The Alvor Course
HOLE 1: 429 METERS, PAR 4
The opening hole at Palmares – a long, uphill par four – introduces golfers in a striking way to the beautiful and formidable test of golf to come. The fairway appears wide and welcoming from the tee but good golfers should focus on reaching the elevated left center target.
However, play too far left and a lone greenside bunker will make the long approach shot even more demanding. A brave tee shot played toward a cluster of fairway bunkers nestled into the right hillside will result in the most advantageous position from which to approach the green. The green complex, crafted into its setting, creates a challenge for a clear club selection.
A single large bunker provides the only visual anchor to the putting surface which perches along the crest of a soft ridge. The “horizon line” green, which slopes from right to left, will make judgment of distance and depth difficult but rewards careful pin position analysis.
HOLE 2: 215 METERS, PAR 3
Let the wind be your guide from the tee. The second is a long downhill par 3 playing into the prevailing wind typically quartering from right to left. Tee shots played low and under the wind to the left side of the fairway will feed onto the large putting surface. A lone bunker awaits tee shots that fail to recognize the cross-slope in the fairway or that overcompensate for the wind.
HOLE 3: 370 METERS, PAR 4
Reversing course and playing back up the hillside, the third hole presents the first real opportunity to partner with the prevailing wind. Challenge the fairway bunker left and the diagonal putting surface will be much more gracious in receiving your approach shot as the deep bunker at right front will be taken out of play.
With nothing but blue sky as a backdrop for the left half of the green, the approach shot can be unnerving. A stark grass wall protects the entire left side of the green and will repel all golf shots just short of the green.
HOLE 4: 544 METERS, PAR 5
With the town of Alvor glowing white in the distance, the par 5, #4 cascades through a deep protected valley. From the elevated tee, the natural contours are very receptive and will propel tee shots downward. Players can harness the prevailing winds to their advantage. Following a straightforward tee shot, the real depth of the hole is rewarded from the second shot onward. The two bunkers located just short of the putting surface clearly divide the second landing area.
Whether the golfer is attempting to reach the green in two strokes or carefully setting up a deft third pitch shot, these two hazards dictate strategic options. Carry the left fairway bunker and the large greenside bunker becomes a less foreboding hazard. Or, play to the right, and the next shot must carry the entire expanse of sand to the green that slopes back-right to front-left. Long-hitting players may reach the putting surface with two well thought out and executed shots if they use the fairway to maximum advantage. Poor approach shots that carry all the way onto the green may run through the putting surface into a deep collection hollow behind the green.
HOLE 5: 358 METERS, PAR 4
Playing from an elevated tee directly toward the blue Alvor, this medium length par four was designed to use scale and space to keep the golfers off-balance. The green appears very large — especially from the tee — for a hole of this length. However, the bold contours of the putting surface divide the large green into two smaller putting zones, requiring golfers to play to the appropriate green section in order to score well. The front portion of the green is bracketed by three small, deep bunkers defining the target. In contrast, the rear portion is defended only by spill-off areas that encircle the putting surface.
From the tee, the wide fairway banks off the hillside to the right. An ample fairway target allows proficient players to shape tee shots from right to left between the two bunkers projecting inward from the right while a single bunker lurks to the left of the fairway. These bunkers visually pinch the fairway, masking the expanse and landing area between them. More aggressive players Will discover that the landing area actually does pinch for the length of their shots, requiring distances and accuracy.
HOLE 6: 355 METERS, PAR 4
Suddenly the golfer encounters the wind swept dunesland holes firsthand at the sixth hole of Palmares. With the background of the Algarve coast, coastal dunes, and the town of Alvor distracting the players’ attention, the tee shot here provides options as numerous as the views are expansive. Focus on the lone but effective bunker in the middle of the fairway to choose lines of attack. Try to play long, right or through the small alley to the left of this focal hazard.
The best line of the day will depend upon where the flagstick is located and the winds. The island putting surface is surrounded by trouble. Sand, native grasses, deep fairway collection areas, and rough all necessitate a precise approach to this minuscule green.
HOLE 7: 196 METERS, PAR 3
Turning away from the ocean, golfers are presented with a very strong par three.
From the tee, the view is both gorgeous and disconcerting. Dunes extend from the railroad line along the entire left side of the golf hole. The most prominent feature is the large dune bunker left of the green. This bunker defends the entire left side of the putting surface, while the wind — typically blowing from the right – will tend to push the tee shots toward this huge hazard. The green surface abutting this dune bunker pitches forward to receive low run-up shots. The green falls away into low areas right and at the rear. Because the right of the hole is carefully tucked behind the native hillside shrubs and trees, rolling chipping areas only reveal themselves once golfers reach the green complex. These chipping hollows provide a much greater area, in fact, to recover from a mis-hit shot to the right. But if your ball comes to rest in these areas, it will require skillful bump and run shots from awkward lies toward the shallow presentation of the putting surface.
HOLE 8: 505 METERS, PAR 5
The eighth hole climbs out of the dunes and rises up through a heavily wooded corridor toward the upper elevations of the site. This double dogleg par five will, for the most part, be heroic, and play as a three shot hole. Because of the Sharp rises of twenty-three meters into a sometimes strong head wind, this hole will play long. The lone fairway bunker, visible from the tee shot, provides an aiming point. Play toward this target and shape your shot from left to right using the natural down slope to your advantage. From this point golfers are presented with several options. The elevated putting surface on a shelf with the entire left falling away sharply. All but the best struck shots from a long distance out will be repelled from the green. The fairway bunkers short of the green surrounds dictate that thoughtful golfers play short to obtain the desired approach angle and distance. Or else, challenge the left fairway bunker to reduce the distance for the next shot. The harder a golfer tries to reduce the distance of the third shot, the more potential trouble he brings into play.
HOLE 9: 400 METERS, PAR 4
The closing hole on the Alvor Course presents a tee shot unlike any other at Palmares as a collection of tall pines stand at attention and dutifully screen from view any clear view of the green from the elevated tee. Bend your tee shot from left to right around these trees – use the sweeping fairway as welland the green will be revealed. Two deep bunkers flank the entry ramp onto to the putting surface left and right. While the green is large, the uphill approach shot provides little guidance as to the real dimensions of the target. A series of chipping areas encircle the back of the green and will gladly collect approach shots that overshoot the green.