Posts Tagged ‘Portugal Golf Course’

Golfing in Vilamoura – Part Two…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalIn the first of our two articles on ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’, we talked about our visits to The Laguna and The Millennium.

In this second of our two ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’ articles, now read about our visit to the world-renowned Vale do Lobo’s The Royal and The Ocean courses...

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – Vale Do Lobo – The Clubhouse…

You know on your way into the resort that you are approaching one of Europe’s premier golf destinations.
On arrival at The Clubhouse, pleasant and friendly staff immediately showed us to the Golf reception – an area that gives you an indication of your experience for the day.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalThat is where we met Daniel who has worked at the resort for 12 years.

Something not unusual among the staff here, as we find out.
In fact, many of the staff have been here for over 10 years which suggests it’s a well-run place.
On sharing a coffee in the Players lounge, Dan explains to us that the whole resort, including the two-courses, is roughly the size of Monaco.
Having worked in marketing for some 25+ years, I conclude (given the audience they wish to attract) this is a superb way to promote themselves. Especially if you want to appeal to the European golfers with a high disposable income.
Looking out from the lounge, we have a beautiful view of both the Putting Green and the Grandstand, which gives the place a very grand feel.
However, this theme continues as we take a tour of the facilities.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

They have it all covered here including a Private lounge for members, a Spa, an 8-bay driving bay (which is due for a refurb), a gym, snooker area and a yoga studio.
All surrounded by beautiful shady areas, cobbled paths, an outside bar area, scenic views across the sea – somewhere we return to after our round.
The changing room is large, trendy and immaculately clean, as you would expect from a high-end resort.
Dan goes on to tell me that whilst the membership is not cheap at 5,000 euros a year, there are a good 200+ members.
Both the corporate members and tourist day-trippers keep the place very busy.
If you’re going to visit Vale do Lobo, make sure you make a full day of it, enjoy the surroundings, the ambience and the friendly staff.
Give your self plenty of time to enjoy the views – and I haven’t even mentioned the golf yet…

Golfing in Vilamoura – Vale Do Lobo –  The Courses –  The Royal Course…

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

So, I guess all golfers with a number of years of playing under their belt have a ‘bucket list’ of courses they want to play.

Having heard about the famous 16th, Par 3, from many friends, ‘The Royal’ was one golf course I’ve wanted to play for a while.

However, to focus solely on this hole would do the rest of the course a disservice.
The course starts with some very straight but pretty holes, enclosed by whitewashed villas and I immediately felt at home and encouraged by what was to come.
The fairways are clean, soft and well maintained as you would expect and it’s a pleasure to be playing on firm fairways again (we really do have to put up with a lot back in ‘Blightly’ with its wet, damp and cold conditions) and I feel I will save a few shots today because of it! (I didn’t!)
The course is very walkable, despite some big inclines and declines, but there’s always a shady area close by under which to cool down.
The stand out hole on the front nine is definitely the 7th hole – 140 yards, 130 yards carry over water (see below) to a slightly sloping green.
Despite a pretty ropey scorecard up to this point, I just make it over and scramble a par, so I am happy!
This is quickly followed by another carry over water on the 150 yards, Par 3, ninth hole. Alas, here I was not so lucky. Splosh!
Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalSo, on to the back nine. More picturesque and with a more varied hole layout, the course now gets more interesting.
I won’t talk about each hole but I will say it’s beautiful, pretty tree-lined fairways and immaculate greens all run quickly.
And as we approach the sea and the Par 3, 16th signature hole, you really do feel you’re playing Millionaire’s golf!
At this point I must commend the club, as they run a ten-minute tee system, meaning we saw hardly any other golfers until the 17th hole.
If I had any criticism with the course at all, I would say some of the tee boxes could be flatter in places… but now I am picking ‘holes’.
This is both a well managed and beautifully presented golf resort, and they couldn’t have been more courteous to us.
I will definitely return here.

18 holes – Cost = Approx 100 euros


Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

Golfing in Vilamoura – The Courses – Vale Do Lobo – Ocean Course…

Now sadly, this is when I turn to my fellow TSGers for their feedback on the second (and less well-known) course, The Ocean, as I had to head for the airport.

The Ocean Course is composed of the two original 9-hole golf courses designed by Sir Henry Cotton.

The Course features undulating fairways which run alongside a nature reserve, before leading gently down to the shores of the Atlantic.

Its stand out holes are two very testing and spectacular Par 4s – the 11th and the 14th, as well as the Par 3 15th which runs alongside the beach.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalBeing much newer, this course is more of a challenge, as everyone we spoke to told us… it is a very ‘technical’ course to play.
I took this to mean longer, more bunkers, more wind and faster greens and they were right.
However, both the team reported back having enjoyed another sunny day on the fairways and in the bar (see picture) and having enjoyed the course hugely.
The good news is, I know I will be returning to the area again soon, so I will make the effort to revisit this Mecca of golf.

18 holes – Cost = Approx. 100 euros


 

By Ian Mullins

Missed Part 1 of our article on ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’ – see below

Golfing in Vilamoura – Part One…

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

In the first of two articles under the heading of ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’, we visited the renowned Algarve region of Portugal for four days.

We visited four golf courses including the world-famous, Vale de Lobo and two other local courses, The Laguna and The Millenium.


Golfing in Vilamoura – Getting There:

As with all golf In The Algarve, you will probably be flying using either one of the low-cost airlines or via BA or a Portuguese airline.

My travel partners flew with EasyJet without any hassle, while I was charged £55 by Ryanair for not printing my boarding pass and not checking-in more than two hours prior to my flight. Seriously!

However, my mood quickly lifted when I arrived at Faro airport.

As I was golfing in Vilamoura for the first time, I decided to try Uber rather than a traditional transfer service. 

Having been quoted 36 euros for a pick-up and drive to Vilamoura, I was very impressed to only pay 21 Euros and Jose was so helpful and polite.

For the four day trip, we never paid more than 4 euros to get anywhere in the area.

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – Accommodation/Room:

Laguna Resort apartments are walking distance from The Dom Pedro courses Including The Laguna, The Millennium and The Victoria (which was host to the Portuguese Masters in Autumn of 2019.)

Often on a golf trip, your priority is to pay as little as possible for your accommodation in order to afford more golf.

However, we couldn’t have been more impressed with our apartment chosen by golf specialist and TSG travel partner – Golf Escapes.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the layout and decor, twin balcony and two bathrooms, made this as good an apartment as I’ve had the pleasure of staying in, anywhere.

On a golf course or not….including Rocco Forte 5star golf complex in Sicily!

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – Laguna Clubhouse:

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

Having caught the early flight from Stansted, not wanting to waste any time, we headed for the Laguna resort which is home to the above mentioned, Millennium and Laguna courses.

The clubhouse and shop are large and clean and the changing rooms, while not as stunning as Vale De Lobo (see next month’s March newsletter for review), is still a step up from your average UK Clubhouse.

There is a large patio area overlooking four holes and they offer both reasonably priced and very tasty sandwiches as well as a full a la Carte menu.

As you know, with any club in Spain or Portugal, there is always a senior golf pro on hand to chat to, who can tell you the history of the place.

And it was here I met ‘Joaquin’, who was quick to ask where we were from and how long we were staying. He shared his stories of playing in the UK in his early years.

He was also keen to show me some of his vintage golf magazine from the ’80s.

I think Senhor Catarina would have happily talked all day but alas, I was due on the tee in 3 mins.

As much as I wanted to chat more, I really wanted to play.

However, I didn’t miss the opportunity to tell him about The Social Golfer Family but I fear the concept did not translate well.

The younger (much younger) staff member listening to our conversation, got it immediately “ah, so it’s like Tinder for golfers”, “not quite” I quickly retorted…but he had a point!!

 


Golfing in Vilamoura – The Courses – Millennium:

We opted to play the newest course, The Millennium, on our first day.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalWe had been advised it was flat and a good way to break yourself into a four-day tour.

Wow! I loved this course. With gentle undulation, playable fairways and although narrow for many courses in the Algarve, it was more forgiving than most of England’s courses.

This is the newer of the two courses – it was immaculate.

Dry fairways, fine grass, a plethora of shady areas and not a single pitch mark to be found on any green until the 17th hole.

The greenkeepers should be warmly applauded for preparing this course so well.

Note, the greens here are ‘lightning-fast’, so be prepared to three-putt a lot until you’ve been here a few days.

My only criticism would be that some of the tee boxes are not entirely flat, so place your tee peg wisely.

That said, each hole is very different and you would have to play this track many times before you got bored.

We teed off at 2pm (walking) and were finished by 6pm (sunset in February).

I will definitely return here.

18 holes – Cost = 71 euros


Golfing in Vilamoura – The Courses – Laguna:

On returning to The Clubhouse on day two, we choose to play late morning at 11am on Laguna.

The temperature was 19c, there was a cool breeze, but the strong sunshine still meant the need for sunscreen.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

Yet by 3.30pm I was pulling on a light jumper e.g perfect golf weather.

This course, despite being less distance on the card than the Millennium and with shorter distances between holes, it’s less forgiving, so took 40 minutes more to play.

One thing I do like here is the club’s insistence on how long you should take to go round. Something many clubs in the UK should adopt.

I know this a constant bone of contention all around the world but IMHO, it’s just considerate and good manners to keep up the pace of play.

If you’re holding up the groups behind, let them through.

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, Portugal

 

But back to the golf…

The Laguna (as the name suggests) is the ‘water’ course. I think it comes into play on at least seven holes, maybe more.

Beautiful open fairways, well-maintained greens (again, very few ‘pitch marks’ to be found here).

Whilst I didn’t find the greens quite as quick as the previous day, they were true.

Six one-putts on the front nine suggested I was getting the pace of the greens after a good night’s sleep.

18 holes – Cost = 85 euros

 


Food:

Golfing in Vilamoura, Laguna Resort, The Algarve, PortugalYou are never going to be short of choice for beautifully prepared, fresh and fragrant food in Portugal with seafood and steak in abundance.

One of the favourite places we visited was the Akvavit at Vilamoura Marina, run by a lovely Swedish lady.

Joining in with the theme, I was convinced to try the Rydberg steak, the dish is made up of cubed fillet steak, sautéed potato, in a bay leaf and onions sauce, with a raw egg yolk in the middle, yum.

Complimented with a light and sofa red wine from the Duora region.

However, the TSG best chef award goes to ‘O Jacatino’

This is a Portuguese family restaurant we frequented on our last evening, where you can sample home-cooked traditional Portuguese favourite, Cataplana (seafood stew).

While my travel partners enjoy this, I had the softest steak I’d tasted in ten years.

 


Six one-putts on the front nine suggested I was getting the pace of the greens after a good night’s sleep.

The Locals:

Having played golf in more than 12 countries now…

As such, I would probably say the Portuguese are up there with the best when it comes to making golfers feel welcome. 

They have both a gentle but passionate manner and are good-humoured.

They really do know how to do customer service too and we were made very welcome by everyone.

Especially the staff at The Laguna resort, who couldn’t do enough to help us enjoy our stay.

 


And Finally:

Is the Algarve still one of the most popular and tranquil places to play golf? Oh yes!

Is it expensive? Absolutely!

Will I be back for more, of course… I’m already thinking about where to play next year!

TSG VERDICT = 4.5 stars

 


By Ian Mullins

Look out for part 2 of our ‘Golfing in Vilamoura’ series in the TSG March Newsletter, including a review of both courses at Vale De Lobo…

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