Home to this week's Portugal Masters on the European Tour, the stunning Victoria Course 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 2,500m-squared putting green.
Dom Pedro is currently undergoing a €4.5 million renovation programme across its five championship courses - the Victoria, Old, Millennium, Laguna and Pinhal - and it very much shows where the Victoria is concerned.
The course has seen a host of improvements in recent times, including the installation of a new, more energy efficient irrigation system, new larger and higher quality chipping areas, and the introduction of new grass such as common Bermuda for the rough and green surrounds.
On top of that, the course has added almost 2,000 trees across its 18-hole, par-72 layout to frame fairways and prevent the cutting of corners on certain holes.
There has also been a hefty investment on new golf equipment such as the latest Toro machinery for the greekeeping staff, as well as a new fleet of GPS-enabled golf carts.
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, 2020 European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington and defending champion Tom Lewis.
Last year the tournament was best remembered for Oliver Fisher shooting the first-ever 59 in a competitive round on the European Tour.
Simao da Cunha, Director of Golf Operations, Dom Pedro Golf, said: “We have worked very closely with the European Tour to improve the condition of the Victoria Course to provide a more complete test for both professionals and amateurs. This is part of a wider development programme that, with the addition of further trees and the strategic repositioning of bunkers in the years ahead, will establish the Victoria Course as one of the best in Europe.”
Jose Maria Zamora, Tournament Director, European Tour, said: “We have been visiting the Victoria Course for 13 years and have a very close relationship with the team there. Their commitment to the development of this course is evidenced by the work undertaken in changing the grass in the rough to Bermuda over the last two years. The course has always provided an interesting test and the changes being made will ensure it continues to be one of the finest-conditioned layouts we visit all year. I look forward to this year’s event and to working together with Dom Pedro going forward to make the Victoria Course the best it can be.”
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