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Golf Feature: The Oceanico Faldo Course in the Algarve due to open May 2008

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Nick plans that the course will play a more contoured type fairway, leaving a lot of crushed stone left and right of his fairways to give you the feeling you are in the mountains.

Said Nick: ‘The land at Amendoeira is dramatic, and this project has the potential to be a real talking point in the Algarve. ‘With so many courses in the region, that’s no mean feat,’ pointed out Faldo, who will be non-playing captain of the GB & Ireland / Europe Ryder Cup team in 2008.

‘I am very excited about this project, the land is great, actually very beautiful.

‘I noticed as we flew over the Algarve that on the various courses there is a similar style to bunkering, so we will come up with something different.

‘There are a lot of golf courses on the Algarve, but Amendoeira WILL be different to anything else, the courses on this Resort being built on wonderful terrain that will give each of them a character and personality unlike any other.

‘You have incredible vistas here, beautiful undulating land and any time you get natural terrain like this, it is great fun to work with.

‘There’s a real feel of Arizona about the site and I am confident it will emerge as one of the best examples of a desert-style course in Europe.

‘It certainly lends itself to a dry environment. We will cater for the limit on watering, so the surroundings will have a very Arizona desert feel, especially with the colour of this earth, this beautiful terracotta hue.

‘It will be a great colour contrast, from green to terracotta to white bunkers, all under blue skies. It will look very impressive.

‘My strategy is to create a golf course that looks as natural as possible.

‘We just have the one flat area of three or four holes, but when you’ve got these spectacular surroundings to work with here in Silves, such wonderful hills and a rocky terrain, it’s a designer’s / architect’s dream.

‘You’ve just got to find the subtlety of the slopes, to find little things to enhance what you are looking at it, find the best locations for tees and greens and fairways and we can do that easily here.

‘This is great and we can give golfers of every standard, from pro to weekend hacker, a course to stretch and satisfy them.’ He continued: ‘We certainly think this is going to be a very testing track.

‘I’ve managed to get the more undulating land on the site and my back nine is going to be very hilly, which is fantastic because we’ve got some great views to complement the course.

‘I think play these days has become too much a hit it, find it and hit it again routine.

‘The real skill is that when you stand on the tee the golf hole shows you—tells you—what to do, and if you do what it tells you you are rewarded and if you don’t you are penalised.

‘I like my courses to be challenging to whoever plays them. There might be easy holes in some places, but they are a challenge because you have to think about them, and that is what I am after.

‘The best compliment you can get in the design business is when players come off the course and say ‘wow, that was a challenge.

‘And that’s just what I am planning here at Amendoeira.’

At one point climbing some 50 metres above Christy O’Connor Jnr.’s adjoining course on this dramatic 640-acre Amendoeira estate, the Faldo Course sweeps over two hillsides and is designed as a dramatic celebration of sporting golf and of the interior Algarve region’s plants and arid, rocky landscape.

In a modern twist of a traditional recipe, cacti and wild herbs replace the role of Sunningdale’s heather, spartan holm oaks and ancient olive trees take the place of lush English woodland, and desert scrub bunkers of crushed limestone replace Berkshire’s sandy tracts in a golf course that revels in the classic principles of strategic play.

Said Nick: ‘This, for me, is a very exciting project and, like the others it gives me a great opportunity to exploit my passion for design the same way I exploited my passion for playing.’

From the opening shot on the elevated tee on the first hole this course will present challenges for everyone.

There are a couple of downhill holes soon after the start, and, on five, the option of a spectacular shot across the largest lake on Amendoeira. The start of the back nine takes the golfer from the high tees to the plain below before the 11th, the shortest hole on the course, takes him back into the hills before the 13th presents the highest point on the course, 50m above the plain.

And as Nick says, the view from here over the entire 640 hectares of Amendoeira are commanding...but the view to the fairway is daunting!

Finally, the par 5 18th asks the golfer to thread the pinch point of bunkers left and right at 265 metres, before the green sits up in an amphitheatre in the hillside 235 metres beyond, requiring a superb strike to rise up and settle on the green.

And this is all played out, from tee to green, in full view of the clubhouse balcony!

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