Vilamoura (Old) - Algarve - Portugal

Dom Pedro Golf,
Vilamoura Old Course Golf Club,
Apartado 970,
8126-912 Vilamoura,
Portugal


  • +351 (0) 289 310 341

  • Romeu Gonçalves

  • Frank Pennink and remodelled by Martin Hawtree (1996)

  • Joaquim Sequeira


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Vilamoura (Old)

The Algarve region stretches out over more than 200 kilometres of southern Portuguese coastline, from the Spanish border in the east to the Costa Vicentina in the west. The sheltered marshes and sand dunes of the east change into wonderful beaches protected by beautiful cliffs as you move westwards along the coast, before reaching the dramatic rocks and hidden caves of the wilder Atlantic coast. More than 70 per cent of the Algarve coastline is protected nature reserves, which play host to large numbers of migrating birds in spring and autumn.

The coastal town of Vilamoura is situated in a perfect central location and the visitor will soon appreciate why it is arguably Europe's largest and most successful golfing destination. The climate, landscape and on and off course facilities are all perfect for year-round golf. In fact, the governing bodies in the area are so keen to ensure that the golfer is satisfied whilst at the same time respecting the local Portuguese people and supporting the indigenous flora and fauna that all of the Vilamoura courses are the first in the world to be environmentally certified by the ISO 14001 standard.

A gem in this Portuguese golfing Utopia is the Old course and it's the second oldest course in the Algarve, designed by Frank Pennink. The Old opened for play in 1969 and has undeniably remained one of Portugal's and Europe's finest courses ever since. Pennink wanted to build a course in the Algarve that would remind the rapidly growing number of British travellers of the great inland courses back home, something he has admirably succeeded in achieving. To ensure the Vilamoura Old course maintained this enviable position, in 1997 Hawtree & Sons managed a significant amount of upgrading and remodelling, which also included the installation of a sophisticated new irrigation system.

As with so many of the best courses, there was little need to perform major earthwork feats to develop the Old, just a simple, sympathetic use of the existing natural contouring, terrain and vegetation. The tees are always beautifully kept; the fairways are wonderfully crafted and tree-lined, making straight driving crucial; the greens small, especially on the par three holes, and the hazards perfectly placed to catch the errant stroke.

Rather unusually, the course par is set at 73; however, the course layout was changed by swapping the 5th and 18th holes around, reducing the number of par fives on the back nine to three.

Every hole will stay with the player after a round, such is the majesty of the Old course. Almost lulling players into a false sense of security, the first four holes are relatively straightforward – as long as your drive finds the fairway. The 5th is a cracking short hole over a lake to a small, sloping green. The rest of the front nine call for total concentration, and careful shot and club selection. The par five 6th may offer up a birdie from the daily tees but only to the best of drives and long iron or fairway wood approaches to a sloping, well-guarded green. Undoubtedly the pick of the front nine and probably of the entire round is the SI 1 8th hole. Playing 400-plus metres from the Medal tee, the hole slopes down hill to a fairway bunker, doglegs gently to the right and then rises back up to a narrow green well protected by trees all around. A par here is a rare and wonderful event.

Things don't get any easier on the back nine. The 10th, 11th and 12th holes test the golfer's range of shots and accuracy off the tee. Watch out for the collection of fairway bunkers on the 12th – they are large, deep and perfectly placed to catch a player's second shot on this 480-metre par five. The 16th is the last of the par fives and at more than 500 metres, it will call for three excellent shots to a narrow green protected by three large bunkers.

As befits a course of this quality, a well-designed and refined clubhouse and restaurant complement the excellent Old course, allowing the golfer to sit back, relive the round and enjoy the attention and service from the always-friendly staff.

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Reviews for Vilamoura (Old)

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Description: Vilamoura Old is the original and eldest course at Vilamoura but it's also the best. Grand, pine-lined, strategic and in tune with Mother Nature. Rating: 5 out of 6 Reviews: 43

This is one of the historic layouts in the Algarve region. Fantastic parkland layout with some elevation in the fairways and some really nice holes, like the par 3 4th hole with water and a huge tree infront of the green. Course combines some short par 4 holes and also some really long an testing ones. Fairways are set along some really nice pine trees and accuracy is always a must.

Unfortunately the club house is not the most inviting but the course is one of the best around Vilamoura.

5 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
October 09, 2018


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This was the 5th out of 6 rounds in our journey to Portugal and was one of the ones I wanted most to play due to it's history (will again host Portuguese Masters in 2018) and because I am a bigger fun of old fashion tracks instead of the new era Real Estate Development Vilamoura (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer Courses.

Said this we were received very friendly by the crew and we had a blast in a fantastic 25C sunny day.

The course plays rather like a parkalnd with some holes neighbouring others and some others just alone separated from the rest. And it was in excellent shape, fairways just perfect and greens rolling true and fast as most of the ones we played this week.

Greens were a fact, tough to interpret and rad, in a bad day of putting as I had you can have a nightmare, not being able to make putts that to the eye seemed easy.

Holes I would like the highlight: Vilamoura (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

- Par 3 4th: short and nice over the water and one tree I would take out as it bothers shorter hitters.

- Fantastic par 3 6th downhill with a great green complex breaking left to right.

- Par 4 7th up the hill and dogleg, one of the toughest tee shots.

- WOW! Par 4 8th 450yds from the mid tees down the hill and then up. And another one of those grees were the breaking of the putting line was tough to fin.

- Short par 4 9th is like a break, easily reachable but miss it Vilamoura (Old) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer either side and be prepared for your funeral.

- Par 4 13th might look unfair as it is tough to get the fairway, but there you find that driver is not the option, better get short and a longer second iron.

- Par 5 16th is long and with a third shot up the hill, another one of the good ones.

What would I change? Some trees in the line of play don't bother scratch golfers but are really a problem for older guys and those who don't hit it high. Take them away to make it a better experience for everybody. I loved it!

5 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
May 19, 2018


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Where to start? There is so much hype and admiration for this course, but sadly it falls seriously short.

The good:

The layout is fantastic, and I can certainly see how (in the past) the hype has been built up about this course. Its a pleasure to plot your way around the course, with some stunning holes.

The bad:

Like the reviewer below, the condition of the course is simply awful. Anyone who cannot see this must be blinded by the mystic and hype of the course.

The clubhouse is tired, although a very peaceful and pleasant setting.

The cart paths around the clubhouse are uneven, loose and in serious need of repair. The cart paths around the course are some of the worst I've ever seen. They are slippery to walk on and are routed so badly around the course. The condition of them are terrible with some paths turning into dirt tracks.

The tee boxes are uneven and the grass is patchy.

The greens are slow and bobble due to so many un-repaired pitch marks.

The sand in the bunkers are consistent but the bunkers need a lot of edging and work.

Its such a shame to see this course in this condition. The previous owners of Oceanico clearly spent the money on the Victoria and Faldo courses. Lets hope the new owners put some serious investment into the Old course to bring it back to its former glory.

Having played the majority of the courses in the area, Quinta South is a favorite.

3 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
October 25, 2016


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I couldn't disagree more with the review below - a two ball rating for this course is outrageous. As with many of the other reviewers I've played this course upwards of 10 times now over the past 8 years or so. I've never seen it in bad condition. It's not a holiday resort course, it's a "proper" course. A true golfing test. I implore anybody visiting the Algarve to pay the money to play here. Victoria is the course that gets the plaudits due to its Portuguese Open status, but if I could only play one course for the rest of my days in the Algarve it would be the Old Course everytime.

Far from being a weakness the clubhouse for me is a strong point - it isn't modern, grand, or bling - it's small, comfortable, and perfectly in keeping with the course. I've spent many a happy afternoon on the veranda looking over the putting green and first tee enjoying some post-round beers.

Ignore the haters and play this course - you won't regret it.

6 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
August 01, 2016


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Played the Old Course last Sunday. Hugely disappointed; this course cannot possibly be the 3rd best course in Portugal, that is laughable!! Here's why:The tee boxes are not flat. Take some time to tee your ball up to ensure its not 3 inches above or below your feet. Their condition was also dreadful, with brown lumpy uneven grass. The fairways were truly awful. Two on the back 9 should have been GUR, the whole lot. Rubbish. The greens are fast enough, but they were not true surfaces. Very bobbly, probably not helped by the fact this course is always seems to be very busy.......... we took 4 3/4 hours. They actually think 4 1/2 hours is "par" (it's not a long walking course!) so if you aim that low you get what you deserve? We waited on pretty much every shot; the marshal knew but didn't really sort it out until it was too late. But the locker room, oh boy. AWFUL!! If this review was written in 2006 I'd be saying it needed a refurb, and it's not changed since! The TWO showers are hanging off the wall and, well, it's hopeless. Enough space for about 6 guys to change their shoes. The clubhouse food is also very, very average.The design of the course is obviously good, as others have said, notwithstanding some very weak holes, such as the 2nd where a par 5 is almost a bad score?But the conditioning / price / speed of play means this course is one to avoid. There are too many other good choices nearby.
2 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
March 01, 2016


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4 people found this review helpful and 4 did not
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Darren
March 01, 2016
I've seen some 'troll' reviews in my time, but this one really is seeking click bait. Well bite I shall. There is a saying that 'form is temporary, class is permanent'. This applies when reviewing a golf course purely on conditioning alone. One should never let this factor into a review. I've played almost every course in the Algarve over the past 8 years on many trips. The Old Course is the best traditional Portugese course in the area. If you want perfectly flat tee boxes, the Monte Rei is where to go. And whilst Monte Rei is the better design, given where I am choosing to holiday, the Old Course would be my first pick every time. A review to ignore.
Brad
March 03, 2016
What are you talking about, one of the purest nicest courses in Portugal. I have played it 8/9 times and it has always been in perfect condition. An absolute joy to play.
Sam Mendoza
March 07, 2016
One reason i know this review is trash is that when i last played there they were struggling with the greens (in their opinion). They said to us 'play 9 holes, if they are not good enough for you we will book you on any of the other courses for free with transport and buggies'. The greens were as good as any of the others we played on the trip!!
Peter
March 07, 2016
Agree with Darren & Brad! Such a great traditional course - Sure the clubhouse is not a huge marble glad building but a small quiet clubhouse in keeping with the traditional courses of the area. Course conditions are always a touchy subject but you must take into consideration all sorts of things, flat tees etc? Thats just crazy, never had that problem. I love the place and can't wait to get back their in a couple of weeks!
Paul Edwards
August 02, 2016

Played the course at 8am in the summer and it's a lovely course some great holes but unfortunately was let down by too much sand on each green, it made putting almost impossible and for 80 euro's not worth the money . Agree the par5's are too many and not quite long enough and tee boxes aren't flat. But a lovely course nonetheless

Mark Shapley
August 08, 2016

Thought I'd get involved with this discussion. I have to agree with the review on a couple of aspects - the locker rooms are just awful. Also pace of play is too slow - for a short course it should be way quicker.

However, I still love the place and its always somewhere to play each time I come out. Monte Rei and San Lorenzo are a different class though.

The original and still the best course on the Algarve. You need to think your way around placing shots carefully between the pines. Excellent par 3's. Conditions perfect. Do not miss this course.
6 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
November 14, 2015


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We played the Old Course at Vilamoura on the first day of a recent golf trip and enjoyed it thoroughly. The greeting we got was a warm one - friendly staff an efficient dispensing of cheese and ham rolls to be taken out onto the course. The first hole is a gentle downhill par 4 which would only take a rescue iron and wedge to get to. Nice, straightforward but good fun. And that's really what the Old Course is. There's nothing tricked up about it. The rough isn't too penal, the shots all there laid out in front. The most unusual aspect though is the positioning of the hug canopy trees. Find yourself off the fairway, or even on the wrong side of it and you will have too either punch out sideways or change your playing line to avoid a mid-air collision which costs shots.Five par 5s and four par 3s makes it a par 73 which seemed odd as two of the par 5s were less than 470 yards and could have easily been a par 72 instead. The condition was pretty good on the fairways and greens but the tee boxes were poor and out of the keeping with the rest of the course. It's a solid 5 ball course. It's not got the variation and quality of San Lorenzo or the challenge of Monte Rei but we had a great day and would thoroughly recommend
5 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
May 22, 2014


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Simply an outstanding golf course. Tight fairways, small greens and in brilliant condition. Each tee shot requires your attention and requires different shapes of shot all the time.Played this the day after the victoria course and I found it a much better course and tougher to score.HIGHLY RECOMMEND
6 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
April 02, 2014


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One of my favourite courses anywhere in the world,with such a premium on accuracy and good putting,it's a great challenge for anyone.We just felt the course isn't conditioned as it was four years ago,greens slow,bunkers lacking sand,fairways patchy.It's still a premium price but showing signs of a lack of reinvestment,come on Oceanico get the chequebook out!
5 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
March 30, 2014


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This is an excellent course in excellent condition. Very demanding off the tee but if you find the fairway then its very playable. Different to most courses in the algarve and top of my list of courses to play when I return next year. This is definately a better test and course than the Victoria
6 / 6
Vilamoura (Old)
February 10, 2014


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