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Vale do Lobo Royal Pro Overview

by the Course Professional(s)

Hole Professional Tips
1 It was Jack Nicklaus who said the toughest shot in golf is the opening shot of the round. So it is common for course designers to make things easy for the guy on the first tee: the opening drive on the Old Course at St. Andrews is the best example. But not all courses are as generous and this tee-shot is far from straightforward. A 430-metre par five to a slightly elevated green takes some reaching and depends upon a long and straight drive. The rough is punitive, the trees are downright obstructive. This is a tough start.
2 Standing on the second tee, the players will exhale gently as they survey what lies in front of them. The fairway is open and inviting, the green less than 300 metres away. To go for the green with driver or lay up with an iron, that will be the question. The best policy may be to get into perfect position for a 9-iron or wedge approach to the green. It is one of the course’s best opportunities to make birdie.
3 The third fairway is not wide. Anything wayward to the left carries the risk of going out of bounds. Miss the fairway at all and forget about reaching the green in two. Yet those who hit driver and keep it straight will be rewarded with an approach shot that is not overly difficult. Maybe 7-iron to a green that is so invitingly positioned as to seem unmissable. Tough but far from impossible.
4 Vale do Lobo’s championship course teases all the time. There are a few short par-4s that are almost reachable in one and seem perfectly straightforward for those who chose to lay up. Yet the straightforwardness is more apparent than real. This is a fine example of what we speak of. Players may hit driver or 3-wood to take the early bunkers out of play but must be careful not to get so close to the green they cannot play a proper approach shot. The key is not to be above the hole or, worse still, through the green because the back to front slope is severe.
5 First par 5 and reachable with two well-struck shots. Many will try to stay left side of the fairway to give a better view of the hole for the approach shot but that will make it a slightly longer shot. Those hitting their second shots from the right side will have to carry the wasteland and the front bunker that guards the green. Still others will seek their birdie in the conservative style: two straight shots, a wedge to the green and a putt.
6 This is a good par 4. Driver is the obvious option off the tee and for the long hitters, which is almost everyone nowadays, the temptation is to carry the bunker on the left and take advantage of the sloping fairway. Second shot is interesting because the green is long and narrow and it bends slightly to the left. Depending upon the pin position, it can be difficult to get the approach shot close to the flag. Four here is rarely a bad score.
7 Standing on the tee of this par 3, things look pretty hairy. A short or mid iron is needed to hit the green, water at the front and bunker at the back. A solid shot is needed in the middle of the green. The green can be tricky if you leave your tee shot above the hole.
8 A wonderful dog leg left, elevated tee, your tee shot must be just right of the bunker on the corner of the dog leg, and long enough to land on that the top of the hill. Too short off of the tee and you will leave yourself with one of the hardest second shots on the course. The second shot must be aimed a little on the right side of the green as the green slopes towards the left hand side bunker. This is one of the hardest greens on the course so be warned best to finish left of the flag.
9 Fantastic par 3, this is a semi island green, water _ of the way around it. So water, water is every where! A mid iron is needed. There is a bail out area in the right, but will leave you a nerve racking little pitch or chip. Best way to play it is to hit the centre of the green. The green is bigger than it looks from the tee. Good luck!
10 Slight dog leg to the right, the green is down the bottom of the slope, invisible from the tee. Tee shot must be between the two bunkers and long enough to be able to see the green, otherwise you will have a blind second shot. For the long hitters, if you go to far left off the tee, the ball will run into big trouble. The best line is left edge of the right hand bunkers. Second shot is a short iron to a large green. Great birdie opportunity.
11 When you play this hole you will have to play it as a par 5. It is a dog leg right at the very end of the hole. The tee shot is pretty straight forward, one bunker on the left, after which you have to be very careful of the two water hazards. Your second shot is best played to the corner just to the left of the corner bunkers, and then a short iron is left to the tricky green. If you go too far with your second shot, you will find the water for sure. The long hitters can make this green in two hits; the line for the second shot is way right over the big slope on the right. Very hard shot, you might make a birdie if you are lucky. Not to be taken on for the faint hearted.
12 The view from this elevated tee of this par 4 is impressive and it shows the need for the tee-shot to fly the valley and reach the top of the hill. Should this be achieved, the player has a clear view of the green for the approach shot. In normal conditions, reaching that part of the fairway should not be too difficult but if the wind blows, even moderately, this will become a different kettle of fish. Anything short of the top of the hill will mean a blind approach shot and all manner of unpleasant possibilities.
13 Though the course encourages the use of the driver, it also puts a premium on accuracy. This hole cries out for a long and straight tee-shot, aimed to bisect the bunkers on each side of the fairway. Provided the drive is good, the approach shot is inviting as it is to an elevated but open green. Bunkers to the left and right and at the back of the green will pick up errant shots but the key to playing this hole well is getting into the right position with the tee-shot.
14 Dog-legs don’t come much better than this par 4. The tee stands high above the L-shaped fairway and brings into stark relief the dark possibilities. Use driver or 3-wood and accept the need to cut the drive around the corner or take an iron and settle for a position at the corner, leaving a 7 or 8-iron approach. Any second shot that goes past the pin or misses the green on the left will be a problem as the severe left to right slope makes this one of the toughest putting surfaces on the course.
15 When the players walk onto the 15th tee and survey the scene before them, they will be astonished by its beauty. The green lies about 300 metres away, seeming to sit on blue ocean beyond. The scene will lift their spirits, as will the challenge that lies before them. This is definitely one of the less difficult par 4s, a short hole with an almost flat green. The longest of the long hitters will be tempted to go for the green but will be discouraged by the sprawling wasteland that must be carried. A safer option is an iron to the generous fairway and wedge to the green. Every player will see this as a birdie hole but the more perceptive will recall that when the wind blows, some players hit their tee-shots out of bounds on this hole.
16 If the tenth is a straightforward par 4, it is also the calm before the storm. As well as being one of the most spectacular and breathtaking par 3s in world golf, this is also one of the toughest. Depending on the precise placing of the tee, the 16th can play 214 metres. That is a long way when the route is along a cliff edge and strewn with danger. If the prevailing wind blows, some shots will start out over Vale do Lobo’s magnificent beach and God knows where they will end up. Hitting the green is tough and then there is the problem of a steeply sloping green. A hole made to lift the hearts of those who watch while breaking the hearts of those who play.
17 Not exactly a dawdle after the nerve-jangling experience of the 16th. The uphill fairway is not wide and to have the best chance of a good approach, it is better to play down the right side. Anything left obscures the view of the green and will make it difficult to get near the left pin position. Neither is getting on the green sufficient here because the two-tiered nature of the putting surface means it is essential to hit the right part of the green. Not an easy par 4.
18 An iron will suffice off the tee leaving just a short nine-iron or wedge approach. Though it will seem an easy enough birdie hole to the professionals, making that score relies upon the quality of the approach. The green is narrow and it slopes steeply from left to right. Anything hit left of the pin will leave the most treacherous of putts and is unlikely to result in a birdie.
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