- First Arnold Palmer-designed course in Portugal
- Hosted the World Cup of Golf (2005) and the Portugal Masters (2007-current)
- Minimum of five tee positions on each hole
- Located five minutes from Vilamoura, with a wealth of restaurant and nightlife options
The Algarve region is synonymous with holiday-makers seeking world-class golf and Portuguese sunshine. The sheer abundance of golf on offer (there are now more than 40 courses), coupled with a climate that typically serves up more than 300 days of annual sunshine, have ensured that this part of the world remains a firm favourite among weather-weary UK golfers.
Oceanico Golf are one of the region’s key players with eight championship layouts under their management. The pin-up of these is undoubtedly the Oceanico Victoria. Having opened in just 2004, Arnold Palmer’s creation has wasted little time in attracting the attention of golf’s tournament-makers.
We take a closer look at the course which is quickly developing into one of the leading lights of Portugal’s golfing landscape.
The Victoria Course is the first in Portugal to be designed by Palmer and as anyone who has been lucky enough to play the likes of Pebble Beach, Bay Hill, or Tralee Golf Club will attest, “The King” designs courses just as well as he used to pick them apart as a player.
This majestic layout played host to the 2005 World Cup, won by Welsh duo Bradley Dredge and Stephen Dodd, and has seen some astonishing performances as home of the European Tour’s Portugal Masters since 2007. Perennial majors bridesmaid Lee Westwood finished at 23-under to win here in 2008. Tom Lewis (who led the 2011 Open Championship as a 20-year-old amateur) birdied five of the last seven holes at the 2011 event to win his maiden title in only his third professional start. Last year, English veteran David Lynn produced similar fireworks with a final round 63 to snare the trophy.
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Take a closer look at the spectacular Oceanico Victoria course as our own Rory tackles its water-lined fairways alongside PGA pro Mark Crossfield.
From the championship tees the course measures a hefty 7,274 yards – making it the longest 18-hole layout in the country – but a minimum of five tees on each hole gives golfers of all standards the chance for a fair fight. The course’s main defence comes in the form of water – and there is plenty of it. In all, lakes occupy 13 of the 90 hectares on the property; we strongly advise paying a visit to your local ball retailer before arrival! The Victoria has few trees, therefore exposing it to the wind and adding another dimension to the challenge in blustery conditions. While there are no great elevation changes to speak of, the fairways are constantly undulating, so it’s wise to take note of your landing areas. As you’d expect from any Arnie layout, the greens are quick and true, and can become particularly slippery when left to dry.
Without doubt, the par-4 18th is the real show-stopper on an action-packed back half of the Victoria Course. It’s a brute too, measuring 462 yards from the plates. A water hazard runs along the entire left hand side of the hole, so anything slightly pulled off the tee will likely result in a re-draw and a blot on the scorecard. Things don’t get any easier with your approach; the water is ever-present, made harder by the fact you’re usually playing the hole into a headwind, while bunkers to the right reduce your bail-out options. This is a fantastic finishing hole where you’d imagine that even the pros would be happy to escape with a four.
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The 18th hole on the Victoria Course is as beautiful as it is daunting. How would you fare, leading by one going up the last in the Portugal Masters?
WHERE TO STAY
There are a number of accommodation options for visiting Oceanico Victoria depending on your taste and budget. For unrivalled convenience, go for The Residences at Victoria – located in the very middle of the course! These stylishly appointed two and three bedroom apartments combine the comfort of a house with an exceptional hotel room service, without being overly pricey. For a more luxurious experience, the Tivoli Victoria Golf Resort & Spa (situated next to The Residences) combines impeccably furnished rooms with all the bells and whistles of a 5* resort, including two restaurants, three bars and spectacular swimming pools overlooking the course. Both are situated just five minutes away from Vilamoura and its vibrant nightlife. If you want something closer to Portugal’s stunning beaches, go for either the Vila Gale Marina (which overlooks the spectacular Vilamoura Marina) or the Hotel Brisa Sol in nearby Albufeira.
One of the great lures of the Algarve is its accessibility from the United Kingdom. Faro Airport is less than three hours flight time from a number of UK ports, with just a 25 minute taxi ride from the airport to the Oceanico Victoria Course – perfect for ducking away for a short golf break!