The Victoria course was the fifth course in Vilamoura to be opened in 2004, thanks to a €18 million investment programme and it is rightly lauded as the flagship course in the Dom Pedro Group.
Designed by the late great Arnold Palmer, the course was built with tournament golf in mind, depicted perfectly by its mammoth layout covering some 90 hectares, which also includes a 2,500m2 putting green.
From the opening tee shot, it is easy to see why the course is regarded as one of the very best in Portugal and an obvious choice for the Portugal Masters – which has been held their every year since 2007.
Past winners of the European Tour event include the likes of Lee Westwood, Andy Sullivan and reigning champion Padraig Harrington, of which the latter two players share the tournament record score of 23-under par (261).
The course itself is laid out over flat terrain featuring a number of specifically manmade mounds that are meant to emulate the hills you can see on the horizon. There are also a number of beautiful lakes and spectacular waterfalls on display, which don’t quite look so beautiful when you find them.
For us there are two flagship holes on the course, and they both fall on the back nine.
The first is the 14th with its double fairway separated by a waterline that includes a couple of waterfalls. If you decide to play safe and go down the left fairway, you shouldn’t find any water and there is only a smallish bunker that can catch you out. However, the second shot requires laser-like precision and control as you have to fly the ball over water to an elevated green surrounded by water on the left side.
But, if you decide to go right then you have to carry the ball at least 220 metres completely over water to a small fairway lined with bunkers on the right and a stream on the left. If you get this right though, you will be left with a simple shot to the green and can very much look at walking away with a birdie.
The second flagship hole is the 18th, the longest par 4 on the course with water flagging the entirety of the left side and a number of bunkers on the right. You need to hit a long and straight drive down the centre of the fairway to be in with a chance of getting home in two. Even with a good drive you will still be asked to hit a great second shot to reach the green that has water at the front and left. You can expect the pin position on the last round at the Portugal Masters to be tucked away on the left hand side.
In summary, the Victoria course is definitely one of the best courses in the Algarve, and Portugal as a whole for that matter. It presents a stiff challenge to golfers of all abilities and with strategically placed bunkers and numerous lakes, there is a requirement on long and accurate golf shots to succeed.
Holes - 18
Par - 72
Length – 6,551m/7,273 yards
For more info visit the website: dompedrogolf.com