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SOME days on the course remain vivid in your mind because of how well you played, others because of the quality of the course. Play well on a great course and the memory is indelible.

My visit to Monte Rei, a Jack Nicklaus Signature development on the eastern Algarve in Portugal, luckily for me falls into the latter category, but I could have played like the proverbial dog and still been blown away by the magnificence of the golfing experience.

This prestigious development, located between Vila Real de Santo António and Tavira, is built against a backdrop of captivating views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Serra do Caldeirão mountains and those of you looking to invest E900,000 upwards on a home on a golfing development would certainly be well advised to see what Monte Rei has to offer.

Landscaped with indigenous trees, shrubs and plants, more than 50 per cent of the development, including golf courses, will always be a protected green area. Four different types of property are for sale in the first phase: twin villas, linked villas, exclusive villa plots and luxury apartments. Full property management service and rental facilities will be available for all those buying villas and apartments, and a hotel style room service is planned for all properties should the owners wish to use it.

For those of us of more modest means and ambition, a single round at Monte Rei is an experience well worth an outlay of around £120 (prices may vary according to the time of year, so check with the club). The aim at Monte Rei was to create a golfing masterpiece and to complement  the excellence of the course with high quality levels of service off it.

To the latter end you will be greeted on arrival by staff who valet park your car, and clean your shoes and clubs before depositing them on a buggy.

Clubs and shoes are also cleaned after the round although chances are you will be so drunk with the memory of playing that you will scarcely notice their pristine condition.

My group was some way into our round until we realised that virtually every hole has been sculpted so that it has its own self-contained arena. Elevated tees on most of the holes are both aesthetically pleasing and an aid to assessing the hole's challenges – and challenges there are aplenty. However, the severity of challenge can be tailored by the availability of four tees which provide a variety of lengths to best suit the standard and ability level of all visitors to the club. The Tournament tees are recommended

for scratch to seven handicap, Championship tees for eight to 15, Signature tees for 16 to 23 and Forward tees for 24 and above.

Among the course's most eye-catching features are its bunkers, whose contours reminded me of the slow-moving wax to be found in the lava lamps of the Sixties and Seventies.

Their faces are brushed and their centres raked to give a two-tone effect, but perhaps their most pleasing facet is that the faces are very hard so when the ball hits them it invariably topples back to present a flat lie.

Such assistance is greatly appreciated because finding the right area to land the ball on severely undulating Bent Grass greens is a challenge in itself, but the surfaces are wonderfully true and if you can pick the right line you know the ball will not deviate off its course.

Six lakes further enhance the appeal of a course which is to gain a ‘brother' in a second championship standard course to the south of the development.

Monte Rei caters for more than just golfers, however, also offering a beach club, a fully equipped gym, tennis courts, water sports, a swimming pool and a sandy beach. Planned future developments include a spa complex, an equestrian centre, exclusive shops, a tennis complex and a luxury hotel.

Monte Rei, Portugal

Published: December 28, 2007

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For Monte Rei picture gallery click here