The remodelling and extension of this classic 1936 Mackenzie Ross 9 hole par 32 short course into a full international standard 18 hole par 72 golf course forms a key part of a major leisure project by Aquanattur. The magnificent belle epoch Vidago Palace hotel and parque - which is renowned for its sparkling mineral waters - reopened in October 2010 to coincide with the centenary of the hotel (which was originally commissioned by the King of Portugal as an opulent summer home....but he was deposed in October 1910, the day before it was due to open!)

World Golf Awards 2014 the best golf hotel in Portugal
Architectural Digest includes Vidago Palace among '8 of the World's Most Beautiful Golf Courses'
Condé Nast Travellers magazine* rates Vidago as one of five of the best European golf resorts and refers to the golf course as 'the crowning glory of a hotel built for a king'.
One of International Banker magazine Europe's Top Luxury Golf Resorts "While the hotel itself can utterly impress even the most discerning and critical guest, the gem of the property sits among its expansive greens..."
Splendia Luxury & Character Hotels** rate Vidago as one of the top 10 best golf hotels in the world.
top 100 golf courses of the world note that "Cameron Powell are building a reputation for breathing life into old, fallow Mackenzie Ross golf courses. Make no mistake, Vidago Palace is a truly remarkable property and the newly remodelled course is the perfect golfing complement to this luxurious five-star resort"

The original 1936 short course (9 holes, par 32, 1986 metres) was designed by Mackenzie Ross, best known for the Ailsa at Turnberry. Cameron Powell combined, reshaped and integrated these original 9 holes to form 6 revised holes and added 12 completely new holes to create a full 18 hole 6,308 metre, par 72 international standard golf course.

Although much of the original routing and most of the green/tee locations have been retained from the old course, the new greens and teeing areas are much larger, with greens up from a tiny 200m2 to 600-800m2.....still respecting the scale of the course but more in keeping with the modern game.

The 12 completely new holes have been built on adjoining land within the Oura valley and up into the craggy hillside, creating a series of dramatic and challenging closing holes.

A key motif of the course is the use throughout of the local pink granite stone walling. Redundant field walls have been salvaged and re-used. The dilapidated walls of the stream, or ribeira - which runs for 2km through the centre of the course - have been completely reinstated and renewed along the complete length in local stone; each of the 74 tees have granite support walls; and the golf course perimeter walls have also been completely reinstated and renewed. This monumental task has helped to create an almost timeless quality to the site, with the cascading serpentine of six elevated stone-walled tees at the 18th hole providing a particularly impressive and memorable pièce de résistance.

Next to the first tee is 'Fonte No.3' one of several original mineral water pavilions within the parque. This classically-styled building has to be in the running for ‘the world’s most beautiful starters hut’.

The 17th 'Eagles Nest' is already being described as the most striking golf hole in Portugal. The dramatic views from the elevated tees - over the Vidago parque to the Santuário do Alto do Côto in the distance - are spectacular and the long par 5 undulates all the way down from the very highest point of the golf course to its very lowest. 

Many of the features and much of the character of the original course were inevitably lost over the preceding 70 years. Even so - as with our earlier Mackenzie Ross project at Furnas in the Azores - we have strived to retain the integrity of the original design and to consciously reflect its aesthetics, playability and spirit within the reconfigured old course and particularly in the 12 new holes. We hope everyone will agree that we have managed to capture and instil the feel of a classic golf course for the 21st century.

short 9 hole course mackenzie ross 1936 | 2010 cameron powell 18 hole course
Click on either of the images below to enlarge
For more information, visit the Vidago Palace Hotel website
Par Length S.I. Original Hole Original  Par Original  Length Notes
1 4 395m
8 1 4 318m This was the original 1936 starting hole but was changed to No.2 when the clubhouse was relocated in the 1990's. We reinstated it as the opening hole thus reviving the original clubhouse building - the magnificent Fonte No. 3 - as probably the world's most beautiful 'starters hut'. 
2 5 465m 14 9 4 239m Originally a par 4, this hole has been lengthened to create a deceptively tricky par 5. The stone-walled ribeira (stream) - which runs through the valley for the entire length of the golf course - is in play on the right for most of length of this hole and leaves very little room for error to the side of the green. 
3 3 165m 10 6 3 171m A very attractive par 3 and the only hole on the course which is shorter than the original....but with the widened ribeira sitting right in front of the green this hasn't particularly helped to make the hole any easier. 
4 5 485m 6 7
The original par 4 & par 3 holes have been combined to create a challenging par 5 hole. The ribeira runs along the right of the fairway and then meanders across in front of the green approach....tempting enough to try for the green in two but tricky enough to choose a 'safety first' lay up, but still with a birdie chance.
5 4 400m 2       The first of the completely new holes is a long par 4 emerging from the forested parque into a classic Oura valley scene of wooded and open hillsides, farmland and nestled quintas. At 400m, the length alone makes this a tough par 4 but with a bunker set directly in front of the green you will need to really pull the stops out for a good second shot right into the heart of the green....'daisy cutters' are not recommended.
6 4 370m 12       After one of the most difficult holes on the course, a nice, relaxing par 4.....but watch out for the traditional stone well and canal just to the right of the green.
7 3 154m 18       The shortest - and rated  easiest - hole on the course, but if you overclub and run through the green you'll be in the stone-walled ribeira.....and in deep trouble.
8 4 350m 16       Tee off over the ribeira to a generous landing area. The concealed canal running across the fairway shouldn't really cause any is really just a nice feature of the site rather than a hazard of the course. The ribeira runs along the left side of the hole and comes well into play on the left of the green.
9 4 395m 4       The ribeira continues along the left of the hole before snaking diagonally across the fairway and around the right side of the approach and green....dramatically limiting the potential room for manoeuver on your second shot.
Front 9 36 3,179m     32 1,986m  
10 4 340m 13       The elevated tees are wonderfully located next to the beautiful Fonte Salus, one of several mineral water pavilions located throughout the parque. The ribeira runs along the left side of the hole with woodland on the right. An old stone-walled canal runs across the front of the 'bobble' shots are a no-no. On the other hand, if you are too lofty you may end up on the linked 13th green. It certainly makes for a thoughful approach shot, particularly if the pin is near the front of the green. 
11 4 335m 9       A lovely hole - with the line of the dogleg fortuitously marked by a magnificent lone quercus ilex - playing gently uphill into an elevated green carved out of the mountainside. The second largest green on the course gives you plenty to aim at but go a bit too far left and it is a very long way back up.
12 3 169m 15       A beautifully shaped par 3, played downhill to a well protected and hugely elevated green sitting high above the 13th tees. Go through the green and you may need pitons & crampons to get back.
13 4 345m 11       A reasonably straightforward par 4 but with the ribeira in play on the right, along the complete length of the hole. This is the last of the eight holes variously influenced by the ribeira....thus denoting the end of the fairly gentle valley holes and the start of the more mountainous terrain. 
Donald Ross has no direct connection to Vidago and is not, to my knowledge, any relation to Mackenzie Ross, who designed the original 9 hole short course at Vidago. However, he was one of the all-time great golf course architects (over 600 courses, including Pinehurst no.2). He particularly advocated a mix of par 3, 4 & 5 for the final holes: "I like to include long and short par-4s, a par-3 and a par-5, with one of the closing holes being heroic". Well, the final 5 holes certainly meet - indeed exceed - his criteria. The 14th is a lovely short par-4 which sets you up for the final four holes....which are all heroic.
14 4 305m 17       A nice, simple, gentle uphill short par 4....just what you need to fortify you for the closing holes.
15 5 530m 5       The first of the 'heroic' closing holes is an interesting par 5, climbing up to a plateau with mountain to your left and valley to your right....pinpoint accuracy will be required but there are some friendly bunkers to help you out should you stray too far right. You need to be on the first plateau for a clear view of the second landing zone, where the renovated Fonte Salus gradually emerges into view as you come over the ridge. The green is down in a cross-valley with a rock face immediately behind and trees and a stream to the right. There is plenty of space to the left of the green....but you may not want to go there.
16 4 365m 1 2
The original short par 4 2nd and fiendish par 3 3rd have been combined to form what is probably the most difficult hole on the course. Don't use the back tee if you suffer from vertigo. The original green was so steep that the grass had to be cut at fairway length to prevent the ball rolling back to the tee....and the new one still has a wee bit of a slope to it.
17 5 525m 3 4
Christened 'Eagles Nest', this long par 5 is already being talked of as the most striking golf hole in Portugal. The dramatic views from the elevated tees - over the parque and the palace to the Santuário do Alto do Côto in the distance - are spectacular. The hole undulates all the way down from the highest point to the lowest point of the course. The second shot is the only 'blind' shot on the whole course and a perfect line is essential to avoid the trouble lurking in the rocks and trees on either side of the steeply sloping fairway.

There is now a memorial bench on this hole commemorating Bob Cameron, Fellow of the PGA, who died during the construction of the course and whose 'larger than life' persona is greatly missed by all who knew him.
18 3 215m 7
      There may possibly be the odd raised eyebrow at a par 3 finishing hole but as has famously already been said: "If you've got a problem a par 3 finish, just imagine finishing on the 12th at Augusta".

Par 3 or not, at 215m from the back tee this hole is by no means a gimme. The dramatic and impressive cascading serpentine of six stone-walled tees offers a multitude of routes into the green. The green itself is well protected by a series of strategically placed pot bunkers; there are trees and rocks to the left; and at the back and right side of the green there are steep embankments. A great looking hole and definitely not a soft finish.
Back 9 36 3,129m     32 1,986m  
18  72 6,308m     64 3,962m  

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