Vale do Lobo is the Algarve’s most senior golf resort, founded in 1962 and it is currently the largest luxury resort in Portugal. Much has happened at the Vale since Sir Henry Cotton laid out the fist course at Vale do Lobo in the early 60s. Cotton’s original layout has been split in half to form two new courses, the Royal and the Ocean and many houses have sprung up around the course, creating some rather long walks between greens and tees.
The Royal course is widely regarded as the better of Vale do Lobo’s two layouts. American architect Rocky Roquemore laid out the nine new holes in the late 90s, which are routed over gently undulating ground further inland. Thirteen holes from the Royal course are combined with five holes from the Ocean course to form the composite layout, which was used to stage the Portuguese Open in 2003. It will therefore come as no surprise that the Royal course is a supremely challenging test of golf.
Undoubtedly the star of the Royal course is the par three 16th. This cliff top signature hole measures 224 yards from the back tees. This is probably the most photographed hole in Portuguese golf and the view from the back tee which is perched on the edge of the cliff is one of our all-time favourites. This is a stunning hole without a shadow of doubt and it makes the pricey green fee worthwhile.
Want to play here again in different conditions as it was a very rainy period when we played and the course was playing a bit wet, which made if feel much longer than it was (but this might have also been due to not playing good golf shots in general and trying to steer the ball which just lead to more trouble). Was lined by houses which you really felt came into play and maybe were too close if you strayed a bit off line. I think the course is a bit tougher than Quinta do Lago (South). Somewhere between Good and Very Good for me...
Conditioning of this course was fantastic, the greens were great and quick too. I enjoyed the course itself, but can be frustrating playing par 5s that require only a 2iron and a GW (the 1st). Easily the better of the two Vale Do Lobo courses but not walkable - there are some big walks between some of the holes.
Personally didnt think the 16th was as amazing as everyone makes out, definitely better holes on the course.
Played VdL royal last week as first course of a three course trip. Clubhouse is great, with great facilities. Course is fairly tight especially on first few holes but is quite short. Greens were very good as expected. Buggies are essential. Round was very long as we had slow fourball in front. 16th is great hole with great views. But is very hard into the strong breeze. Playing well over 200 yards into 4 club wind. Would certainly play there again as overall experience is great. Royal I would say is slightly better than ocean which I played a few years ago, but would say San Lorenzo and old course are better.
We were a group on 8 people from 3 to 23 hdc, we played the old course San Lorenzo, Vale do Lobo Royal and Ocean, all of us loved Vale do Lobo better. Both courses were in better shape and more fun to play.