The Laranjal course is the new kid on the block at Quinta do Lago and the reputation of their third course already is growing. The course is routed through orange groves – which is where the name Laranjal was derived – opening for play in February 2009 and designed by Portuguese architect Jorge Santana da Silva.
Peter nominated Laranjal as a gem in November 2009… “I went with a group of lads with quite a wide spread of handicaps and everyone enjoyed Laranjal to the full. Course design 7.5/10, service 8/10, maintenance 9/10, value 7/10… You could play a course which would challenge you more like Monte Rei but the Laranjal was very good.”
Unusually, this new Quina do Lago layout is configured with five par fives, eight par fours and five par threes. The extra three-shot and one-shot holes provide a subtle change in balance to the many 4-4-10 configurations that are so prevalent across the world. We like Jorge Santana da Silva’s style and hope more architects consider his different approach.
There’s a totally different vibe playing the Laranjal compared to either the South or the North. For a start, it’s located a 10-minute drive away from the other two layouts, there are no houses around the perimeter, small portions of orange grove trees have been retained on the property, and the small clubhouse has a lovely, intimate members’ club feel to it – no wonder it was so busy when I played there a couple of weeks ago now!
Maintained to the same impeccable standards as its two stablemates, the Laranjal is laid out as two returning nines (the order of play has recently been reversed) on a compact 115-acre site with plenty of width on the fairways to keep the pace of play at a reasonable four hours for a four-ball over eighteen holes. There are a few water hazards to negotiate, however, so you might not finish with the ball you start out with.
On the front nine, I liked the short par four 4th, where a ditch crosses the fairway before an uphill second shot is played to the green, and the par five 7th is well worth its stroke index 1 rating, playing from a raised tee platform to a fairway with water to the right on landing then water to the left of the green for the approach shot.
The back nine starts with the 10th hole running the length of an orange grove to the left of the fairway and this citrus theme continues for the next few holes before we climb to slightly higher ground on the other side of the little valley at the par four 14th and turn for home, with the next three holes routed along the eastern edge of the estate. I also liked the uphill short par four 17th with acres of sand in front of the green but the final hole (doglegging left around a couple of ponds) was, for me, one of the weaker holes on the card.
Nonetheless, I told a couple of people I was playing here before I left home and they both said I’d really enjoy playing here – they weren’t wrong, but I still prefer the South by some distance…
It was great to be back on the Algarve this past week and return to a few favourite courses.
Laranjal, was the first of three Quinta do Lago courses we played. This is a terrific course located a few kilometres from the it's more glamorous stable mates. The practice facilities are an improvement on the aforementioned North and South and the staff are extremely welcoming.
The course features mostly wide fairways with the real difficulties starting with the approach shots into sloping greens that are well protected by plenty of bunkers. Overall the course was in pristine condition which seemed to suit the longer hitters due to the nature of the greens. You really have to be accurate as missing greens or even getting in the wrong side of the hole invariably leads to difficult chips or nerve racking putts! I notice the course has been climbing up the rankings which to my mind is totally deserved as it never fails to impress.
This is the second time I’ve played Quinta Do Lago’s Laranjal Course. I was already in love with it before I met her again. She certainly threw a twist in though, this time, in that her back and front nine holes have switched places. With the old 9th hole now the 18th and bringing you back to the clubhouse, the finish is unforgettable.
Firstly, let me address the practice facilities. Across the road from the course lies the most amazing little area. Honestly I could have stayed there all day.
The first starts you with a gentle downhill par 4 with water on the side of the green. The slope runs down towards the water. It’s a great way to start. Then it’s par 3 with a green the length of a football pitch meaning it’s anything from an 8 iron to a 5 iron. Some par 4s follow each taking you along some gentle hills in differing directions before the Par 3 6th hole. Then it’s the magnificent Par 5 7th hole with its water right off the tee, middle for the 2nd and front and left of the green ensuring only the very longest and bravest would consider going for her. An unmemorable par 3 and standard Par 5 bring you home.
The back nine starts with a straight forward par 4 before a tricky short par 4 where, from playing from the back tee the choice is whether to carry the bunkers from the tee or not? Another par 3 where pin position dictates the difficulty followed by a Par 5, Par 4 and another Par 5 start bringing you in.
You are then faced with a long par 3 where anything left actually pulls you back onto the green. The short 17th is kind before the brilliant and inevitably short Par 5 finishing hole across yet more water from the tee and green dictates whether you are brave enough to attempt a long to mid iron in or if you’ll lay up?
What doesn’t get mentioned in those paragraphs is this isn’t a tough course if you can get club selection right in terms of the pin positions. Knowing the yardage is key, for the greens are her main defence. So often I found myself facing treacherous putts across or over mounds and slopes after miss clubbing. If I missed a green on the wrong side I had no shot left. The greens truly make this harder than the length suggests it should be.
Condition wise I described it as perfection. I didn’t have to search for a ball when I missed a fairway and ended in the pines or bark chippings. The trees sought the punishment rather than 3ft of rough. I don’t recall seeing a divot, the fairways where like carpets. The bunkers were regimented in sand depth and trimmed with the finest of margins.
What is also nice, unlike so many other courses is you don’t see a Villa or hotel anywhere nearby. In the Algarve it’s all about selling what’s around the course. All you have here is Orange trees. It’s not been ambushed by millionaires wanting to watch you from their poolside loungers. The clubhouse could almost be described as a hut. It’s not got the flashiness to it, unlike so many others. For Laranjal is just plain and simply all about the golf course.
Absolutely spot on. For me and my family this place is right up there and, on the contrary, despite the absence of 'millionaires' that overlook other golf courses in the area, playing here truly feels like millionaire's golf with the place often to yourself. It's quite simply a gorgeous place to play. Long may it stay this way.
Laranjal is the best of the 3 Quinta course in my opinion. The layout is fun, with interesting greens and a great variety of holes. The greens remain the best I've ever played on, and the rest of the course was also in great condition. The food in the small clubhouse is fantastic, and the facilities are also excellent. Don't overlook it as a 'third course', it's a must play.
Best course in the Algarve for me. Unique layout which might require a snorkel depending on how straight you are, and the best greens I've ever played on!
Played this course a few times a number of years ago and it was definitely the poor relative of Quinta / San Lorenzo etc. Now the course has matured and is very well kept. A lot busier I may add than a few years ago. Getting better.
The Laranjal is the newest course in the Quinta do Lago resort and is by far the most open course. Wider fiarways but also longer holes. Some really testing holes witgh a lot of water in play. During our round the course was in pristine conditionand it was really fun to play. like the other Quinta do Lago properties a must play in the Algarve region.
Played this as the last of 4 consecutive days and liked it very much although compared to the 3 previous days it was much more "compacted" into the land available with numerous crossovers and adjacent holes which - apart from much water - makes losing a ball a lot harder..so good holiday golf !
The 9th and even more so the SI 1 16th are both stunning par 5's each with more than one water crossing.
Not specifically a problem with the courses themselves but it was frustrating that so there are so many "I have paid my money so I will do what I like" (supposed) "golfers" who leave pitch marks un-repaired and bunkers un-raked - who must have been out in their hordes on the day we played .... someone had played 3 shots in a bunker and walked out past the rake ...worse than an American Ryder Cup fan in my book !!!!
I would say this was a great "first day" course
I thoroughly enjoyed my round at Laranjal and it was good to be able to walk round a course in Portugal. We all agreed that this course would be great to start a trip with as it is fair but still a good course. There are a few holes here which stand out to me but the 11th par 3 and 16th par 5 are two of my favourites. The greens are exceptional only bettered this year by good old Hindhead and I was fortunate enough to get the read of these pretty well, unlike one of my player partners who 3 putted 4 times and 4 putted once, so be warned.
If there were any negatives it is that you can feel on top of people at times. but this does not take away too much from the course. Having now played all the Quinta courses, this is definitely the 3rd best but this does not make this a bad course by any means.