Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course: Vilamoura´s Crown-Jewel

"Hole by Hole" Course guide | Hole-by-hole

Designed by the legendary player Arnold Palmer and opened since 2004, Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course is an ex-libris of Portugal´s golf, hosting the Portugal Masters since its first edition in 2007. The 17th is the signature hole of Victoria, the venue of the Portugal Masters since its first edition back in 2007. It is called “Cascatas Victória” (Victoria Falls) honouring the 12 waterfalls inside the several lakes along the right hand side of the fairway, together with some bunkers. It is a par 5, the longest hole on the course with 539 meters. In return it has the smallest green of the course, with water on the right. No wonder this hole is seen as the most decisive hole of the tournament, together with “Guarda Rios” (The kingfisher) the name of the 18th hole, the longest of the par 4´s with its 423 meters, with the fairway between a lake on the left and bunkers on the right and water protecting the green. It could not be any other way. From the beginning the idea was to build a course that would raise even more the demanding references of the four Lusotour golf courses in Vilamoura at the time. Meaning that this great course, the “crown-jewel” had to have the greatest finish. This is the rule, and this course is no exception.


To design the course, André Jordan chose the american Arnold Palmer,  a living legend of the World of Golf and responsible for the popularization of the sport in the decade of 60´s of the past century. The first contact with Palmer Design happened in January 1999, two months after the decision to build the Victoria, and quickly an agreement was achieved. The foundation stone of the project was laid on June 19th , of the year 2000, with the presence of Jorge Sampaio the Portuguese President of the Republic at that time. The course was opened in 2004, in a debut featuring Palmer himself, offering a golf clinic to all and playing nine holes. On a flat land with 90 hectares, a championship course had just raised and quickly turned into one of the ex-libris of portuguese golf with its wide fairways and undulating design conceived by the pen of Arnold Palmer which demanded huge ground movements. The Victoria has the most varied greens , both in size as in form; 5.5 hectares of well placed bunkers, white sand, and some with artistic shapes, such as the one at 8th hole, a giant octopus-shaped; in some of the bunkers, the sand spreads down all the way to the lakes, a typical Palmer´s signature; and 12 hectares of water surface with waterfalls.


Ricardo Santos, the Portuguese European Tour player sponsored by Oceanico (The Group that in 2007 acquired the golf courses from Lusotor Golfes in Vilamoura),  plays frequently in Victoria and says it changes to a completely different course during the Portugal Masteres: "During the tournament, the rough grows, the greens are hard and fast, the distances and the general condition of the grass change completely." But it's far from being a difficult course, so it provides good golf with good rounds with many birdies and eagles. Steve Webster won the inaugural edition with a total aggregate of 25 under par, Alvaro Quiros in 2008 won with 19 under, Lee Westwood finished with 23 under par in 2009, Richard Green in 2010 with 18 under and Tom Lewis in 2011 with 21 under par. In 2012, hole 3 a par 5 with 518 meters, became a par 4 of 450 meters. As a natural result, the course became more difficult and turned from a par 72 to a par 71. Shane Lowry won that year with an agregate of 270 strokes, 14 under par. In 2013 David Lynn won with 18 under par and, finally, in 2014, the tournament was reduced to two rounds due to bad weather conditions and the winner was Alexander Levy with an outstanding result of 18 under par in 36 holes.


It is an accessible course to play the ball, one can fade or draw comfortably and safely since there are just a few and low trees. The course becomes more difficult towards the end, but besides the challenging 17th and 18th holes, there are some other strong challenges such as the 7th hole, called “Duro de Roer” (Tough Hole), wich from the 2009 edition, had the tee shot replaced 50 meters back from its original position requiring a 230 meters tee shot over the lake. A reference should also be made  to hole 14, one of the most beautiful holes, a par-4 rightly dubbed “Double Fairway”, with two fairways separated by a water line and several waterfalls and hole 16 called “Pega Azul” (The Azure Magpie), a 190 meters long par-3 ending in a green with many slopes. This is where some of the best players in the world come together every year to play the biggest and richest golf tournament in Portugal.