7 Nights, Bed & Breakfast, 4 Rounds of Golf
(Staying at Pinus Ria Hotel)
(1 x North Course, 2 x Royal Course, Vale do Lobo, 1 x Ocean Course, Vale do Lobo)
01/06/10 - 28/06/10 £485pp
01/09/10 - 28/09/10 £525pp
As its name implies, the Ocean Course provides attractive links-style holes adjacent to the Atlantic. There are parkland holes, too, meandering through the Vale do Lobo estate. The combination provides a challenging course for golfers of all handicaps. The opening hole demands already an accurate tee shot - always difficult when it's the first of the day. The lake on the right and trees to the left make this par 4 quite intimidating. The approach to an elevated green must also be precise.
The next few holes follow the contours of the land, with strategic hazards which must be carefully taken into consideration. The ninth is a difficult dog-leg with 'out of bounds' on the left and a large lake on the right. This 329- metre par 4 must be approached accurately because the green is tricky - on the slope and above the level of the fairway. On the tenth you need an accurate drive - much like the first hole - but the fairway is narrow. The water hazard may be attractive, but it still has to be negotiated! The green is two-tiered and well guarded, a tough start to the back nine. Needless to say, the approach shot is critical to the result.
The eleventh and fourteenth holes are challenging par 4's, with the greens set against a backdrop of white sand and the blue sea. Strategic bunker placements make for tricky approach shots. Along the beach, the par 3 fifteenth offers a tantalisingly large green, but there's 'out of bounds' to the left and sandy wastes all around. Not an easy tee shot.The closing hole of this attractive course remains a good example of the designer's art. A narrow entrance to a widening landing area from the tee. This is a par 5, and it climbs steadily to a tiered green that is small and hard to read. Making a par here is quite an achievement.
Originally designed by Sir Henry Cotton and containing the famous seventh hole, 'Rocky' Roquemore subsequently elaborated the original plans and laid out a wonderful test of golf.The opening holes are a soft introduction to some testing later ones. The part 4 sixth, for example, at 395 metres, has water on the left of the green and bunkers to the right. A good drive to a narrow landing area still requires a bold approach to the protected green.
The par 3 ninth (155 metres) features a near island green. However, Roquemore has set the tees in a wide arc in front of the picturesque lake, making club selection difficult. Alternatively, for those who prefer a more delicate approach, a safe passage exists to the right.The eleventh, a par 5 of 485 metres, is a good test. It is essential to get a good drive away because the second shot will be to a narrow landing area between a lake and a steep bank. Only from this point is it possible to expect a comfortable approach to a green protected to its left and in front by water.The sixteenth (formerly the seventh of the 'Yellow' course) is the spectacular par 3 of 205 metres across the red sandstone cliffs for which Vale do Lobo is famous. While there have been some minor changes here, nothing can detract from the sheer beauty of the hole.
Views from each of the tees are out along the length of the coastline westwards. And so to the last hole - don't lose concentration at this point! With a fairway sloping off to the right, it's advisable to drive to the left. However, the fairway is lined on both sides with pines which are constricting in the mind's eye. At 330 metres, this closing hole is not particularly long, but the green has raised banking to the left and the ground falls steeply away to the right. The approach shot must be committed and well positioned if you are to have the satisfaction of the ball remaining firmly on the green.