After an investment of €18m in 2004, the fifth golf course at Vilamoura opened for play. Arnold Palmer designed the Victoria and it’s a big layout that was built with tournament play in mind. One year after opening, the course hosted the WGC World Cup, which resulted in a Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge Welsh team victory.
In 2007, Oceânico Golf, former owners and operators of a group of seven Vilamoura courses, secured the inaugural Portugal Masters. Englishman Steve Webster won the first event with an impressive 25 under par total. The Portugal Masters has been held on the Victoria course ever since.
In some ways, the Victoria is similar to the South course at the K Club, but naturally the weather here on the Algarve is much warmer. The hazards are severe and you may settle for the safe option and a few three putts by aiming to hit these huge, fast and undulating greens in regulation. Keeping out of the numerous water hazards and the threatening bunkers will pay dividends on this relatively flat course.
In a way, I think it’s tricky to fairly review a course you played on holiday. Everything seems better on holiday. You’re in Portugal. The weather is perfect. You’re with your best mates. You’ve got 4 bottles of ice-cold Super Bock in the buggy cooler. Your work phone is 2000 miles away. Life is about as good as it can get for any golfer who isn’t a Tour pro or the owner of a diamond mine.
But I digress. Here are the most objective thoughts I can muster about this course.
It’s taken as gospel that the best track in Vilamoura is the Old. An elegant, mature course that gracefully winds its way through the umbrella pines over dramatically undulating terrain. The Victoria meanwhile is an open, largely flat, bulldozer scarred behemoth that’s lacking any scenic beauty, clearly designed to be a spectator course for European Tour events.
But the thing is, I actually think the latter is more enjoyable.
Yes, the front 9 is a bit ordinary in its architecture (the 4th and 7th standing out in my mind as exceptions) and I find the bunker on number 8 at best a gimmick, at worst an eyesore. But from the approach to the 10th green onwards, it’s rollocking good fun.
Water is an ever present threat on the back 9 but there is plenty of fairway to hit if you can keep your nerve. 11 is risk/reward off the tee as the fairway is pinched narrow by the lake at around the 240 yard (sorry we’re on the continent - 220 metre) mark, but successfully threading the needle offers up a much more simple second shot. The 12th is a monstrous par 5 that demands two carries over the lake. 13 is a beautiful par 3. 14 is a really fun par 4 with a stream dividing the fairway into two halves - A brave (and successful) tee shot gets rewarded with a simple approach. 15 is a drivable par 4 for the longer hitters. 16 is a tough, long par 3, though the green is much bigger than it looks. 17 is a spectacular par 5 that winds its way through babbling brooks, mini waterfalls and more dramatic lakes. Finally, 18 is one of the toughest holes on the course. A long par 4 with water threatening down the left of the fairway and bunkers guarding the safer right-hand side. The green is handsomely guarded by more water framed by classy looking stonework.
In the end, perhaps this isn’t an objective review. Golf is the experience you have and it’s difficult to compartmentalise the different elements of that experience. Is the Victoria Course a great layout worthy of the 5 ball rating I’m giving it? Its world ranking on this site would suggest not. Who am I to argue with the collective wisdom of those more experienced and articulate than I am? I’m just a guy who had the time of his life playing the Victoria course. And in the end, isn’t that all that matters?
Host of the Portuguese Masters on the European Tour so it has a bit more of a grandiose feel, a really nice, yet simple golf course. Not difficult if you have length off the tee. Some great risk reward holes, oh, and I had a hole in one on the 8th so now my name rests alongside some of the great names in European golf on the honour boards hahaha. In really good condition much like all the other Dom Pedro courses too.
The Victoria course isn't one that I'd generally go out of my way to play. It is a resort course which is wide open. However, it is in great condition, the clubhouse is nice, and it's a change from the boring treelined courses in the area.
The front nine is underwhelming, with 4, 6 and 7 being the best holes, but the back nine is actually quite good. 11 and 12 wrap around a lake, and 13 is a nice par 3 over the lake. 14 is a cool hole where a stream splits the fairway making it a classic risk reward. 15 is a nice short par 4, whilst 17 and 18 are tough par 4s and 5s respectively with water lurking the length of the hole.
A good course worth playing if in the area.
Every time that I have gone to Portugal I have ended up playing the Victoria one way or another and every time I have liked it more and more. Although it is a brutally hard golf course it is a course that I love because it is always in great condition and has some beautiful holes. The facilities are excellent with a nice driving range with complementary range balls and the practice green is a lot of fun as it has a very unique design. The course is fantastic and in great condition, it is probably one of the best that I have played in the Algarve and I even preferred it over the Villamoura old course. If I go back to Portugal again, I will definitely play here as I have some very fond memories of this place!
The Victoria course usually hosts the Portugal Masters and is a really testing golf course near Vilamoura. A fantastic design of Arnold Palmer with some woderful holes and a lot of water in play. Especially the 17th and 18th hole are a dramatic finsih of the round and will stay in your memory for a long time.
Condition was a little dry due to the summer heat but greens were sill in good condition. Not sure if the courses are getting better unter the new Dom Pedro ownership.
Played the Victoria a few years ago, so not a current review on conditioning, but we found the course essentially fine but lacking in magic with the routing through a housing development and numerous incongruous mounding complexes.
Fine to play, but felt it was over priced and would go to Old or San Lorenzo if in the area.
This is a nicely designed course that gets better as you get on. The greens are true which should always be a given but is not always the case. The standout holes for me are 7, 11, 12 (which with a big drive is ultimate risk and reward), 14th, 17th and 18 which off the yellows is a 445 yard par 4 that asks a 200 yard carry over water to make it easy. We play very year as a 3 ball and I would just ask to adopt Monte Rei's attitude of not putting other people with us.
During Easter 2016 I had the chance to play the course four times. The expectations were high after six visits to Portugal Masters on the same course. This is a fantastic course. The conditions of tees, fairways and greens are just excellent. It is a quite long course from yellow and white tees, so you need to have a good day with your driver. The course rewards the strategic player since the bunkers and water hazards are numerous. The front nine are very good and the back nine is just amazing. Maybe some high handicapers can find the course a bit difficult. There are other good courses in the Algarve but this one is a memory for life. You have to play it!