Faldo Design begins work on new course on Madeira clifftops

  • Ponta do Pargo
    Faldo Design

    The Faldo Design team visit the project site on the island of Madeira, Portugal, for the new Ponta do Pargo course

  • Ponta da Pargo
    Faldo Design

    A visualisation of Faldo Design’s proposed layout

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Earthworks are in progress on the new Faldo Design course at Ponta do Pargo on the island of Madeira, Portugal.

The project is 17 years in the making, with Faldo’s original design halted at the preliminary civil engineering stage, due to the global financial crisis of 2008-10. Faldo Design was brought back in summer 2023 by the Regional Government of Madeira as it looked to resurrect the project.

The site for the new course is close to the western clifftops of the Portuguese island and has over 600 feet of elevation change. The lowest point on the property will be the sixteenth green, which is to be laid out near Farol da Ponta do Pargo – the island’s 1922 lighthouse, while the highest point will the seventh tee. Faldo Design is planning to locate three greens - the seventh, eighth and ninth – close to the cliff edge.

“We believe this will be a bucket list course that every golfer will dream of playing,” said Sir Nick Faldo. “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.”

After reviewing the 2007 routing and considering some new masterplan requirements, Faldo Design has adjusted a few holes in its new plan and is reducing the number of irrigated areas. The site is covered with a local Kikuya grass, which is being selected for tees, fairways and rough – this selection will reduce water requirements and allow for a seamless transition between the course and Ponta do Pargo’s native flora.

“I’m really 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,” said Faldo. “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 fourteen to eighteen are fully exposed to the full force of the sea. Wide open linksland perched on clifftops has our whole team very excited.”

Faldo Design has been working closely with the local authorities to get the project back up and running and is currently selecting the shaping team, with the aim for them to be on site in early 2024 as earthworks are nearly complete on the front nine.