Quinta do Lago
David Keywood pays a visit to the new Paul McGinley Golf Academy at Quinta do Lago in the Algarve
By David Keywood. Last Updated: 19/06/13 4:58pm
2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley with our David Keywood
It's been three years in the making but 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has recently opened his new Golf Academy at the family resort of Quinta do Lago in the Algarve region of Portugal.
Paul has worked with Taylor Made Golf for most of his career and they have joined forces again at one of the top golfing resorts in Europe to ensure you get the most out of your game.
At the new fitting centre at Quinta do Lago you can get custom fitted with the latest Taylor Made equipment (putter, irons and driver) by using state-of-the-art technology and expert professionals who are second to none when it comes to finding the right club for you.
I was lucky enough to visit Quinta do Lago to witness the fitting centre in action and was there when McGinley turned up to open his new golf academy. He talked in depth about his relationship with Taylor Made and how getting fitted for clubs is essential to helping your game.
As Paul said: "You wouldn't go and buy an expensive Italian suit without having it measured for you so why should buying golf clubs be any different."
There are a wide variety of golfers on the planet. Some want to be the best they possibly can and some play the game for pure enjoyment. But Quinta do Lago caters for everyone.
The resort is home to three fantastic golf courses. North, South & Laranjal. I managed to play all three on my short trip and my favourite was Laranjal.
The ninth hole at Laranjal - Dave's favourite track
Laranjal was voted the best golf course at the Portuguese Travel Awards which is an amazing feat for a course that only opened in 2009 and is up against all the other top class golf courses Portugal has to offer.
The course is built on an orange grove and is situated in the Ludo valley two kilometres east of the resort. I decided to test my skills from the black championship tees which made the course 7,086 yards.
There are five lakes on the course and finding the right position off the tee and on the greens is a must. The greens are undulated but fair. I was told that they could make the greens even faster than the 11 on the stimpmetre but keeping the ball on the putting surface would be near impossible on some holes.
The course is made up of five par 5s, eight par 4s and five par 3s. The par 3s are not for the faint-hearted especially off the black tees where the 7th is over 250 yards. Even the pros in the US Open at Merion struggled with those distances!
Quinta North and South are situated next to each other and just across the road from the golf academy. Both courses are surrounded by some of the most gorgeous looking villas I have ever set my eyes on. I heard that many footballers own villas on these courses as they are given a lot of privacy in the resort.
Both courses offer a real test.
The North is slightly shorter than the South but the bunkers and water hazards are well positioned so you have to ensure you play for the correct position off the tee. I found the course to be quite tight so blasting your driver was a risk.
Quinta South - home to the Portuguese Open on eight occasions
The South course is known as the jewel in the Quinta do lago crown. The Portuguese Open has been played here eight times. The course is set amongst umbrella pines, lakes and wild flowers and overlooks the spectacular scenery of the Ria Formosa National Park.
I only played the back nine of the South course and the three holes which stood out were 14, 15 and 17. The 14th for the scenery as you tee off from an elevated tee, the 15th is a par 3 which is around 210 yards from the back tee and a carry all over the lake, while the 17th is a par 5 - you tee off over the lake from the 15th but you are faced by some beautiful looking villas at the same time.
After you've finished your round there is nothing better than sitting outside the club house with a nice refreshing drink and a bite to eat.
However, if you prefer to get yourself sorted out and go out for a meal, look no further than Casa do Lago restaurant. Casa do Lago is located on the water's edge with fresh fish brought in daily. I ate some of the biggest tiger prawns I have ever seen and they were cooked to perfection.
Casa do Lago also have a floating green in the middle of the lake. You can hit balls from the lakeside to try and hit the green but it's impossible to keep the ball on there as it's made of wood. It makes a loud bang when you're successful, usually greeted by applause from the spectators who are there for food or drinks.
During my stay in Portugal I stayed in the Conrad Algarve. This superb hotel only opened in September 2012 and fully deserves its 5-star status from the staff down to the rooms and the detail which has gone into them.
The hotel is situated on the doorstep of Quinta do Lago so is a perfect location for a golf holiday.
This was the first time I'd ever travelled to Portugal so I didn't really know what to expect. After visiting I would definitely return - especially for a golf trip.
I can't recommend the Quinta do Lago resort enough and if you are a keen golfer like myself, check out the Golf academy, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
For more information on Quinta do Lago visit http://www.quintadolago.com