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The Old Course

The Old Course in Vilamoura is one of the oldest golf courses in the Algarve, but while it may have a long history, it has been modernised to meet the needs of the contemporary golfing game and has more than stood the test of time.

Located within Vilamoura, this 18 hole, par 73 course was designed by Frank Pennink and covers a total distance of 6,254m, meandering through lush parkland with plenty of mature pine trees providing hazards for golfers playing this Grande Dame of the Algarve golf courses.

The original layout has been maintained, with renovations to the course always preserving the impressive layout that has helped to make it one of the most renowned golf courses in the world.

A new Clubhouse has only helped to improve the overall quality of golf here and the Dom Pedro Old Course remains a “must play” course in the Algarve.

Here is a helpful hole-by-hole guide to this course written by Rob Cheney. Rob is a leading PGA Pro with extensive knowledge of golf in the Algarve and over 15 years of coaching experience.

  1. A short downhill Par 4 to start which immediately offers a risk/reward choice for the golfer. The further you drive it, the narrower the fairway gets, but the longest hitters can get very close to the front of the green. The safe route is a shorter tee shot to the wider landing area, followed by a full short iron approach. The green slopes from from to back.
  2. The first Par 5 plays straight away and gently uphill. Only one small bunker to avoid on the left side of this hole, the real challenge is with the approach shot which often plays longer than the yardage as the green sits up on a small plateau. Try to leave your ball below the hole as the green slopes from back to front.
  3. Short Par 4 that continues up the hill. The drive should favour the left side of the fairway away from the encroaching pine trees on the right. The green is small and you must avoid the two bunkers guarding either side.
  4. Pretty Par 3 played over water with a large umbrella pine and bunker in front of the green. The green is generous in size, so make sure you take enough club to carry all the trouble at the front of this green and you should be fine.
  5. Dogleg left Par 5 playing back towards the clubhouse. The right side of the fairway is the ideal line on this hole. The green is protected by bunkers and two tall pine trees in the front. Avoiding these can be the difference between an easy Par, or a bogey… or worse.
  6. Long Par 3 played downhill through a corridor of umbrella pines. Avoid the two front bunkers and you have a chance of making Par.
  7. Uphill Par 4 which doglegs from right to left. The ideal shot from the tee is aimed at the fairway bunkers with draw which takes the ball around the corner. The approach to a blind green requires one extra club than you think.
  8. Long, uphill Par 4 which is Stroke Index 1 for a reason. Keep your drive to the left as the fairway slope from left-to right and a straight drive can often end up under the pine trees on the right. If you can reach in two, you must avoid the two bunkers on the right waiting for any shot slightly misjudged. Most players will need three shots to reach this green, so a 5 can really feel like a Par.
  9. Another risk/reward hole to finish the front 9. The longest hitters can try to drive the green, but the penalty for missing is a landing area fraught with danger including trees, bunkers, and rough. The conventional play here is a mid-iron or hybrid from the tee to a wide fairway, then a wedge or 9 iron to the green.
  10. Medium length Par 3 hole to start the back 9 plays across a valley and usually requires an extra club than the yardage suggests.
  11. Par 4 which dogleg from right to left. The drive plays downhill and there is a big advantage for getting your tee shot as far down the fairway as possible. The approach plays slightly uphill to a green protected by bunkers and pine trees at the front, so the more loft you have in your hands for your second shot, the better. Once you get there, be careful of the subtle slopes on this green which can often lead to 3-putts.
  12. Par 5 which doglegs from left to right. Long hitters can benefit from cutting some of the corner over the pines and making this a very reachable hole in two. The fairway is lined with pine trees on either side meaning your second shot will require a lot of precision to avoid the trees and a fairway bunker 90m short of the green. The green is protected by two further bunkers in the front left and right.
  13. Left to right Par 4 where you must avoid the pine trees that jut out into the fairway on the right side, and the ditch that runs along the left side. The second plays slightly downhill and short is better than long on this hole.
  14. A short Par 5 which is reachable in two for long hitters. Even average hitters will find this Par 5 a more gentle challenge than many of the holes that have come before. Avoid the fairway bunkers with your tee shot and approach and you could well find yourself walking off with Par (or better).
  15. Par 3 that again plays across a valley to a green that is wide from left to right, but shallow from front to back placing correct club selection at a premium on this hole.
  16. Long, sweeping Par 5 that plays down the hill and from left to right. Favour the left side of the narrow fairway before playing your second shot down to the wider landing zone. The approach shot of around 100m must avoid the overhanging pines and the green side bunkers.
  17. Dogleg left Par 4 where the tee shot plays uphill to a blind landing area. the two fairway bunkers on the left of this hole are a good line for long hitters as they can easily carry these. The bail out area to the right is generous enough, but will leave a much longer second shot.
  18. A fairly straightforward closing hole. The fairway narrows the further down the hole you hit your tee shot, so beware of the fairway bunker on the left and the encroaching pine tree on the right. Your approach must avoid green side bunkers both front and right of this green.

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