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.
I'm truly astonished that anyone should describe this course as boring, and equally shocked that so many think it inferior to Vilamoura Old. I have played the courses in this area on three occasions now as part of a party of eight (six single figure golfers and two off 10), and to a man we all rate Victoria the best, although we are yet to play the Faldo or O'Connor courses. It is a cracking test of golf, invariably in better condition that the over-played Old course, and much, much more difficult. That is why the Tour play here, although they do make it look easy! After a fairly gentle opening, the course gets progressively more difficult, with 17 and 18 being two of the best closing holes I have played. Anyone who knocks it on 18 in regulation deserves a pat on the back! Overall great course, top facilities and well worth the green fee. Don't be put off by those who dunked a couple of sleeves of balls in the water!!
Played Victoria as part of a glorious week at Vilamoura in November and I think it has the hardest back nine that I've ever played. It was in great condition and the facilities were wonderful, but in reality, too difficult for me and I'd probably play Vila Sol rather than Victoria next time I'm there.