Vale do Lobo or “Valley of the Wolf”, is one of the Algarve’s oldest golf resorts and it’s the largest luxury resort in Portugal. Sir Henry Cotton laid out 18 holes at Vale do Lobo in the late 60s but his original layout has been split in two to form the Ocean and Royal courses.
The Ocean is perhaps the understudy to the Royal course, but nevertheless it’s a solid sandy layout and it stands up on its own two feet. The newer and more open nine, which American architect Rocky Roquemore laid out in 2003, provide an opportunity in the middle of the round to open your shoulders before you head off toward the shoreline.
The handful of ocean holes, of which Vale do Lobo’s Ocean course takes its name, are really good and these beach holes are the ones which will remain etched in the memory. In fact, the Ocean course will lead you closer to the sea than any other course on the Algarve. Look out for the brilliant par three 15th, which measures 192 metres from the back tee, it rivals the brilliant par three 16th on the Royal course.
With holes flanked by umbrella pines and eucalyptus trees with greens set in delightful beach-front sites and even an authentic links-like hole, the Ocean is a varied course and one that will hold your attention. It’s well worth adding to your Algarve itinerary.
When the Open de Portugal was held at Vale do Lobo in 2002 and 2003 the 18-hole composite course comprised holes from both the Royal (1-6 and 12-18) and the Ocean (10,11, 15, 16, 18) layouts.
Played this one as the last round on a 3 days escape to Portugal to try and get a wider image of the destination for the future and again I feel bad for those who travelled with me back in 2018 because this one is another course that I should not have bypassed. But there is always time and space to correct mistakes and if we do another trip to this area both courses at Vale plus San Lorenzo will be on the roster with no argument.
The course was created by Henry Cotton and it is a classic design with a lot of good features and maintained in amazing shape. And when you get to 18th it is nice to see the stands used for the European Tour (although empty this time!). It was in pristine shape with greens rolling the fastest I have played in some time here in the Península.
The place shows a high quality of service since you arrive, the staff ready to help and everybody connected since then until you finish the round. It is very fair to say that my friend forgot his 2 cell phones over his cars and when we were on 4th green we got the Marshall to tell us they were found and safe, this is also part of it and hands up for the team!
As for the course … I liked it a lot. My only “but” are 3 par 5s which in numbers are short (but they play longer) due to being uphill. I imagine Tour not playing the course as par 73, it could be 70 or 71. But for us regular golfers the course from 6700yds plays a fair test of 73 which I was not able to match due to very poor putting, but the chances for small birds are there!
Both loops start on a high point and downhill tee shot going to the ocean for the 4th to 6th hole and 13th to 15th and then coming back to the Club House on the mentioned uphill home holes. Also 9 is a little bit quirky as a very tough par 4 but it happened we were let through there and played it too fast, but it is a challenging end of the front 9!
The Ocean Holes (3-5-6-11-14-15) have amazing views and with wind blowing either direction you will feel quite stressed trying to get the ball in place. The image on par 3 15th with the ocean on the back, the beach and the small town is maybe the best picture of the course!
To be highlighted:
3rd is a very good par 5 with a pond before the green and although there is room on the left if going for it, a miss will lead to an unnecessary bogey.
6th is a great hole and I didn’t realize it was par 5 until I saw it later on the scorecard. My only birdie!
11th an amazing par 4 finishing close to the ocean and with an uphill blind tee shot and a downhill mid iron to a small green. One of my favorite holes on the course.
14th a short 4 where you can cut the corner and get a short approach to a green with infinity ocean on the back … nice!
15th a 200yds par 3 with the beach on the left, if the round is not going well get your bathsuit and go to the sea!
16th the best par 5, reachable but with a small green sorrounded with “Alcornoques” and with a Valderrama sensation, loved it!
18th and the stands … they would have not clapped my 5ft miss for birdie!
The playing conditions are to be described:
Greens soft and fast, almost in Tournament Condition. One of the highlights of the course condition.
Very neat and consistent bunkers, not easy in this post pandemic days to keep them steady
Fairways a little bit soft and thatch with ball not rolling too much and usually getting some mud on it, maybe some top dressing needed.
Club Restaurant …. A MUST!!!
It is lucky to get experiences like this and can’t wait to go and play the Royal Course next time. This definitely is a destination for more than 1 visit!
Vale Do Lobo, the jewel in the crown of the Algarve for golf. We all flocked here in the eighties and nineties, for it truly was ‘golf’. Well I am saddened to say that’s no longer the case. If you are wealthy and frankly not ‘that into golf’, then this is for you. However if you love the game, your the type who is annoyed at pitch marks and you value the game, I’d give this a miss.
It once boasted 3 fine 9 hole loops but in what now appears a desperate attempt to create 2 18 hole courses they added in 9 very poor golf holes. Sadly they seemed to build them all into this one course.
Firstly the practice facilities. 3 euros for 20 balls… and you can only hit 9 irons. If you want to practice chipping or bunker shots, tough… and the practice green is no resemblance of what you’ll find on the course.
The first 6 holes are frankly boring. The condition is poor, no care is taken on paths or around bunkers. It’s no longer a priority here, unlike other neighbouring courses. Some of the par 5s you’ll scratch your head over. The 8th is granted, up hill but it’s 300 and something yards. Yes, the 9th is lovely with its water feature but the pessimist me thinks they only have this by the clubhouse and the nice villas for effect. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh.
The back 9 improves but then it’s some of the old holes. 10 is a par 5 with a water feature that is found 3/4 of the way down and shouldn’t come into play. I say water feature it looks more like an area that just had a heavy down pour on. The view is amazing from the tee…. But…
Then you play the gorgeous old holes. 11, 12, 13, 14 back down to the beach… then the amazing par 3 15th. Honestly, it’s one of the finest par 3s about. I’d never tire playing it. Then it’s back down with the 16th, again to what is a new green before you go back home with yet another short par 5 in.
For me Vale Do Lobos Ocean Course boasts 2 or 3 nice holes but beyond that it’s just not for me. I love golf, I don’t want to see a course become an opportunity to fit another villa in. I guess I just miss the eighties.
If you're after a fun, fast round in buggies with your mates, and you don't really care about the golf course, then Vale Do Lobo is a good place.
However, it isn't cheap, and I have no idea why. Both courses are quite average, and I honestly can't remember maybe 25 out of he 36 holes there.
On the Ocean course, the 15th is a lovely par 3 by the beach, and there are a few nice holes on the back nine too.
If you want a good golf course, I would bypass both VDLs, and visit Palmares (probably cheaper too), Penina or Monte Rei.
Played this on 9th September 2019, really enjoyed it. I've played it 2 or 3 times now and this is the best condition I've seen it in.
Offers a good mix of tree lined and open parkland holes down towards the beach with some great views. I know it is generally reckoned to be the weaker of the two Vale Do Lobo courses but during this week, not by much in my opinion.
The Ocean course at Vale do Lobo is nice, but the Royal is definitely the better of the two. There were some unusual holes on the royal that I didn't understand and thought weren't the best. For example the par 3 5th hole was just a pointless hole as it was just long with absolutely nothing to it. Although there were some not so great holes, there were also some excellent holes such as 6 which was a great par 4 with water all down the right and the par 3 15th was also a fantastic hole. Overall the course is good however there are better ones in the area!
One of two courses at the Vale de Lobo resort, maybe not as good as the Royal course but also really nice to play. Some wonderful holes with great ocean views like the par 4 14th and the par 3 15 hole. Also a lot of elevation on this course, it starts with a dwonhill tee shot and ends with an interesting uphill and really short par 5 hole.
Because of the nice ocean view I can only recommend the course but if you have a chance play also the Royal course.
A course I would play every day. Very different holes make this a real test.
Some of the views as you take your first sight of the ocean are just incredible.
Having played the Royal course too I don't think that is a patch on the Ocean course, which has been in superb condition on the 2 occasions I have played it.
6 ball rating?!?! seriously. its not even the best course on the complex.