Vale do Lobo is the Algarve’s most senior golf resort, founded in 1962 and it is currently the largest luxury resort in Portugal. Much has happened at the Vale since Sir Henry Cotton laid out the fist course at Vale do Lobo in the early 60s. Cotton’s original layout has been split in half to form two new courses, the Royal and the Ocean and many houses have sprung up around the course, creating some rather long walks between greens and tees.
The Royal course is widely regarded as the better of Vale do Lobo’s two layouts. American architect Rocky Roquemore laid out the nine new holes in the late 90s, which are routed over gently undulating ground further inland. Thirteen holes from the Royal course are combined with five holes from the Ocean course to form the composite layout, which was used to stage the Portuguese Open in 2003. It will therefore come as no surprise that the Royal course is a supremely challenging test of golf.
Undoubtedly the star of the Royal course is the par three 16th. This cliff top signature hole measures 224 yards from the back tees. This is probably the most photographed hole in Portuguese golf and the view from the back tee which is perched on the edge of the cliff is one of our all-time favourites. This is a stunning hole without a shadow of doubt and it makes the pricey green fee worthwhile.