Palmares (Praia & Lagos) - Algarve - Portugal

Palmares Ocean Living & Golf,
Campo de Golfe de Palmares,
8600-250 Odiáxere,
Lagos,
Portugal


  • +351 282 790 500

Palmares is billed as the golfing “jewel in the crown of the Algarve” and it’s certainly an eclectic Frank Pennink-designed course, which opened in 1975, with distinct flavours.

Sited above and along the Atlantic coast close to the Meia Praia beach, Palmares has a collection of links-like holes and park-like holes. Not only is the golf good and varied but also Palmares has some of the best views available from any Portuguese golf course.

“Palmares blends easily into its rural seaside environement, offering wonderful vistas of the coastline around the Bay of Lagos and, from the higher ground, the mountains of the Monchique inland.” Wrote Michael Gedye in his Golfer’s Guide Portugal. “The location presented Pennink with a unique situation – a hilltop dotted with flowering shrubs, almond and acacia trees, cascading down to a sandy stretch of linksland with dunes bordering the sea. He gasped at the challenge of combining links with parkland golf and produced a truly interesting course of wide variety that never ceases to charm and challenge. The spectacular views come as a natural bonus.”

Robert Trent Jones Jnr upgraded Palmares in 2010, dividing the property into three nines, “Lagos,” “Praia” and “Alvor”. Four holes on the Praia nine (two pretty par threes and two tough par fives) run along the shoreline and the second last greensite on this circuit is shared with the penultimate hole on the Lagos nine (where the only two water holes on the complex are featured).

The Alvor nine occupies the more hilly terrain at Palmares. The opening trio of holes on this loop sit on the least appealing part of the property, followed by three fairways that are laid out across a road in a lovely valley. After playing a fine par three near the water’s edge, the final two holes face directly uphill to the clubhouse.

Commenting on the Palmares project, Robert Trent Jones II: “Palmares Golf Course is special on so many levels. The expansive ocean vistas, dramatic elevation changes, quintessential Mediterranean intimate valleys, and expansive dunes land have blessed us with the environment to craft a golf course with an enormous depth of character and challenge.“

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Reviews for Palmares (Praia & Lagos)

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Description: Palmares is billed as the golfing “jewel in the crown of the Algarve” and it’s certainly an eclectic golf course, which originally opened in 1975, with distinct flavours. Rating: 7.4 out of 10 Reviews: 32
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Paul Howard

This will be my second review of Palmares but alas I have now played the Lagos and Praia and can at least comment… Firstly the Praia loop needs to introduction. I actually played here some 30 plus years ago as a child. It would have been €15 euros in todays currency. Praia hasn’t really changed and holes 2 to 7 are just so special. Then you play hole 8 with its double green that shares with the Lagos loop. I think they may well be my favourite holes on the Algarve.

Lagos is very much different. I’m typing this torn as to whether I liked the holes or not? The par 3 3rd hole for instance just looked disappointing when there was an opportunity to put a green against a pond? But then you play the par 5 8th hole with its wonderful views and you like it again! Likewise I enjoyed the dogleg par 5 and the next par 3 was good… but then you play another par 5 where if you make it over the hill you are faced with a medium iron. It’s just very much hit n miss.

What was clear today is just how badly the dry weather has affected the course. Granted the bone hard fairways suit the Praia loop. Yet we found those fairways greener than the Lagos ones (see images). I was also disappointed with the service. “Here’s your buggy numbers, go and collect them…” I know it’s not a Monte Rei service here but maybe they might consider doing that little bit more. Buggy’s also now appear the norm here. Some of the walks between the holes on the Lagos loop merited it and then you have a steward checking on your speed of play.

I have no doubt if you played the Praia loop twice you’d award the course the 5 1/2 out of 6. Alas I’m at a 4 today.

September 09, 2022
6 / 10
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Ian Billcliff

This review is for Praia (19-27) and Alvor (1-9), played on 31st July 2022. Good first impression with excellent service from reception and caddy master with buggy and hire clubs ready to go from ordering the day before. Played Praia nine first with interesting first par 4 hole dog-legging to right down a steep hill. Following that you cross under a railway to play two par 5s and two 3s close to the sea. This land is fairly dune like. Crossing back over the railway, holes 24 and 25 are carbon copy short par 4s, then a short 3 and finally back up the hill. I was distinctly underwhelmed by this 9, the layout was uninspiring with similar par 5s, 4s and 3s. Only 19 and 27 were interesting imo.

Alvor course was a much more varied, hilly and interesting layout among the pines and more typical of Algarve golf. Great views of the Monchique mountains and the sea. There are many high tees driving down, which always makes a good visual impression of a hole. The only downer was some hideous new apartments being built up by the 9th green, which detracted from the lovely vistas. On finishing I mentioned my disappointment of the Praia course to the Caddy master who agreed that it was the weakest 9. Wish I'd played 1-18 instead.

Had this course been in ok condition I would rate it a 3.5 but the fairways were diabolical throughout. They don't look like they've seen water in months and the grass is virtually dead with no green spots. This leads to lots of poor lies off dusty/sandy bare earth in the middle of fairways. I don't know if there is some sort of water conservation project meaning they don't water fairways or just can't be bothered but it detracts greatly from the enjoyment. Greens were decent and pretty quick and tees were ok too.

I would not play here again based on the poor conditioning and would not play the Praia 9 period due to imo it's tedious design.

August 15, 2022
3 / 10
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Nicholas Kjelgaard
August 16, 2022

It’s a shame you didn’t get to play the other 9 as from what I remember it was the best 9. In fact the 1st hole on that 9 features in “1001 golf holes you must play before you die”

In regards to the dryness I think they need to be cut some slack, the Algarve is having one of, if not the driest year on record. Having just returned myself I understand that controls are in place to ensure that there is enough water for peoples houses. They need a very very wet winter or it will get worse.

Ian Billcliff
August 16, 2022

Nicholas, agreed golf courses are not the priority for water. My comments are purely based on the state of the course to set expectations for other golfers. Perhaps courses should close some of the holes to keep 18 in semi decent condition or offer discounts based on the state of the fairways during v dry periods?

Richard Lobb

I had not visited here since it became 27 holes but had heard good reports about it so took the opportunity to play two of the three combinations.

On arriving I was struck by the new constructions taking place and the superb location of the new club house.

It was extremely busy with one combination taken up by the Algarve Pro Tour, this is an indication of the quality of the golf courses on offer. They playing surfaces were excellent with the greens the best I played over the two weeks we were there. The layouts are different with those by the sea very links but you could see they lacked water, this reflected in the fairways being difficult to play off, if in the semi/rough like playing from areas of sand waste.

The holes are varied interesting and different.

The other loops are different and circle the hill giving spectacular views, they are well designed, a pleasure to play.

For me holes 1-18 are the combination to play if you only have one round.

This is a very busy course as they utilise all combinations to full capacity and as a result playing later play can be slow.

With the new hotel to be built, and further villas and apartments it can only get busier.

Well worth a play if in the area.

March 06, 2022
7 / 10
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Jim McCann

Almost six years after I last played here, I returned two weeks ago to find myself asking the same question I posed back at the start of 2016: “What’s the best 18-hole combination at Palmares?”

The club certainly list the Alvor nine as holes 1 to 9 and the Lagos nine as holes 10 to 18 on the scorecard and I’m now inclined to agree that they form the best 18-hole option, especially as I only gave top marks to the first and last holes (which connect the links holes to the higher ground) on the shorter Praia nine.

I thought all three par threes on the Praia’s coastal stretch were rather insipid, and probably the weakest of all twenty-seven holes on the property . Still, if you get the chance, you should play all three nines then by all means tell me I’m wrong – it won’t be the first time should that happen!

The Madrid-based owners Kronos Homes have built an enormous new clubhouse overlooking the course and another hotel is planned to open in the near future, complementing the boutique hotel that’s already in operation. For sure, developments are moving on at a pace at Palmares.

Kronos also operate the golf facility at Amendoeira, a 30-minute drive away towards Faro. Do yourself a favour and check out the Faldo course there – I thought it was absolutely awesome!

Jim McCann

December 12, 2021
7 / 10
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Paul Howard

I last played Palmares in the late eighties, as a young kid whilst on holiday with my Mother and Father. It was just 18 holes in those days. The internet hadn’t been invited and it was in a time when word of mouth was how information was passed. In those days the clubhouse (it still exists) was just a shack and very few had heard of it, let alone had played it.

So over 30 years on and I tried to play the Praia and Lagos loops but was instead given the Praia & Alvor courses. This was the last course of our week here and took us an hour from our base in Vilamoura.

The old country track leading to the club was just how I recalled. Except once through the gates those familiarities come to an end. For this is no longer a golf course where a few Escudos got you on but a major establishment in the Algarve Golfing World. Plots of land on the resort now sell for around one million euros. The new clubhouse is an architectural masterpiece. The masses now flock, raking up every tee time and buggies to the point they’ve built an underground car park.

What hasn’t changed are the incredible views of Lagos and Portimao. I was fortunate to have been playing later on so back in the cathedral of a clubhouse I watched the sunset from the patio. For no matter what else you’ll need to pay for here, the romantic views and setting will be forever free.

We tees off on the 19th hole or tge 1st of the Praia. A gentle par 4 took us down before crossing over onto the iconic 4 holes of 2 par 5s and 2 par 3s. This is almost a classic links setting with Sandy lies and whispy grass lining the fairways. They are also the most amazing of golf holes. One tip I will provide is don’t go to the right of the 4th tee to look at the fairway. For to the right is a nudist beach that makes even the hardest of golfer cringe. These 2 par 5s run in opposite directions so inevitably one is down wind.

You then cross back over and play some pleasant and strategic par 4s before another par 3 and par 5 to finish giving you an equal split of three of each par.

I came off the loop totally in love again. It brought me back to my childhood. It truly is a fabulous set of holes. The greens are very tricky with humps and borrows an avid author would find difficult to write into a novel. I certainly found myself on the wrong part of a green a couple of times and it takes a talent to come away with pars.

This 9 holes is unique from most courses I’ve seen on the Algarve. It feels unspoilt and built naturally into the terrain. What I would also say is that it’s so unmanicured. The fairways are bare. The bunkers are not looked after. The tees don’t appear to be cut straight. It’s virtually perfect! For you couldn’t have this any other way. It simply wasn’t designed that way. Yes, for sure, at the side of the 3rd is a wall littered with graffiti, that somehow shouldn’t be on a golf course but the rest is spot on. It felt more like a Kiawah Island where the bunkers just happened to be there rather than having been created.

Once again coming off the 27th or 9th hole of Praia you’ll turn around and have one more look of the view. You’ll want to return to see it again.

I did then play holes 1 to 9 of the Alvor course. This again was a lovely course but totally different to the Praia loop. The views at times were equally good and the greens caused as much havoc as it’s sister. I’d certainly play it again. The bunkers in a way are similar in that they aren’t manicured and you’ll find yourself up and down the hill on which it is set on.

All in all I would really recommend playing Palmares. It’s not an easy course and playing with my elderly Father some of the carries off the tee proved a bit too far. They are developing this continually so I’m sure when I return they’ll have far more villas and hotels looking over the course. As long as they don’t try and build anything near the nudist beach, I’m sure it’ll stay just fine.

September 26, 2021
8 / 10
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Will Ross

Played Palmares twice in May 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's unlike a lot of the other algarve courses and has a more links type feel to proceedings. There are some spectacular views on show and a lot of elevation changes which was great. We were able to play all 3 sets of 9 and I would say that the Alvor is slightly underwhelming so given the choice I'd definitely recommend the Praia & Lagos 9's. The condition of the course is holding it back from a slightly higher score, the greens weren't in the best shape and a bit on the slow side, as well as the bunkers looking a little bit tardy. I would choose a Quinta Do Lago or Dom Pedro course over this, however was most enjoyable nonetheless.

September 20, 2021
7 / 10
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David Davis

I just played Palmares for the first time during my post zombie apocalypse golf tour of the Algarve. What a contrast it has to the other courses up and down the coast. A definite mix of character between parkland and links. The Lagos 9, starts high up near the club house and works its way down the hill to sea level. The par 5, 2nd plays down the hill with the tee shot giving you the feeling you could hit it forever. You’ll need to land your approach well short of the green if going for this one in two as the firm conditioning will otherwise get you in trouble. The 3rd is a par 3 playing over one of the only small lakes on the property and is a challenging hole in the wind playing about 160 meters over water. The holes then work their way back up and over dunes providing some beautiful vistas.

The par 3 5th might require a driver at 226 meters to the middle but a short miss allows for a straightforward chip in case you were worried about going long ha ha.

The highlight of this 9 hole loop for me was the tee shot on the 8th hole (which actually if I’m not mistaken is #17 on their numbering which goes from 1 to 27 over the 3 different loops). This tee shot not only affords the best view on the course but also is a lovely strategic cut off what you can chew par 5. A perfect tee shot cuts the corner as much as possible on this dogleg right. I’m not sure if we had the prevailing wind but the tee shot was into a strong right to left wind and the approach was straight into the wind tunnel. It was a quite challenging to pick the right line and definitely a gettable par 5.

The second nine – hole 19 starts not too dissimilar to the front 9 with a downhill dogleg right. This one has more option to cut the corner however. I thought I might of overdone it but found my ball in the middle of the fairway about 40 yds shy of the green. From this point on the course really took on a links character. The holes on the seaside of the railroad tracks are all solid links holes completely open to the elements. The par 5 22nd hole was reachable on the day with the prevailing wind helping from left to right. However, the par 3 23rd played straight back into this 3 club wind from 200 meters out and was full carry to reach ¾ of the green.

Back over the tracks were two very short typical links like par 4’s both playing around 300 meters long and straight into the wind. The 2nd of these I found a much better hole as the first had some strange mounding in the middle full of grass that felt slightly weird upon my single visit there.

The par 3, 26th (or 17th depending on which numbering you choose to use) was an excellent little par 3 playing right into the teeth of the wind with a tricky raised green with a bunker/waste area short and right running right up to the front.

All in all, Palmares is a fun course with some exceptional golf holes. It’s tough to determine how much of it are remnants of Pennink’s original design but the current marketing suggests RTJ Jr has redone everything and no holes are the same as the original layout. There is a lot of variety here, beautiful views, contract between links and parkland holes and it requires a variety of shots on this windy site. What more could you ask for? Sunshine, but they have that covered as well.

December 28, 2020
6 / 10
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XAVIER ROQUETA

Very fun golf course, some links type holes. If you are in the West Algarve you have to go.

Poor clubhouse. It seems provisional. Unfriendly and unhelpful staff. Only the starter was correct.

November 02, 2020
8 / 10
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Stuart Cunningham

I played at Palmeres 2 years ago as part of a 5 day break to Lagos with my wife. The course has 2 distinct 9s (Parkland and Links) both are very well presented and offer great golf shot making opportunities. Well worth a visit.

July 12, 2020
7 / 10
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Adam

Absolutely outstanding. The mixture of parkland and links golf really does leave you having to adapt your game to the conditions. The parkland stretch between 1 and 10 and 15 to 18 provides frequent elevation changes to make club selection tricky. The links portion completely opens up to the wind, with the breeze seemingly helping one way and then slowing everything down on the other. The beauty is that the links portion feels as though it elevates an already superb experience, rather than simply offering a good stretch of holes in an average course. And all for under 100 euros. A must play if you're in the Algarve.

Best Hole: 11- A reachable par 5 which typically plays downwind. At first glance nothing special but the drive encourages the second shot to reach the green in 2. This is blind shot over fescue with a bunker at the side of green looking to grab anything that tries to play too safe. To be honest any of the links holes are candidates here.

July 11, 2020
10 / 10
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