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.
Anyway it's a course dominated by five large lakes in the middle of the course with a single burn running between these lakes. First 8 holes are played clockwise around the course avoiding most of water in the middle. Large and numerous bunkers are the hazards on these holes. We had quite a stiff breeze from the south on the day we played which made the already lengthy 7th par 3 an absolute monster hole, from the tips its about 250yds! Special mention should go to the two lengthy par 5's 4th and 6th which require a strategic long iron/hybrid second shot to avoid the numerous tough greenside bunkers, leave the fairway woods in the bag and forget going for the green in two is my advice. It's from the 9th on where fun begins! Most of the last 10 holes involves water and these holes are by far the stars of the course. 9th a par 5 requires a second shot over lake and if going for the green requires a long fairway wood shot over 2 lakes, super hole. 10th is a straight short hole requiring an accurate 2nd shot pitch to a green which slopes left to right near a lake no more than a yard from the fringe. 11th is a long par 3 with water and bunker on the right. Cracking well designed sequence. 15th is another superb longish par 3 over water to a small green, while the 16th is reminisent to Oceanico Victoria's 12th hole but i'm pretty sure a longer 2nd shot is needed to go for the green on this hole. 17th is the weakest par 3 in a set of impressive short holes. Unfortunately the uninspiring 18th too doesn't quite reach the heights of the previous par 5's.
Overall this is a highly enjoyable course that should creep up the rankings with time. It's a longish course just reaching over 7000 but layout feels compact with very little travel time between greens and tees, no need for buggies at all. It was in great conditions when we played and difficult to believe it's just over 2 years old. Overall highly recommended course.