Golf Course Architecture: Issue 55 - January 2019

71 architect has routed holes up and down it in a creative way to maximise the available width. The tenth and eleventh (one a five, one a four) are both long holes that cross the river on several occasions – demanding stout and reliable hitting – while the twelfth sees the golfer ascend the valley side to play a dogleg right tee shot back down into the valley. The fairway is protected by a large bunker on the right; certainly a very inviting tee shot, and a strong hole. The thirteenth requires more ascent to reach the tee, and offers perhaps the best vistas of the entire course, across the hills and mountains that line the site. It struck me as fairly remarkable that there was room to build this par three hole on its high ridgeline, but Benjamim Silva explained to me that the earthworks had made it possible. The final part of the three hole ‘loop’ is another par three, this time from a high tee on the valley side to a green set right by the river. From here, the golfer turns down the valley and home. The seventeenth hole, a drive and a pitch to a green set on the opposite bank of the river, would have made the ideal closer; it is located directly under where the clubhouse terrace will be. But this is the price to be paid for a tight valley site of this kind; there simply was not room for another hole further up the valley. One of the things I loved about Ombria was the way that the design and construction team has emphasised its Portuguese character. Regular readers will be only too well aware that I believe a course must reflect its location in landscape style, featuring, and ideally golf design too, and Ombria does that well. The stone walls, for example, have been built to an outstanding level, and the restoration of the network of ‘levada’ acquaducts, previously used to irrigate the farm, but now used to fill the large irrigation lake, almost entirely by gravity, is a remarkable and wonderful thing. Ombria is mostly growing in now, with opening planned for 2020, and I think it will be a success. It is something quite different to most of the Algarve’s courses, which are to be found on the coastal plain, and I can see a day up in the hills as being a very relaxing excursion. The resort and villa development, really only in earthwork stages at the moment, promises to be extremely dramatic, and with only a minor impact on the golf course. GCA A visualisation of the Ombria development