wine Shop, we’re greeted by our host Dina who is as bubbly as the winery’s Sparkling Reserve Brut. Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless and before we know it, we’re off to explore the grounds. As we walk and talk, we learn that grapes have been grown here since the 15th century and while the estate served as a royal hunting lodge and the principal residence of the Marquess de Pombal it was in ruins when Luis Vieira purchased it in 1998. All that remained of the 300-year-old palace and church were the facades and it would take Vieira twenty years to firmly re-establish the vineyards before he could embark on an ambitious project to restore these buildings to their former glory.

Knowing the history and the owner’s challenges makes the tasting room even more memorable. As we settle in, Dina starts us off with a flight of Quinta do Gradil’s 1492 vintages. We soon discover that the well-priced, very approachable red pairs well with pizza but in the end, we give in to the temptation to live large and purchase a premium bottle of Maria do Carma.


Óbidos is delightful during the day but is even more enjoyable in the evening after the tour buses have departed. Driving west towards the ancient town, we can’t help but be impressed by the well-preserved Moorish castle that dominates the skyline. It feels like a place where time has stood still and as we step through the Porta da Vila gates, and enter the medieval village, we’re immediately transported back to an era where royalty reigned supreme.

At first, the narrow main street lined with quaint little shops, restaurants, and cafes feels touristy but as we navigate the maze of cobblestone paths that connect the village to the castle, we soon get a real sense of people and place.  We pop into the lovely 13th century Gothic Igreja de São Pedro to pay tribute to the famous local painter, Josefa De Óbidos and for the book lovers in the group, the Livaria De Santiago, a former church and the Livaria De Adega a wine cellar turned bookstore before being drawn to explore the castle looming above us.

One of the narrow streets on Portugal's Silver Coast. (Photo: Dave Finn)

Making the trek to the top of the fortress is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the effort. We tread paths and scramble up stairs that have been worn thin over the centuries by those who have gone before us. Admittedly, we’re a wee bit winded by the time we reach the ramparts, but when I lean over the edge, that’s when the magic happens. Far below, a sea of twinkling illuminates the whitewashed houses in the village and it’s suddenly easy to imagine that this fairy tale kingdom is yours to rule.

Climbing down is a little bit easier but still requires a little fortification so we stop at IBN ERRIK REX, the village’s oldest tavern for a shot of Ginjinha, the locally made, sour cherry liqueur - one last sweet memory before we call it a night.


Portugal’s western shores may be known as the Silver Coast, but it serves up mile after mile of expansive golden sand beaches, windswept cliffs, rugged rock formations and the largest recorded waves in the history, reaching 30 metres (almost 100 feet) in height.

Portugal's Silver Coast actually has miles of golden sand beaches. (Photo: Dave Finn)

In Nazaré, you can experience it all – the sheer power of the ocean combined with the laid back vibe of a sleepy fishing village turned surfers’ mecca.

You may not be inclined to catch a wave, but if you find your way to the 16th century São Miguel Arcanjo Fort, you’ll have the perfect vantage point to watch the pros attempt to tame the massive waves and as dusk descends, the ideal spot to capture a stunning sunset.

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