Golf Course Architecture - Issue 73, July 2023

not hope to get his construction crew to the site to finish the job. Walsh, therefore, was contracted to handle the build, which he did in close collaboration with the architect. Now, after its incredibly extended birthing process (it is actually even longer than described above, because the property had been lined up for development long before Kidd got involved; the original golf course routing was done by Donald Steel), the course is finished and ready to make a bow. It will open formally in October (though it is in a soft opening phase now) and in my opinion, the day it opens, Portugal will have a new number one golf course. When Kidd first visited Comporta in 2008, he must have become very excited, very quickly. The whole of the Tróia peninsula, at the base of which the course sits, is sand, with pine trees and scrub vegetation. It is perfect golfing country: if enough water was available, it could easily play host to dozens of excellent courses. And the property the Dunas course occupies is remarkable even by the standards of its surroundings: a kilometre from the Atlantic and measuring a total of 2,500 acres (the golf course sits on about 250 acres of that). It is, essentially, huge sand dune country, though the vegetation is not obviously seaside. The holes rear and fall across enormous valleys; it is the kind of property a golf architect dreams of. The course is like nothing anyone who has only played golf in Europe will ever have seen before. My closest comparison is with Kidd’s own Mammoth Dunes course at Sand Valley in Wisconsin; the two share a sense of scale, and the landscapes are vaguely similar, though perhaps Mammoth has an eccentricity, exemplified by the short par-four sixth with its crazily wide boomerang green, that is not present at Comporta. The sheer size of the undulations at Dunas gives rise to a lot of partial blindness. Kidd says the most dangerous place is usually the best place to be on his courses, but here he often allows golfers to pick their poison: on several occasions you can trade a shorter route for a better view. The greens are creeping bentgrass, but everything else has been seeded with fescue, surely a first for southern Europe. At the moment, the course is young and quite green, but assuming that it is allowed to dry out and firm up as it matures, it will truly play like the links course its architect says it is. Angles will matter here. The greens are enormous, though, compared to the scale of the contour that surrounds them, I thought they were quieter than I had expected. I paced off the green of the par-three third hole, for example, and it was 69 paces long (though the hole is massive, well over 200 metres from the back tee, so perhaps it needs it). There is a lot of sand: one of my playing partners found sand six times in the first four holes. Most of the holes are either up, down or both. The par-five twelfth stood out to me as being mostly 55 Kidd's Dunas course sits on 250 acres of perfect golfing country; sand, pines and scrub