Par-fect! Golf course designer from Sidmouth sees his creation listed among world’s best

Chris Powell with his golf coures design. Ref shs 49 17TI 4535. Picture: Terry Ife

Chris Powell with his golf coures design. Ref shs 49 17TI 4535. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth golf course designer’s stroke of genius has seen one of his creations named among the best in the world.

Chris Powell’s vision for the Vidago Palace golf course in Portugal was listed as one the world’s eight most beautiful golf courses by US style magazine Architectural Digest.

The 68-year-old had never set foot on a golf course until he joined the industry 30 years ago.

He loves the sport and used his experience in construction to start a business with his late friend and business partner, Bob Cameron, who was a professional golfer in the 1970s.

They worked together in Azores, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Faroe Islands and the Ukraine - but Bob suffered a heart attack and died on the Vidago Palace before its completion.

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Chris said it has been ‘lovely feeling’ for their work to be recognised.

He and Bob began working on Vidago Palace in 2007 as part of the hotel’s plans to create an international standard 18-hole golf course. Its original course,created in 1936, had nine holes and measured 1,986 metres. Following a remodelling of the site and the creation of 12 new holes, the site measure 6,308 metres.

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Chris, who retired to Sidmouth three years ago with wife Valerie, said 90 per cent of the design was luck and depended on the location.

He said: “All of the top golf courses are just beautiful places, but it’s not quite as simple as that - there is the technical aspect, creating new features and putting in as many different levels of play to give everybody a chance of playing the golf course.

“I can visualise it on paper and Bob could say that’s going to work. It really is a technical exercise and about making something fit into a specific space. I love everything about the game, but I never enjoyed playing it.”

It is not the first time the duo’s designs have been a big hit with critics; they were previously endorsed for their work on the Furnas Golf Course in the Azores. The course was rated joint best golf course in Spain and Portugal by the Pocket Guide to Golf Courses and number two in Portugal by the renowned US golf magazine Golf Digest.

Chris added: “You want a great course that makes you want to keep playing and improve. You want people to keep coming back and playing.”

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