Located between Lagos and Alvor on Portugal's sunny Algarve coast, Onyria Palmares Beach and Golf Resort offers play on 27 holes that form the core of a gorgeous upscale residential and resort community. Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ II) worked closely with the owners to transform an existing 18-hole golf course into a 27-hole complex that blends seamlessly into a new master plan encompassing a luxury hotel and enhanced real estate options. Owners also envisioned a course that would rank among the top golf offerings in the entire region.
RTJ II met these challenges by pursuing its long-held design philosophy of listening to the land. Founder and Master Architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., says "Palmares is the perfect course for showcasing how we work with the best features of the natural landscape. Rather than imposing a 'signature' look upon this gorgeous parcel of coastal property, we let the land determine what the course would look like. We fit the golf holes into the topography so they appear as though they've been there for centuries."
Palmares plays through three distinctive settings, and the separate, returning nine-hole loops can be combined into several equally-challenging 18-hole layouts. The Lagos (Lakes) Nine begins in parkland and presents two lakes for players to negotiate before the golf holes transition into open dunesland on their way back to a forested setting on the final hole. The Alvor (Trees) Nine navigates through mature pines and many holes climb hillsides or descend through intimate valleys. The Praia (Beach) Nine is the most linkslike of the three, with four holes bracketed by beach and a rail line—some of the only holes in the Algarve playing across natural seaside dunes. Jones says, "We like to think of Palmares as having multiple personalities—in a good way! We were given land with great variety, and we used it to create a golf course that expresses different moods and characters and feels natural and whole."
Overall, the course mixes views of the glowing white town of Alvor, the Lagos cliffs and Bay, and the dramatic Atlantic coastline. It presents optical puzzles, occasional blind shots, well- crafted hazards (such as pot bunkers) that dictate strategy, and plenty of tightly-mown collection areas calling for short-game wizardry. Wind is a factor and—as in the British tradition— many holes encourage play along the ground.