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A Port in the StormÖ

 

After the traumas and horror of the week when terrorists turned the world upside down, flying on the Monday after the atrocities in the USA didnít seem top of my priorities.

However arriving at Londonís Heathrow Terminal 2 on Monday morning for the early morning flight with TAP to Lisbon, everything seemed very calm and re-assuring. Check in took slightly longer than usual and security was very tight. A body and physical check of hand luggage at the gate delayed the flight but thatís a small price to pay for safety.


The 10th Hole at Quinta da Marinha

The flight was full but the service excellent and after a good breakfast we landed in sunny and warm Lisbon some 2 hours after leaving Heathrow.


View from the Quinta da Marinha

Longshot, with whom our group of 12 were travelling, had organised people carriers for us, having collected these from Budget, we headed off down the A5 motorway to Cascais. We were staying at the 4 star Hotel Quinta da Marinha, opened in 1999, with most rooms overlooking the pool area and the golf course beyond.

A quick change and then it was off to the Quinta da Marinha golf course a 2 minute drive away. Designed by Robert Trent Jones and built amongst pine trees and surrounded by beautiful villas, the par 71, 6014 metre course is an excellent layout and provides a testing challenge. The course has an unusual balance with 5 par 5ís and 6 par 3ís, but donít let that detract from playing a course with some fine views of the Atlantic, notably from the 13th, the course signature hole. Itís certainly not an easy course to play but the hazards, whether water, sand, or trees are all visible.

The course will feature on the European Tour when the Estoril Open is played there from the 11th to the 14th October 2001. Our party played our own form of the Quinta Open which involved a player from each group using a yellow ball in rotation. The team score was the yellow ball score at each hole. If or when you lost the yellow ball the total team score was the score to that point. By not losing our yellow ball our group were the undisputed winners!.  

We were then entertained to a wine tasting provided by the Estoril Coast Tourist Office at a lovingly restored house in the centre of Cascais. This not only went on for a long time but also didnít require the spitting out of the wine from one vineyard before moving on to the next! We tasted some excellent white wine and quite outstanding red Ė Quinta da Cotto 1997 from an estate near Porto- accompanied by local cured ham and Portuguese cheese - this provided an excellent aperitif to dinner at the nearby Hotel Albatroz.

The meal accompanied by local music students, who sang excerpts from classic opera to Andrew Lloyd Webber, made an interesting background to a meal that certainly catered for the fish lover, local crab, and grouper baked whole. The wine and the port flowed freely and well, before taxis took us back to our hotel.

Not all of us, perhaps none of us, thought enough was enough, and it was a quiet group who made their way the next day to the new course Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golf some 5 minutes drive from our hotel.


The Clubhouse at Oitavos

Designed by an American Arthur Hill, this was his first course in Europe. A truly magnificent layout and in outstanding condition awaited us and only the extravagance of the previous evening may have slightly affected our play. Close to the sea and carved from pine forest the course will undoubtedly rank as one of Europeís finest. This is a par 71 course measuring 6303 metres from the championship tees, and 5809 metres from the normal medal tees.

It was our privilege to play the course in near perfect conditions and with very few other players. Although the green fees will not be cheap I would recommend anyone to play Oitavos - a real golfing experience awaits you. Some of the views of the Atlantic are outstanding but it is the layout and condition of the course that command your respect and enjoyment. It is a private club but they will allow green fees provided you produce a certified club handicap certificate.

A quick lunch and then back to Lisbon airport and another smooth flight back to Heathrow on TAP under the expert guidance of their UK manager Jose Moreira. A most enjoyable 2 day trip, though Iíd suggest a more leisurely stay to enjoy the other excellent golf in the area and perhaps the night life of Cascais.

Longshot Golf Holidays have recently produced their new golf holiday brochure with world wide destinations and an incentive to book early and save up to £50 per person for bookings made before October 15th 2001. For Portugal and the courses I played stay at the Hotel Quinta da Marinha with Longshot and your green fee on the Quinta da Marinha course is £20 weekday and £24 weekends. Travel with Longshot and stay elsewhere

The 9th at Oitavos
and you pay £37/£47. Normal public green fees are £39/£49. At Oitavos their Director of Golf quoted a rack green fee of £100 but again travel and stay with Longshot and the cost is £61.

Stuart Barber
September 2001
Publisher http://www.golftoday.co.uk

Stuart Barber travelled as the guest of Longshot Golf Holidays, TAP airlines and the Hotel Quinta da Marinha.