Oceanico Millennium Course Review
There’s a reason the Algarve is arguably the most popular golfing destination in Europe and it is because of the high number of top quality golf courses. Vilamoura in particular has a variety of top courses to choose from including the Oceanico Group’s offering of the Millennium course.
The Oceanico resort is just a 30-minute drive from Faro airport and is perfect for all types of golfer from those who only play on their holidays to those on a jolly-boys outing.
As you arrive at the front of the clubhouse, you are met by a member of staff who will offer to take your clubs round to the front while you head into the clubhouse to check in and prepare for your round. The clubhouse in fact has two separate receptions as the Laguna course is also based here so make sure you look out for the red signs that signal the Millennium course. As I duly found out, it is quite hard to check into a round on the Millennium course while stood at the Laguna course reception.
Once you’ve checked in you will be given a ticket to give to the starter (and to the staff in the buggy office if one is required) and then you can make you way out of the back of the clubhouse, which opens up to an impressive view across the two courses and practice ground. You then have two options; you can have an ice-cold beverage overlooking the two courses in the beaming sunshine, or you can take advantage of the huge putting green, chipping green and the grass driving range.
As you arrive at the first tee the starter will greet you and if like my golfing partner and I, you will meet the other two-ball you will be paired with. Once you get past the awkward start up chit chat, make sure you listen to the starter as he will outline a few local rules, tell you how long the round is expected to take and possibly offer a few helpful tips.
There are four par 3’s on the Millennium course and all of require an accurate tee shot otherwise you can be severely punished.
The first of the par 3’s comes at the 3rd hole and it is arguably the toughest of the four. The hole is a 179m long and is entirely tree-lined. Its length is what often catches out the higher-handicapper as a lot of golfers struggle to reach the green that is protected on either side by two bunkers.
The 6th hole offers a completely different challenge. Despite only being 137m long, it is essential that you find the putting surface. There is a bunker to the right of the green and a pond on the left waiting to gobble up anything short and left.
On the 142m 13th hole you tend to find the wind is blowing behind you which sometimes makes it hard to stop the ball on the green. A club shorter tends to be the best option and the front left bunker tends to be the usual bailout shot.
The final par 3 comes at the 15th hole and is regarded as the easiest hole on the course. The hole is just 119m but club selection is still key as the green is relatively large.
The course is very much a case of two nines with the front nine being the more picturesque of two as many of the holes are lined with impressive tall pine trees. The back nine is open and gives you more opportunity to let rip with the driver.
The 1st hole gets you thinking straight away. Despite only being 300m long, you have a decision to make on the first tee. Do you hit driver and cut the corner of the out of bounds on the right or do you play safe with a wood or an iron? The second shot is uphill so again gets your brain working early on in the round.
The 5th hole is rightly stroke index 1 as it plays 390m with a slight dogleg left. To add to its length, the fairway is tight and lined with tall pines so an accurate tee shot is required in order to have any chance of making par on the hole.
The 7th hole is another par 4 that is lined by colossal pines that can be quite daunting for some golfers. If you take a step back on the 5th and 7th tee you can really appreciate what a good looking golf course the Millennium course is but don’t let it distract you as the pines are waiting to catch any slightly wayward drive.
Another stand out par 4 would have to be the 312m 14th hole. Despite being short and downhill, the hole is actually quite challenging. The fairway is tight and there is out of bounds both left and right. It takes a brave golfer to hit a driver but if it pays off you can be left with just a short pitch shot. Playing safe with an iron can also prove testing as two bunkers on the left and right sit perfectly on lay-up distance. Finally, the green slopes quite sharply from the right to the left so putting isn’t easy either.
The final par 4 comes at the 17th and at first glance would assume it is a hole from the neighbouring Laguna course. The drive has to be caught right out of the screws for most golfers if you want to clear the water that sits directly in front of you. You will quite often see most golfers bailout left into the bunkers and rough, which leaves a longer second shot. The green itself is reasonably large and a good drive means nothing if you then find the wrong end of the green.
The first of the par 5’s comes at the 5th hole and, unlike many par 5’s, it is a real test of your game. The drive is again lined by tall pines and requires an accurate tee shot up the hill. The second shot is then blind and is only reachable if you hit a long straight drive. Most people have no choice but to lay up especially if it is your first time on the course as you won’t be aware of the slopes and undulations that await over the hill.
The 8th hole is definitely a birdie opportunity. The hole tends to play downwind and the fairway is wide-open meaning you can open up the shoulders and let rip. For the long hitters this can leave a short iron to the large green.
The 11th hole is another straightforward par 5. From the tee you can see the green in the distance but it is important that you miss the bunkers with the tee shot in order to have any chance of reaching it.
The final par 5 comes at the last hole and offers a stern test of accuracy and concentration. Out of bounds runs along the right hand side with water waiting on the left if you hit it far enough. If you’re brave enough to go for the green in two then you must avoid the water on the left hand side, short of the green. If you lay up and the pin is on the left side of the green you still have a semi-blind approach. The onlookers sat outside the clubhouse add to the pressure of the approach shot on what is a brilliant finishing hole.
The Millennium course is a must play if you’re looking to play one of the Oceanico courses in Vilamoura. It is a course suitable for all standards of golfer and isn’t quite as off putting as the Victoria course and Old course as it isn’t quite as long.
The service is also very impressive and is everything you would ask for when golfing abroad. If you offered me the chance to spend another week in the Algarve playing golf around this course I would snap your hand off.
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|Oceânico Millennium Course
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