Faldo Resurrects Dramatic Madeira Course

Paul Jansen (far right) is leading Faldo Design’s on-site team at the dramatic Ponta Do Pargo Golf Course.

Madeira Island, Portugal: Sir Nick Faldo is resurrecting his Ponta Do Pargo Golf Course on the western tip of the island of Madeira, often referred to as the ‘Hawaii of Europe’.

Fifteen years have passed since the project was a victim of the global financial crisis in 2009. With preliminary civil engineering works halted over a decade ago, the dream of developing one of Europe’s most dramatic golf courses was almost forgotten.

The terrain at the site of Sir Nick’s newest European project is dramatic, with more than 200 metres (600 feet) of elevation change, rising from the 16th green, tucked up against the infamous lighthouse that guards the coastline, to the seventh tee that towers above 400-foot cliffs dropping to the Atlantic.

The greens on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes sit on the edge of the world as they cling to the cliff edge.

Sir Nick said: “We have something special on Madeira. Having a design/build site that lets us carve the course out on site is very exciting. We believe this will be a bucket list course that every golfer will dream of playing.

“My on-site design team is being led by Paul Jansen, who was involved with the project back in 2007 and has been working with me on some routing adjustments. Our objective is to utilise the unique terrain and ensure each hole is as captivating as the natural features already there. The scale of the site is hard to explain; the cliffs are massive.”

An Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, Faldo Design has been working closely with the local authorities to ensure the project is fully back up to speed and they are currently selecting the shaping team, planned to be on site in early 2024 as the major earth works are nearly completed on the front nine.

Holes seven, eight and nine boast jaw-dropping views of the coastline famous for its sunsets. Balancing the nines was essential.

Sir Nick said: “I’m looking forward to getting out there again this spring to study and create what we believe at Faldo Design could be 18 fabulous golf holes. The land, cliffs and views are so dramatic and stunning.

“There are some opportunities for incredible green locations that may require some equally incredible shots to reach them. We are still finalising some green locations on the back nine as we need to make sure this beast is playable when it starts to blow off the Atlantic.

“The greens on holes 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 are fully exposed to the full force of the sea. Wide open linksland perched on cliff tops has our whole team very excited.”

Sustainable golf design has been a Faldo Design principle for decades. After reviewing the old routing from 2007, and based on some masterplan requirements, a few holes have been adjusted, reducing the overall irrigated areas.

The site is covered with a local Kikuya grass that is being selected for the tees, fairways and rough. This will reduce the water requirements and allow for a seamless transition between the course and the native flora that gives Ponta Do Pargo such majestic beauty.

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