Golf travel expert Andy Waple is back from a return visit to Troia Golf resort. In this post, he not only gives you tips for playing the ‘Troia the Destroyer’ course (see the end of the article) but an insight into the natural beauty that surrounds the site.
Natural treasures at Troia Golf
When you are plotting a route back to the fairway from the rough at Troia Golf pay a thought to the wildlife that may be looking over your shoulder.
The Troia peninsula, a breathtaking sand spit to the south of Lisbon is a haven for all kinds of animals, birds and sea creatures. In fact there are 600 species of plants and animals that make their home there.
If you visit this beautiful stretch of Portuguese coastline you will soon learn why it attracts so many animals. It is wild and wonderful, and in the main quiet and secluded – the perfect place for shy animals as well as holidaymakers at one with nature who enjoy a laid back atmosphere. The Troia landscape is very flat and vegetation is largely small pine forests with a mix of coastal grasses, scrubland and pretty wild flowers.
The waters lying on each side of the peninsula are well known for the pod of 30 or so dolphins that spend time swimming in the Atlantic and the Sado estuary between here and the small city of Setúbal.
Few people know that Troia is also home to the common genet, a strange animal that looks somewhat like a cat, but in fact is not related at all. It is a nocturnal mammal, so you are very unlikely to see one.
Troia Golf, designed with nature in mind
You would think that a golf course with manicured fairways and greens would spoil all that nature has provided in abundance. But Troia Golf course was designed to embrace its surroundings and is still anxious to complement the flora and fauna rather than disturb it.
Its designer, the famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr, was known for his fanatical devotion to preserving the natural beauty of the environment so he must have been inspired when he was commissioned to build a course here.
When laying down the fairways in 1979 he chose to use these features as natural defences in place of the more typical rough and water hazards, while adding many imposing bunkers on fairways and greenside. As a result he created one of his masterpieces admired by all who visit and play the course.
Alexandre Barroso, the Director of Golf, is keen for golfers to appreciate that they are fortunate to be playing on such a special piece of land. He has produced an information board to help them understand what is living around them in their natural habitat in keeping with the Troia Resort motto, “Holding hands with nature.”
The board, placed in front of the clubhouse, shows the rich variety you might spot among the pines, dunes and freshwater lakes such as the Iberian green frog, spiny footed lizard, European turtle doves, Hoopoe as well as dragonflies and bats.
Tips for playing golf at Troia the Destroyer
As for the golf itself, Troia is clearly one of the best golf courses in Portugal. Known colloquially as ‘Troia the Destroyer’, it is challenging, particularly if you miss the fairways leaving yourself with a nasty shot from bumpy, sandy lies, often with your swing hampered by tufts of thick shrubby plants or a pine tree.
Given its location, wind can prove another natural hazard so it pays to take timely advice on which tee boxes to play off.
There is plenty of variety – stand out holes include the first which is long and impeccably defended by a host of bunkers, the trademark short par 4 dogleg 3rd, the 14th and the 15th with its huge roller coaster green.
Alexandre Barrosso brings new direction to Troia Golf
Alexandre has been at Troia Golf Resort for just a short time and aims to put his stamp on the course and facilities to bring further improvements to an already superb lay out and immaculate modern clubhouse.
He has already restored the original course to its natural state by removing the semi rough and is investigating how to improve bunker sand.
The former Portuguese national team golfer learned the game at Oporto Golf Club where he eventually became an inaugural member of a federation formed to further the interests of golf clubs in the north of the country.
He then went into the golf industry for 10 years, before becoming the director of golf at Golfe da Ilha at Terceira in Azores. He later helped to open the remodeled course at Vidago Palace moving on to sales director for the new West Cliffs course at Praia D’El Rey on the Silver Coast.
His move to Troia, which he first played and loved in 1988, was a dream come true.
“My aim is to raise standards of the course to an even higher level and improve the service we offer to golfers to complement the golfing experience,” he told me over lunch at the clubhouse.
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Golf travel journalist Andy Waple struck his first ball in Portugal in the early 1980s at Quinta do Lago and was immediately hooked. He has since travelled the world playing and reviewing some of the finest and far-flung courses and resorts and as a long standing member of the International Golf Travel Writers Association, his work has appeared in many UK based publications. Andy visits Portugal regularly to enjoy the country’s golf, culture and cuisine.
Follow Andy’s golfing updates on Twitter: @andywaple