You should play Vale do Lobo once, on a cloudless day, just to experience the pure exhilaration of the 16th (especially if you are playing it off the back tees). The rest of the round is far, far less dramatic unfortunately (and the routing, with long gaps between greens and tees, is ridiculous) although the conditioning of the course is very good. There are a couple of fun holes, including the two par threes on the front nine, the 7th and 9th, and the par 5 11th, but other than that it really is difficult to avoid the feeling that the course is very cramped by the villas which line almost every hole. There is just something extremely unnerving about the fact that a slightly off line tee shot could end up smacking someone in the head while they sit next to their pool or (as on the 17th) while they're playing tennis. Golf is hard enough mentally without thinking that a slightly errant shot is going to result in damaging someone's property or, worse, injuring somebody.
Date: April 28, 2010