The Praia Course
HOLE 19: 347 METERS, PAR 4
The view from the tee, overlooking the entire southern coast of Meia Praia and the golf course below, is truly stunning. The aesthetic dimension of Palmares can both be an attraction and distraction for those who lose focus on their shot-making.
This sharp downhill dogleg right par four negotiates across a steep hillside and presents yet another test of blind faith, in the traditions of the original European courses.
From the tee, a conservative approach uses the downhill slope playing straight. Fairway contouring will propel golf shots played to the right half of the fairway down the hillside, resulting in a shortened second shot into the green, although you may be faced with a difficult lie to hit the required highly soft approach.
Faith becomes the fifteenth club should you choose to cut the inside corner of the dogleg. Commit yourself to the full reward by cutting the corner confidently. Unseen bunkers and rough defend the landing area between these two tee options. Is the reward great enough to warrant the risk?
HOLE 20: 513 METERS, PAR 5
Links golf through coastal sand dunes at its finest! The first of four holes located across the rail line presents an introduction to a truly rare golf experience.
The exposed nature of this portion of the course embraces the wind as one of the key “tools of Defense” on this short par 5. Study the contouring of the fairway and use the roll of the land as you see fit. There is not correct line of play here.
The target is a shallow and wide green set on a diagonal peaking out from behind the dunes just slightly. Approach shots must be precise as the green falls away from the player deciding a series of terraces from right to left behind the dune at the front left of the green.
HOLE 21: 142 METERS, PAR 3
While slight in length, this hole no push-over. The test in conquering this small par 3 in multi-faceted. The putting surface is small with internal target areas further defined by subtle contouring. The wind will push tee shots toward the coast shrinking the room error in distance control. A large waster bunker area protects the right side of the green with a small pot bunker front left and a blow-out in the dunes just long of the green.
HOLE 22: 529 METERS, PAR 5
With the sound of crashing waves fighting for the golfer’s attention off the right side of the teeing area, this long par 5 demands focus. While the fairway extends well left of the landing area, play should focus towards the large dunes that divides holes 22 from hole 20. The wind will typical push tee shots played along this line back into the fairway and away from the dunes. Over-exuberant tee shots played along the right side of the hole might find it difficult to remain in the short grass.
From the first landing area, a glimpse of the green plants the seed of going for this green in two strokes. There will be days when it is possible with the assistance of the wind, but be forewarned, the slope within the green is slight and stopping lengthy approach shots will be difficult.
The green is surrounded by fairway collection areas. The approach into the green in front is steep, to both deaden “Hot” approach shots as well as to repel shot that are not struck solidly. An elevated ramp ties the green into the fairway from the second landing are, providing thoughtful players the opportunity to either run low shots onto the green as well as through the air.
HOLE 23: 240 METERS, PAR 3
The longest par 3 at Palmares will present a challenge greater than just length as the prevailing wind will defend the target vigilantly. The large ‘Gull-wing” style green presents three main cupping areas.
The back right portion of the putting surface is elevated and protected in front by marshland, behind by dunes and at the left by the internal contouring of the green. This portion of the green is only accessible by aerial assault from the tee.
A low, running tee shot will be a valuable asset as the left side of the green and surround pitched onto the putting surface and will feed golf shots into the middle of the green.
HOLE 24: 306 METERS, PAR 4
The shortest par four at Palmares again embraces the dunesland. Golfers are enticed to attack the small green directly through a narrow alley between dunes. Playing into the prevailing wind this line of play leaves no room for error. Far left flagstick locations are most visible from the right, but approach shots must be played from a sunken bowl offering potentially awkward side-hill or downhill lies.
HOLE 25: 317 METERS, PAR 4
In true links fashion, golfers encounter an obstacle course of dunes and turf unfurling from tee to green. Each player must navigate strategically a route that is best suited to his game and the conditions of the day. The green is shallow yet wide, and oriented on a slight diagonal from left to right. Tightly mown chipping hollows surround the green and stretch into the putting surface, collecting mis-hit approach shots that do not properly respect the heavily contoured putting surface.
HOLE 26: 136 METERS, PAR 3
Very good and short par threes have a memorable place in the history of golf. While minimal in stature, Palmares’ version of the short par three is monumental in challenge. The tiny green floats atop a sea of sand and waiving grasses. A small, deep, hidden pot bunker protects the back left of the green. These defences require a lofted and accurate approach shot into the prevailing wind.
HOLE 27: 466 METERS, PAR 5
Transitioning from the duneslands, this medium length par five plays sharply uphill through a deep, protected valley. A large bunker is positioned on the outside of the dogleg on the tee shot. Try to shape your tee shot left around this dogleg, or your drive may fall prey to the strong left-to-right slope and run off the fairway.
The fairway area short of and around the green is littered with bunkers, creating multiple target options. Conservative play dictates laying up short of the bunkering thus taking potential penalty out of play.
The putting surface is large and deep, characterized by two parallel plateaus that dissolve together in the rear of the green. Careful study of the flagstick location is crucial for successfully reaching the correct plateau, and will require different shots depending upon where the hole is cut. Play to the wrong portion of the green will forcefully reveal that the challenges of avoiding a three-putt will require a correct line and stroking the approach putt with deft feel and confidence.