West Cliffs: An oceanside thriller

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It is fair to say the Top 100 Courses in Europe ranking is a rigorous re-evaluation of the finest courses in Continental Europe. There is more movement up and down, out and in – with a noteworthy NINE new entries – than any Top 100 list we can remember.

One new name, though, stands out. West Cliffs in Portugal – open a matter of weeks – has debuted at No.25.

Such a sensationally high entry position is a significant achievement for this Cynthia Dye design on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, north of Lisbon. Located a few miles along the cliffs from its sister course Praia d’El Rey – which stays within the top 30 – and 2013 Top 100 entrant Royal Obidos, it means the previously unheralded Silver Coast an hour north of Lisbon airport is suddenly stocked with three world-class courses. 

The first Dye design in Portugal – and only the fourth in Europe – the 7,003-yard layout sits on over 200 hectares of rolling sand dunes and coastal vegetation. But it was a long time in the making as the epic site was so sensitive environmentally.

Dye happily admits the terrain was helpful in the creation of a spellbinding course – a rolling landscape atop cliffs with views of the Atlantic from all 18 holes. “This has been an incredible project to be involved in, right from the moment I first visited the site and saw what was possible 14 years ago,” says Dye. “With its amazing location and terrain, it is the most fantastic natural site imaginable. The course was really already there – it was our job to shape the holes to create an incredible, dramatic experience for everyone.”

Golf World was one of the first to play it and can confirm West Cliffs lives up to its hype. 

It won’t develop into one of Europe’s ‘must visit’ courses... it already is one. The views are majestic, especially on the back nine, but this is much more than just a course with a nice setting. There are numerous classic holes, such as the short 5th – part of a phenomenal collection of par 3s – the awesome long 7th and beautiful, strategic two-shotters at 7 and 14. 

No.25 is a headline entry position, but West Cliffs will assuredly rise even higher.  Click here to read the full Top 100 Courses: Continental Europe list.

Nick Wright