Nestled within the Algarve amid a protected nature reserve, Quinta do Lago is a sanctuary for a vast array of wildlife, as well as those who enjoy world-class golf in idyllic surroundings.
Located in the very heart of the Algarve’s golden triangle, Quinta do Lago has been at the forefront of international golf since its creation over four decades ago. Today, the five-star luxury resort’s three courses are among Europe’s best and include the extensively renewed South Course – a favourite among European Tour professionals and home to the Portuguese Open on no fewer than eight occasions.
Resort Superintendent, Quinta do Lago
“One of the unique things about being at Quinta do Lago is that we are working within a national park.”
Set among the stunning backdrop of the Ria Formosa nature reserve – recently elected as one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal – golfers of all levels enjoy a choice of challenging playing environments in picture-postcard settings. According to Resort Superintendent Paul O’Mahony, maintaining the perfectly manicured terrain requires careful and precise water management in an area that receives little rain and over 300 days of sunshine every year.
“We’re absolutely rational about all the water we use. We irrigate with actual data rather than just turning on an irrigation system. When the percentage moisture levels drop, that’s when we will irrigate.”
Paul and his colleagues are always conscious of the volume of water that they extract from the ground to keep the playing surfaces in pristine condition. They use dedicated software and a system of probes on the greens and throughout the courses that measure the actual moisture content within the soil. In addition, they only irrigate when absolutely necessary, and reusing water from other areas of the resort is the key to future planning.
“The long-term strategy is to build facilities, so that through various processes we can recycle water that is adequate for irrigating the courses, and therefore not have to rely on the aquifers that run beneath us.”
The Ria Formosa nature reserve stretches 60km across the Algarve’s leeward coast. Its unique eco-system of fresh and saltwater lagoons, salt marshes, reefs and barrier islands is home to a vast diversity of wildlife. Within the golfing environment of Quinta do Lago (that also includes many ‘watering holes’) great care is taken to work with the national park authority and even local wildlife rehabilitation centres.
“Lots of wild animals that get injured and go for rehabilitation are later adopted by Quinta do Lago and then reintroduced into our golf courses and habitats that we’ve naturally created.”
There are also bug hotels, and bird and bat houses carefully positioned around the courses. And naturally, the lakes used for irrigating the golf courses are all suitable habitats for fish, frogs and various other species. It’s part of the responsibility that Paul believes all golf course managers should show in creating and improving habitats that sustain biodiversity.
“We’ve proven over the years here how we can increase the volume and population of these native species in the Algarve.”
It’s all in a day’s work for Paul and his 70-strong team at this premier golfing destination. However, he is quick to acknowledge that the support of a strong dealer network is essential when it comes to grounds maintenance of the highest standards. He cites the rapid dealer response to an urgent requirement at Quinta do Lago that really made a difference in terms of keeping the course open.”
“At 7am I got a call from our local dealer to say, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get you more tractors’. It was that kind of service that really cemented our relationship – that’s what sets one brand apart from another.”