Golf Course Architecture - Issue 64, April 2021

63 I n the years after the 2008 financial crisis, the world became accustomed to seeing previously blue-chip banks in trouble. But for anyone with any knowledge of the Portuguese economy, the collapse of the Banco Espírito Santo in July 2014, still came as a shock. Since its foundation by José Maria do Espírito Santo e Silva in the nineteenth century, the Espírito Santo dynasty had represented Portugal’s most powerful banking force, and one of Europe’s great family fortunes. If Espírito Santo was vulnerable, who was not? It is not within the remit of a golf magazine to examine the ins and outs of the falling from grace of one of the great banking names. Suffice to say that, after almost 150 years, the family lost control of its empire, and though the bank itself was saved (renamed Novo Banco, ‘new bank’, by partition and the creation of a ‘bad bank’, which bore the toxic assets), the Portuguese economy took a severe hit. One part of the Espírito Santo empire, though, does come within our ambit. At the time the bank collapsed, it was behind the development of a huge tourism complex on the Alentejo coast, about an hour south of Lisbon. Launched in 2010, the Comporta development was to include two golf complexes, Comporta Dunes, designed by David McLay Kidd, who has been involved with the project since May 2007, and Comporta Links, a 36-hole facility by Tom Fazio. The latter was proposed as Portugal’s prospective host for the 2018 Ryder Cup (which eventually went to Le Golf National outside Paris). After France won the right to hold the 2018 Ryder Cup, the construction of Comporta Links was put on hold, while Comporta Dunes went ahead, full speed. Kidd’s team moved fast. When this writer visited the property in early April 2014, almost half the course was ready for seed. But two months later, the heavily indebted family company through which the Espírito Santo empire was controlled hit trouble. After intense pressure from Portuguese regulators, family patriarch Ricardo Espírito Santo Salgado, chief executive of the bank and boss of the family holding company, resigned. In early July, the holding company filed for Illenis erume sitatatur maio int maxim alitiis dolor atquatium que vit exeria paritio reiuntia vellest, sequissit voluptis int, alit Comporta Dunes is finally taking shape after a six-year gap in construction