Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge) - Algarve - Portugal

Vila Sol Golf Resort,
Alto dos Morgadinhos,
8125 307 Vilamoura,
Algarve,
Portugal


  • +351 289 300 505

  • Sean Corte-Real

  • Donald Steel

  • Richard Hudson


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Vila Sol

The Algarve is a European golfing Mecca and Vilamoura is at its heart, overlooking the wonderful beaches that attract so many holidaymakers. A vibrant town, Vilamoura has embraced golf since the late 1960s when the Vilamoura Old course opened.

Heading east out of the town towards Quarteira is the 27-hole Vila Sol complex. The original course was designed by Donald Steel and opened for play in 1991 and the two main 9-hole loops are now called Prime and Challenge. The Vila Sol course is probably not as well known as the handful that surround Vilamoura itself, but this shouldn't be put down to any lack of quality. Much like the Vilamoura Old course - the other true championship layout in this area - Steel created Vila Sol without the need for excessive contouring or the creation of unnatural hazards. The course fits beautifully into the original undulating landscape and takes full advantage of the umbrella pine, fig and cork trees, which frame every fairway, making the golfer's target seem even narrower.

Players of all abilities will find Vila Sol a wonderful challenge. The fairways are always beautifully maintained and manicured and the many sand and water hazards are expertly placed to catch the ill-thought-out or poorly executed shot. The greens are true and generally very quick.

From the very start, Vila Sol provides a perfect indication of the tests to come as the layout opens with three par fours, all in excess of 380 metres. The third of these is the SI1 and plays uphill to a dogleg left and then on again to a left-to-right sloping green protected by a steep bank and trees all around, including the front left side of the green. A par here will be a very good score.

Other notable holes on Vila Sol's front nine are the 6th, 7th and 8th. The 6th is a long downhill par five with a large lake protecting the left half of the fairway. The uphill approach is to a small, well bunkered green. The 7th is a long, downhill par three back over the lake to a large, sloping green. Over-clubbing here is common, leaving a testing, fast putt back towards the lake. Finally, the 8th is a classic park-like par five, gently doglegging right with a narrow stream running in front of the green and back down the left of the fairway.

The back nine at Vila Sol is slightly shorter but no less tough due to the narrowness of the fairways, the superbly placed hazards and the small, testing greens. The pick of the Vila Sol back nine holes are the 10th, 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th. The 10th is a cracking par four, slightly downhill and playing to a large, well bunkered green. The 13th, on paper an innocuous-sounding par three, is in reality a tough challenge as it plays across a valley to a large, sloping green that makes club selection vital and can still leave a difficult and long first putt.

The 14th is a straight par five, playing uphill from the tee. Only the longest of drives will avoid a blind second shot over the brow of the hill. Check your distances carefully because two lakes protect the green front and left. The 17th is a perfect 'risk and reward' hole. It's a short par four that plays downhill to the narrowest of fairways. The sensible shot will be a mid-iron from the tee leaving a short iron approach, though a good straight drive could well find the putting surface or, at worst, a short chip. As befits a course of this class, the 18th is a wonderful par four finale.

Vila Sol played host to the Portuguese Open in 1992 and 1993 and it's undeniably a solid course that challenges and rewards at every turn. Donald Steel added nine new holes in 2000 and this loop, called the Prestige, is also worth playing.

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Reviews for Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)

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Description: Donald Steel created the course at the Vila Sol Golf Resort without the need for excessive contouring or the creation of unnatural hazards. Rating: 4.3 out of 6 Reviews: 18

Hole-by-Hole Review of Vila Sol Golf Course:1. Vila Sol’s opening 3 holes are regarded as one of the most difficult starts in the Algarve. A straight tee shot favouring the right side of the fairway will give you a look at the green. Take an extra club as the green is raised and most people will miss short.2. A straight, but tight, Par 4. Accuracy from the tee is necessary to give you a chance to find the green.3. The hardest hole on the course. Once again the drive must be precise and long to reach the corner of this right-to-left dogleg. The second plays uphill and at least one more club should be taken.4. A pretty Par 3 across a valley. Avoid going left at all costs. There is room short and right to bail out.5. This dogleg right around the water requires a straight tee shot up to 220m. The second plays across a small valley and must be struck well to make the carry.6. Nice Par 5 played from an elevated tee. Long hitters need to be aware of the water hazard from the tee. Shorter hitters must negotiate the water with their 2nd shot. A par here is a good score.7. Signature Par 3 hole across the water. If you can hold your nerve and carry the water, try and keep the ball below the hole as the green slopes severely from back-to-front.8. Long dogleg Par 5 with OOB right and water left. Keep it straight and beware of the creek which cuts across the fairway around 50m short of the green.9. A short Par 4 which offers a brief respite from the previous few holes. Accuracy is still a premium though, as an errant tee shot can lead to a bogey or worse!10. This Par 4 dogleg requires a precise tee shot of around 220m to give you a view of the green.11. Straight away Par 5 which can be reached in 2 by the longer hitters. Fairway slopes from left to right.12. Tight dogleg left Par 4. The tee shot must again be placed accurately to allow a good view of the green. The uphill approach may require an extra club.13. Really pretty Par 3 played downhill from an elevated tee position. Choosing the right club is the challenge here.14. Tough Par 5 which requires another straight tee shot. The lay-up must be carefully planned as there is a pond short of the green. This 3-teired green makes the approach shot and putting extra difficult.15. A good Par 3 requiring a well struck iron or hybrid club to make the carry to the green. Big bunker on the right awaits any stray shots.16. Slight dogleg right Par 4. A straight tee shot will leave you a good look at this large elevated green. Favour the right side of the green as it slopes from right-to-left.17. Blind tee shot where the fairway narrows the further you hit it. Once again, accuracy is at a premium on this tricky Par 4.18. The final hole is another strong Par 4. Tight tee shot which should favour the right hand side as much as possible to avoid being blocked out for your 2nd shot. The approach is played to a green in front of the clubhouse and patio, so save your best for last!19-27. These holes form the 9 hole Academy course and give a great opportunity for training your short game.Good luck!Rob Cheney is a leading PGA Pro with extensive knowledge of golf in the Algarve and over 15 years of coaching experience. Rob is also one of few to authorised with Stack&Tilt and Aimpoint certified. www.robcheneygolf.comAlgarve Holiday Fun provide discounted green fees for golf courses, and cheap tickets for attractions and events, across the Algarve. www.algarveholidayfun.com
6 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
February 18, 2016


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I find Vila Sol a very pleasant though demanding (BT) course with excellent greens. Try to play 1-18 (nice variety), 19-27 not being worth it (boring...). Warm-up practice highly recommended since holes 1 to 3 require length and precision! The scenery lacks a bit of magic: the nice hole nr 6, par 5, runs alongside a noisy road. No effort to mask it.Since I was invited by a member, the greenfee was ok (65€). Clubhouse nothing special with average service.
4 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
April 15, 2015


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Played Vila Sol on 8/6/13.Our overall golf experience was marred somewhat by the poor service review, but please see below an objective assessment of the course itself.All in all it is a nice course, quite picturesque, quite varied and in reasonable condition.Although the course does not "stand out" it is a good challenge and there are some nice holes.Unfortunately it resides in an area where there are an awful lot of good courses and, in relative terms, Vila Sol is not in the same class as the Old Course or San Lorenzo and IMO it also does not match Quinta Do Lago, Pinhal or the Ocean....putting it in the Millennium and Laguna bracket.It is comprised of 3 x 9 holes (we played Prime & Challenge) so there is a danger of congestion at the change over. We caught the course on a busy day and delays to our start time and resuming at the tenth led to a round that was close on 6 hours to complete....so beware.We chose Vina Sol because we were on a 3 round break and wanted a third course on a budget. 65 Euros per head including buggy was good value.Given the quantity and quality of golf in Vilamoura I would suggest that choosing Vila Sol is largely a factor of getting good tee times at a good price as opposed to the quality of the course and overall service standing out relative to the other courses in the area.Nice to have ticked the box, but we shan't return.
4 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
June 19, 2013


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lovely course but like many in the pestana group they dont seem to have any course marshalls to request that slow players let quicker players through.It took us 5 hours plus to go round and we were a 2 ball. Course in great condition and probably the best in the pestana group. Not too tough and would imagine lower handicappers would have to play off the whites to get full benefit from the course. greens true and tee boxes great. all standard of players would enjoy this course.
4 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
June 12, 2013


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The choice of courses on the Algarve and especially around Vilamoura/Quarteira is plentiful and really enjoyable. I recently played at Vila Sol for the first time and had a great time there. The style of the course is similar to the Old course in Vilamoura in the sense that there are many tree-lined fairways, nicely designed holes and also this is a very popular course. The tight driving holes put a premium on accuracy off the tee and the first three of the course highlight this brilliantly – these are all par-4’s and have SI’s of 3, 7 and 1 – a very tough start. The first hole to mention in detail is the par-4 5th, a tee shot of around 210 yards avoiding the water hazard on the right will leave an approach of around 130 yards but there is more water on the right-side near the green to consider. The very next hole is a par-5 with more water – this time it is at around 275 yards from the yellow tee on the left side but eating right into the fairway – with tee being elevated, a 3-wood is the smart play. The opening hole on the back nine is a monster dog-leg from the right and again the tee shot is key to set-up the approach. The 15th is probably the best looking par-3 with the whole hole surrounded by trees, a little bit of water (shouldn’t be in play though!) and a three-tiered green. The final two holes end the round on a high note; the 17th is around 390 yards with a slight move to the right and has a fairly wide landing area from the tee but this narrows at the green and the 18th, another par-4 of similar length turning left with around 130 yards to go is a tough finish especially if you are looking for a par to win your match. As mentioned earlier, I had a great time here and I think there is nice buzz around the course, the resort and the clubhouse/terrace – The only thing that the club management team need to watch is, because the course is busy, it is a little worn in places – they just need to rope off certain areas and manage the golfing traffic to avoid looking too over-played.
4 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
December 16, 2012


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Just back from playing (July 2011). This was a real disappoimtment. Whilst the holes are well placed, the greens were very poor. They had just been cored so were like playing a Scottish course in spring! Compared to Vilamoura Old which I played the day before, it was not in the same league both in quality and facilities.
3 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
July 27, 2011


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Neal Rothwell
June 25, 2012
Vila Sol is a golfers golf course requiring accuracy and length. 1 -18 is my favourite loop, fast greens super mature surroundings and a real challenge. Club house terrace has recently been refurbished and extended providing a tranquil environment to ejoy excellent snacks and drinks, at reasonable prices, overlooking the 18th green. highly recommended.
A really nice course slightly let down by clubhouse service. We played 1-18 and enjoyed all the holes, especially 9-18. Greens in good condition after plenty of rain over preceding few days. I would definitely go back for the course but service would make me think twice - we had specifically booked to play 1-18 but golf course reception sent us out on 19-27 followed by 1-18. We were told we would have to play the course this way until our starter said there was space on 1-18. Also took an age to be served in the clubhouse. It's in the pack in terms of quality when you compare it to other algarve courses but below average in terms of service
3 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
October 31, 2010


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It was a case of planes, trains and automobiles to get to the 1st tee on time, as I left my bed at 3am in Oxford to make it Vila Sol for 11am. Thankfully my friends, who arrived the previous day, had spent the night getting to know the local Port, so the journey left me at no disadvantage.Once out on the course, the previous night and early morning had to be forgotten pretty quick, as the first 3 holes are very tough, requiring good drives and better approach shots to get the round underway. The remaining holes on the front 9 are a bit more varied, with the par 5 5th, par 3 6th and the short par 4 9th being for me personally, the pick of a very solid opening 9 holes. After some much needed food at the hut, you are presented with 2 fairly open holes, before the course winds its way back into the surrounding pines again, putting a massive premium on solid driving and the ability to shape your shots. The pick of these holes for me, was the attractive par 3 13th, the par 5 14th and the par 4 17th; but only because this hole provided my personal highlight of the trip. This was my first taste of golf in Portugal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the course with only the last 3 holes letting this track down. The general condition was good, although the fairways were soggy and played long due to rain they had experienced a few days before we arrived. The greens at Vila Sol will ask you all sorts of questions. They ran at a fair pace, but you really have to be the right side of the pin and close, or there is a chance of the odd 3 putt, as I found out to my cost. I would like to play here again, but in an area providing plenty of options it may be a while before I do so.
4 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
March 31, 2010


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I played 1-18 in may 09 , the course was top class , the 6th hole stood out to me , my son and i enjoyed the course very much indeed and was the best of the 3 courses we played on our week vist, Great track and well worth a play!
5 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
February 19, 2010


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Played 1-18 last week and the overall layout was superb. The fairways were narrow yet in good condition, the greens were fast, firm and superb, and there are some terrific holes - the charity challenge on the 7th was good fun (even though I flew the green), the par 5 6th hole is a stunning hole from the high tee with water encroaching the fairway, and the par 4 12th with the tight drive and uphill 2nd to a remote green is also a great hole. I agree with the previous reviewer with regards to 19-27 - don't bother with this loop if you can help it, stick to 1-18. I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone.
5 / 6
Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge)
March 17, 2009


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