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.“
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.
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.
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.
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.
I cannot speak highly enough of Palmares. It has the truest links holes I've ever played outside of the UK, mixed with some great land movement and elevation change higher up the property. There are 3 nines which are all worth playing. The best is the one by the beach where all the links holes are, where you'll feel like you're playing Chambers Bay mixed with Castle Stuart. The other two nines are more parkland but still have lots of great holes.
The food is great in the clubhouse, so it's the perfect place to spend a whole day, and in my opinion, a far more memorable course than Monte Rei. Best course in the algrave for me
Played here a few times over the years and always enjoyed my rounds. I've played all three loops but find the Lagos and Praia preferable if you have only 18 holes to play. There are some wonderful elevation changes which will test your distance control as to what club to hit off the tee.
I've always found the fairways and turf to be excellent, the Praia stretch can get very links like (hard turf with the ball running) and late afternoon with the sun setting it provides a stunning setting. The greens are usually excellent. I like the club house setting and an ice cold beer after the round is most welcomed.
I would play Palmares every time I'm in the Algarve, it's a little out of the way but the drive here is well worth it. It's a stunning setting and very playable for all skill levels.
I played a round last week of November, very enjoyable, early bird special €75 including buggy. Staff very friendly, but there was a mix up where the lady said I could play as much golf as I wanted on the special leading me to book the early bird intending to play all 27 holes, but the starter told me this was wrong, it was only for 18 holes and besides, the Lagos course was closed for maintenance, not mentioned at all when I was booking. So, I played the beach (Praia) and Alvor 9's in lovely morning weather, a bit of wind got up by 10am. The beach 9 is clearly the highlight, with 4 lovely links style holes, followed by 2 weak par 4's which would otherwise merit this 9 holes getting 5 stars. The Alvor is more of a hilly mountain course, great variety and a good test, without the wow factor of the beachside holes. A buggy would be preferable, but not essential, for this 9, not needed at all for the beach 9. The courses and greens were in very good condition unlike some reviews posted in October-maybe the winter rain has helped. There is also good variety of length on the holes so you get to use a lot of your clubs. Overall I give it 4 stars but would give 4.5 if an option, my only gripe would be that with regular green fees exceeding €100, like the rest of the Algarve golf courses, it is normally overpriced.
Really enjoyed this track. Some amazing scenery. Played 18 then lunch then the final 9. (June 17) which was a good way to sample all the courses. They are varied and will definitely return.
We played this one yesterday and it is unfair but the review will also carry a lot of details about lack of service, not helpful crew, missing clubs and things that would make me not willing to come back.
I am first going to give a review of the course and the fair result is that I loved it! Some links golf from holes 17-26 and some change levels with sea views which made it extremely enjoyable and fun to play!
We started in Lagos with 2 nice downhill par 4s before an amazing short par 3 with a lake in front. Par 5 13th is a huge dogleg right where if you go for it then it is over trees and danger. 15th is an amazing downhill par 5 where the green is one of the toughest we played so far, with a ridge dividing it in 2. Par 5 17th is a nice links hole where wind started to blow. Uphill 18th to a well protected green looks like a nice finale when playing Alvor. Then 19th is a downhill dogleg where if you go over the trees you can get very close to the green. Par 5s 20th and 22nd are very nice links holes to very well protected greens, while short 21st can give you a lot of work if not close to the pin. Par 3 23rd has a 100yds long tee in zig zag where you can really choose the hole to play! Then 2 short par 4s where you can hit the green before very short 26th and the great par 5 27th uphill to a very well protected green. The combination we played had 6 par 3s-4s-5s and it was very fun in a sunny day and with amazing views of the Ocean.
Now the bad part, which you really need to know if you are thinking in coming:
- Crew was extremely unhelpful, in all other courses there is always somebody willing to help.
- Driving Range was not correctly operated and many of the group were not able to use it, with again little help from Crew.
- Yardage books are extremely necessary if you don't use Arccos Golf or something with drawings of the holes. Nobody offered them and they were not well shown in the very little and simple proshop.
- In many of the tees you have "ball sellers", bags with 10 balls alone standing there and nobody seems to take care of them, but the real thing is the place is a protected area and anybody can walk in and there you have these guys, nobody warned us about them and we were stolen a Club where nobody from the Course assumed the responsability of we not being warned about these guys.
- Bar crew also very poor and with lack of interest for us.
It is a shame that such a good course is so badly operated. It is worth the play, but take extreme care of your stuff and buy the yardage book ... If they happen to offer it!
Great review, totally agree that the golf course is let down by the staff in all areas! I’m not sure that anybody on the site understands how to treat a ‘customer’ and the culture is completely different from other clubs in the Algarve and may put me off returning in the future... even though the course is excellent (Although bad condition in areas)
I found there just a few too many filler holes in this combination for it to warrant the highest ratings. Although some of the Praia holes are spectacular some of the Lagos nine are repetitive and exist only to reach the better holes. Also the overall conditioning of the course (even though it was March) was a little below the standard I'd expected from other quality Algarve courses.
Now, in say that, I'd still be happy to go back and play again. Plus, for a golfer, the Algarve region is a lovely part of the world. My non-golfing partner loved it too.