The Laguna Golf Course has earned a reputation as being a somewhat unique offering within the Vilamoura golf portfolio. While its many water hazards and few trees set it apart, it truly finds its individuality in the number of holes which convey characteristics of a traditional links layout. American golf course architect Joseph Lee was given the responsibility for setting out the Laguna Course over low-lying coastal terrain, and in this setting was able to establish 18 holes which offer a wide variety of playing conditions.
The course has been continually improved since the first ball was struck in 1990, although it retains all of the appeal of a modern test of golf, through which the strategic positioning of bunkers and a number of water obstacles demand accuracy of play. The Laguna Course shares a well-proportioned and welcoming clubhouse with the neighbouring Millennium Course.
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Laguna Clube de Golfe is just 20 minutes drive from Faro Airport along the A22 motorway.
Exit Faro on the main road alongside the airport roundabout and follow the signs for Faro and A22. Continue along this road for approx 2.5 km and take the second exit on the right signposted A22 Lisboa & Portimão to join a dual carriageway. After approx 4 km move to the left hand lane and take the left fork on the dual carriageway following the sign A22/Lisboa/ Portimão/ Albufeira. After a further 3 km take the right hand exit off the dual carriageway following the sign for A22 Lisboa/Portimão/Albufeira.
Leave the A22 at the Boliqueime /Vilamoura exit, then follow directions to Vilamoura. On entering Vilamoura, follow the signs to the Laguna Clube de Golfe.
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This opening PAR 5 at 470 metres off the white tee may require a drive with draw to avoid a single fairway bunker to the right. A lay-up second shot may be advisable as five bunkers starting 85 metres from the green can trap off-line shots. More sand awaits errant approaches at each corner of the large, split level green.
A short slightly downhill PAR 3 follows, but take enough club to carry over the huge bunker guarding the left front of the putting surface. Two further greenside bunkers are located to the right and back.
Now we come to a sequence of three complicated holes due mainly to water hazards. This medium PAR 4 accompanies a lake on the right starting about 160 metres short of the green and the fairway slopes down towards the water. A bunker left can hamper those favouring that side from the tee. The fairway funnels towards the slightly elevated green flanked by a bunker and the lake.
At 196 metres off the white tee (but only 150 from the yellow) this PAR 3 is a test of nerves as another lake looms closely on the right. The narrow entrance at the left of the upward sloping green is guarded by two bunkers so a high trajectory tee-shot is normally needed.
This is an unusual 315 metres dogleg right PAR 4 and a memorable hole where both the tee-shot and approach demand almost pinpoint accuracy. A long iron or short fairway wood shot over the lake is recommended in order to land short of three fairway bunkers. This leaves an approach over the edge of the same lake that encroaches into the fairway. There are twin bunkers left and back of the green that rises up to the back.
Another short PAR 4, and potential birdie hole provided the tee-shot stays clear of two bunkers to the left and the short wedge to the green is on target. Two sand traps guard the rear of the narrow green.
A fairway wood played right of centre should steer away from the cross bunkers on this 321metres hole. This will set up the required approach with a lofted club to clear the bunker defending the front of the raised green which narrows as it rises toward the back where bunkers lie ominously on either side.
Gradual dogleg left PAR 5 where the drive must negotiate three bunkers at the top of a gentle slope. The fairway then turns downwards, exposing the job in hand: staying out of three more bunkers from about 50-90 metres short of the elevated saucer-shaped green which is almost encircled by four more traps.
With out-of-bounds and a bunker left together with water to the right, a well positioned drive on this PAR 4 is a must. An ancient scoop-wheel well has been retained as a mid-fairway hazard 68 metres short of the green but the lake extends threateningly up to a few metres from the right hand front of the putting surface. A limited bale-out area exists to the left but take care again to stay in bounds.
The hole stretches away from the high tees to the plain below, and appears to encourage two long draws to attack the green which is bunkered all along the left approach. The wind helps the draw on the tee shot to set up the best angle into the green. But drawing of the approach shot must not be overdone for the green, 45 metres long, is narrow and slopes down to the left. When any cross breeze is blowing a controlled fade is a better option to hold the second shot up on the green.
This 372 metres PAR 4 has a large fairway bunker on the right, shared with the 16th hole, that includes two grassy islands, and another small bunker left to restrict the landing area. Although reachable in two, the second shot requires plenty carry to clear a centrally placed bunker close to the green. There is more sand at each side of the back of the green.
The stroke index of 5 is indicative of the difficulty of this PAR-3, 181 metres from the back tee. Most of the distance to the upward sloping green is over a lake, and a pair of bunkers left and right await wayward shots.
Rated stroke index 1, this is the longest PAR 4 at 405 metres. An out-of-bounds fence and single bunker on the left are the only hazards from the tee but the long second to the raised green really needs to be drawn round a large bunker fronting the green as the carry for average players is well-nigh impossible without a good following wind. The lake on the right near the green rarely comes into play.
A conservative tee-shot is normally the key on this short PAR 4 which bends round to the right alongside a lake. There are however a couple of bunkers to dodge on the left, within short iron distance of the green. Once you are in a suitable position, the approach only needs to clear the edge of the lake and of course keep out of the three greenside bunkers.
To score well on this unconventional PAR 5 the drive must be long enough and away from two right hand side bunkers to enable you to clear the water on the second shot. The lake starts on the left but later narrows and crosses to the right under a bridge about 170 metres from the green and then accompanies the right hand side very close to the putting surface. The second should be placed left for the ideal approach shot.
Although there are bunkers to attract errant tee-shots right and left on this 354 metres PAR 4, they are off the wide fairway. The best angle in is from the right as this opens up the long green guarded by two bunkers left and right.
A somewhat daunting PAR 3 with the severely sloping green nestled between a lake on the left and a bunker opposite. Although only 153 metres off the white tee, many golfers play short and right, hoping for a good chip and putt to score PAR.
A straightforward PAR 4 finishing hole although a few trees on the right can obstruct an off-line tee-shot. Without too much of a head wind you can risk going for the green in two although four bunkers around it leave only a small entrance at the right hand side.