Oceanico Pinhal Course Review
Pinhal, designed by Frank Pennink who also designed the Old Course, was the second golf course to be built in Vilamoura and opened in 1976. The course has since been refined over the years with the most significant refinement by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1985.
The course is typified by rolling parkland and winds through tall pines, which offer the biggest challenge for most golfers. These umbrella and Atlantic pines line the fairways on most of the holes on the Pinhal course and some even stand out on the fairways and near greens.
The ponds and streams that come into play on some holes don’t pose a serious threat to most golfers and due to advances in technology; several of the holes have been lengthened to offer a tougher challenge.
The Pinhal course, unlike the Millennium and Laguna courses, has its own independent clubhouse and is set slightly out the way of the hustle and bustle of the millennium and laguna complex.
As you arrive at the clubhouse you get the feel of the parkland nature of the course. The clubhouse is set in small, partially wooded area and has a modern feel too it. The staff on reception were extremely helpful and the facilities were top quality. The bar and dining area over looks the grass driving range that is secluded from the course by tall pines down either side of the range. The putting green and chipping greens were slightly smaller than the ones at the Millennium and Laguna courses but still had a great roll that reflected the greens on the course.
The 5th hole is where you will encounter the first par 3 on the Pinhal course. There is water to the right that can catch out those who are struggling with a slice. Other than that it is pretty straightforward. Any ball that is slightly off line tends to catch one of the two surrounding bunkers.
The 8th is arguably the most picturesque of the four par 3’s around Pinhal. The tee shot is played downhill over a pond with a fountain in the middle that is waiting for any shot that is left woefully short. The green is quite thin so club selection is key and you often find tee shots landing short into the large bunker.
The 12th is a straightforward par 3 that is quite pleasant in a sense as there is little to think about on the tee. The green undulates and there are two small bunkers either side of the green but they are relatively easy to escape.
The last par 3 comes at the 14th and again is pretty straightforward. It is only 130m long therefore only requires a short iron or a wedge. Depending on the position of the pin, the tree that stands short of the green can sometimes cause a few problems, especially for those who fly the ball low.
Tall pines on this course line almost all the holes but don’t let them put you off. Often, if you find the trees you will still have a shot to the green. The 2nd hole is the first stand out par 4 on this course and is rightly classed as stroke index 4. You have to thread your tee shot through a narrow gap in the trees to set up the perfect approach to the green. However, on the approach shot you must contend with a tree sitting in the middle of the fairway just 64m short of the green. Your choice is now whether to go under or over it on this 374m par 4.
The 4th hole is a scenic par 4 and the positioning of the tee shot is key. If you are too far left or right you could be blocked out on your approach shot. If you do hit the perfect drive then you have a small pond short and right of the green to contend with.
The 11th hole is typical of a parkland course. You play a dogleg left that requires a wood or a long iron up to the end of the trees. There is no possibility of cutting the corner with a driver unless you can play a hook that Bubba Watson would be proud of. The two-tiered green can also cause some problems with the approach shot.
The 15th is the final stand out par 4 as it again requires a short iron off the tee. The tee shot is played downhill and a small stream short of the green prevents you from firing driver all the way down. You also don’t want to drive too far down as you may end up blocked out by the pine that stands short of the green.
The 1st at Pinhal is another Oceanico course that begins with a gentle par 5. The hole is relatively open so can let rip with a driver off the tee and possibly line up a fairway wood to the green. The raised green is possibly the most challenging part of this hole.
The 3rd hole will definitely require three shots to reach the green. The hole is 495m long off the yellow tees and the drive must be accurate as the fairway is tight and lined by tall pines. You then, more than likely, will have to lay up as the hole is tree lined all the way and has a slight dogleg right. If you want to make birdie on this hole, your pitching skills will have to be on point.
The 13th hole is a brilliant par 5 and is rightly stroke index 1. The tee shot forces you to commit to your drive otherwise you could find it heads towards the trees and out of bounds left or the pines on the right. The second shot is then blind as you make your way up the sloped fairway but once you reach the top of the plateau the hole is pretty straightforward. This is a truly testing par 5 that requires extreme accuracy.
The final par 5 comes at the 17th and is a lot more generous than the course planner makes out. Most golfers play to the top of the dogleg with an iron and go from there but in fact, it is possible to cut the corner with the driver and even if you catch the trees, you tend to still have a shot. Accuracy is required in the approach as the fairway tightens up after the dogleg but if played correctly, the hole is a great birdie chance.
The course is perfect for those who don’t hit the ball very far but are accurate off the tee. If you don’t have a buggy it is a relatively gentle walk that can be enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine. It is often quieter around the Pinhal course so booking a tee time shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
For those who are out on a stag do or a bit of a lads holiday then I would definitely recommend the half way house that has everything from sandwiches to ice cold bottles of Powerade to hydrate yourself.
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