Vila Sol (Prime & Challenge) - Algarve - Portugal

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


  • +351 289 300 505


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: 6.4 out of 10 Reviews: 20
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martin
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!
February 19, 2010
8 / 10
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Ed Hall
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.
March 17, 2009
8 / 10
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Dan Flanagan
Played 1-9 and 19-27. The first nine are tight, winding through pine trees, and with some nice holes over water towards the end. Overall found this to be an interesting nine, well-designed and making you have to think your way round. Also in pretty decent nick. But sadly 19-27 were a big let-down. Just felt like they had just been tacked on in a confined space. Many holes you see people coming across from other fairways onto yours. Not in the same class as the front 9. So my advice - play 1-18! Worth a visit.
October 23, 2008
6 / 10
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Colin Jones
The Vila Sol resort complex is a cracker. A great hotel, the villa's and apartments are superb too. The customer service is second to none. This is all capped off by a very playable golf course. I played Quinta Da Lago last year and this course rates very favourably with it. There is one lovely hole (I think the 7th) a par 5 with a big lake right in the mddle of the fairway, which is like a mini version of the 18th on the West course at La Manga. (apart from the fact that there's no lake) but the elevated tee draws comparisons. Most of the par 3's here were long ones, but the course was really worth playing. If there was any disappointments it was the wealth of building work going on just after the turn, from the 10th to 13th it was liking playing in a building site. The other more permanant disappointment was the 18th hole. You'd expect some sort of grand feature and for it to be a bit of a showpiece, but the green looks as though it's been plonked in the middle of someones lawn and it really is a poor way to finish an otherwise excellent course.
September 18, 2008
8 / 10
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Morton Rennick
This is a fairly difficult course to score on, with tight fairways, plenty of dog legs and long par three's. Although not manicured to 5 star level it still is a lovely track and a good test of your game. Has always been on our courses to play liist in the Algarve for the past 6 years. Staff are also fairly freindly.
May 13, 2008
6 / 10
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Darren
A very nice course. If you are planning a trip to the Algarve for the first time and you are not sure where to play, then this course (holes 1 to 18) and the Old Course should be on your must play list. And of course, if your budget can stretch to it, a round at Monte Rei!
May 08, 2008
6 / 10
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Peter Teague
Played Vila Sol 1-18 last week and I have to say the more I play this course the more I enjoy it. This is a genuinely difficult golf course and there are few easy pars to be had. The fairways are quite narrow and positionong your tee shot is very imortant as finding the wrong side of the fairway can mean you have a pine tree directly in your line to the green. The par 5 6th hole with the elevated tee is my favourite driving hole in the algarve with out of bounds left and right, water left and a huge bunker on the right to contend with. The 18th is a nice finishing hole but hit your drive to the right hand side of the fairway and you risk being blocked into the green. The greens were smooth and true and quite fast and the club house and all the facilities are great. Recommened. Peter, Belfast
April 13, 2008
8 / 10
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jim
Found this to be the best of the 5 courses I played in the Vilamoura. An extremely difficult course where playing to your handicap is an achievement. The course is let down by the speed of play (It took us over 5 hours) and the excessive amount of property surrounding all the holes
February 18, 2008
8 / 10
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Andy Wilson
Played this course a couple of days after all the celebrities in the "Bobby Robson Classic" screened on Skysports. This is a visually stunning golf course. The front 9 are rated as the hardest opening 9 on the Algarve, and it's not difficult to see why! If you aren't straight, you're in big trouble. But it's hard to get frustrated when you are in such plush surroundings. Too many pluses to mention but suffice to say this is a "must play" if you're on the Algarve, and the clubhouse is probably the most plush I've ever visited. A truly classy resort.
July 13, 2007
10 / 10
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Highball
I played the course in June 06, when the first 9 hole loop (Prime) was closed for maintenance. The remaining two 9 hole loops that were open (Challenge and Prestige) proved to be somewhat disappointing. From tee to green the holes were generally interesting and in good condition, with a fair range of tees to accommodate varying standards of golf. The dominant feature of the course is not the rough, but the pine trees in the rough! In most cases the only safe way out is sideways. The two best holes in the Challenge loop are 17 and 18. The 17th is a downhill par 4 with a small and blind landing zone from the tee, followed by an approach to a long and thin green. The 18th provides an opportunity to grandstand to those in the clubhouse, by hitting a big draw up the hill followed by a mid-iron to a severely sloping back to front green. The best hole on the Prestige course is the 23rd which is a genuine 3 shotter par 5 with OB all the way down the left, finished off with a raised green. However the greens were poor – slow and not particularly true. Shame as it could have been really good fun.
June 18, 2007
4 / 10
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Andy Wilson
July 13, 2007
It's a shame the front 9 weren't in play when you visited because they are comfortably the best of the 27. You would certainly had a different opinion otherwise.