Fazio & Kidd Slated to Design Courses in Portugal

With the U.S. golf-development market still stagnant, more and more American architects have shifted their focus to projects overseas. The latest designers to do so are Tom Fazio and David McLay Kidd.

The duo has been hired to craft two 18-hole layouts on waterfront property along Portugal's Alentejo coast. The Espirito Santo family, the developer of the resort, called Herdade da Comporta, says that each course would be worthy of hosting a Ryder Cup.

The project will be built near the village of Comporta, about an hour's drive south of Lisbon. The property is sandy and bumpy and lends itself to golf courses. Portuguese golf officials plan to nominate Fazio's course, Comporta Links, to host the 2018 Ryder Cup.

"It's a pure sand site with big, rolling contours," says Brian Courcelle, a Fazio design associate. "It's hard to call it a links course because it's not really close enough to the sea, but the golf course won't have any trees, just areas of scrub, gorse, heather, and lavender."

Kidd's layout, Comporta Dunes, will occupy a hilly, 250-acre parcel a kilometer from the Atlantic Ocean, which is as close to the water as a course can be built in Portugal. The Scottish-born architect, who's now based in Bend, Ore., says that he's approached the design of his 7,600-yard course as if it were also a Ryder Cup venue.

"It's a fantastic site for golf," Kidd says of the course which, like Fazio's, will be open to the public. Construction on Kidd's course is expected to begin early this year. If Fazio's course is selected to host the Ryder Cup, work on it will also begin in 2011.

Herdade da Comporta (http://www.herdadedacomporta.pt) is being developed by Espirito Santo Group, a conglomerate that controls Portugal's second-largest bank, Banco Espirito Santo. The company owns several golf courses near Lisbon, including the 36-hole Ribagolfe complex and Quinta do Peru Golf & Country Club. It expects to open an "urban-style" course in the area soon and has others in planning.

The Espirito Santo family has owned the roughly 31,000-acre site in Comporta since 1955 and been working on Herdade da Comporta for the better part of a decade. (Work on Kidd's course was originally supposed to have begun in 2008.)

The family plans to build a pair of resorts about eight miles from each other. Besides the courses, the resorts will have single-family homes, villas, and condos, hotels and golf academies. All but 1,833 acres of the Herdade da Comporta property will remain as open space.

Kidd says Comporta Dunes will have "a great deal of open sand," resembling courses he's designed in Scotland, the Castle Course at St. Andrews and Machrihanish Dunes in Machrihanish, as well as the original course that he crafted at Bandon Dunes in Oregon.

Comporta Links, Fazio's first course in Europe, will occupy 350 acres and extend 7,867 yards from the tips. Fazio will co-design Comporta Links with Ross McMurray of Sunningdale, England-based European Golf Design. EGD is partly owned by the PGA European Tour, which will select the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup. Portugal will compete against France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain for the biennial matches, with the winner likely to be named in April 2011.