Beautifully presented, fun yet challenging and with stunning vistas, the Ombria golf course makes for great play

A new addition

– February 2, 2024 | Text Scott Cranfield

Ombria Resort, in the heart of Loulé, is located amidst a peaceful natural landscape, including a diversity of trees, a watercourse, a series of old features related to pre-existing waterworks and farming, a five-star hotel and residential areas.

On my visit, I had a tour of the estate including the show apartment. Every inch of Ombria is well thought out and beautifully designed. The Algarve is famous for its abundance of great courses and now Ombria can proudly join that list, as well as offering something different.

The golf course design at Ombria means a good strategy is essential. If you get sucked into going for the glory shot too often you are likely to have a tough round and a high score. Each hole is unique and requires a different strategy. Even after a good tee shot you will need to keep sharp to decide on the next best shot to play, as there are plenty of risk and reward situations.

The four different teeing areas offer a course length from 4,500 metres to just under 6,000 metres, so by modern standards not overly long, but the clever design presents a great course at each length, requiring you to use just about every club in your bag.

The famous golf psychologist Bob Rotella has a saying: “Better to have a conservative strategy and a confident swing, rather than an overly confident strategy and a nervous swing.” I think this is well remembered for Ombria. If you embrace the course design and the wisdom of Bob Rotella, you might find yourself in a state of ‘flow’ and playing some of your best golf ever. This is a course that can really help you develop golfing skills for life.

From the clubhouse veranda, you have stunning views over the front nine holes. The holes appear to be lying at the bottom of a valley, but after the 3rd hole you will start a steady climb up to the 4th tee, where you will be met by a panoramic view of the holes below. This is the first of six par-3s on the course. Strike your tee shot well from this elevated tee and your ball seems to hang in the air forever before hopefully finding the green below you.

My favourite hole must be the 9th (originally designed as the 18th). There is a large lake all down the left almost from tee to green with shrubs and a brook on the right. This is definitely a hole to take a deep breath, relax and remember to swing through to your finish.

When you arrive on the 10th tee, at first glance the back nine holes appear to be quite a contrast to the first nine, but that is really because there isn’t so much water, so it has a more ‘open’ feel, but do not be fooled – you will still need to think your way round if you are after a good score.

Cambered fairways, doglegs, large bunkers and challenging greens will definitely keep you on your toes and that is providing you do not get distracted by views of the beautiful mountain range all around. The 12th hole par-5 sums up Ombria well for me. I played a good drive, and although I could get close to the green with my second, the risk looked too great, so a solid 4 Iron using the fairway undulations to get extra run left me a pitching wedge to the green, which came off better than normal, and left a 4,5-metre downhill left-to-right putt which for a change went in!

For a golfer, the idea of walking out of your home and onto the golf course I guess must be the equivalent of ski in, ski out for skiers. Ombria offers this luxury. As you would expect, the apartments have all the comforts and efficiencies of today’s modern world.

It is one thing to provide a beautiful modern resort, but it is especially encouraging to hear of Ombria’s vision for sustainability. All designers and architects involved in the planning phase operate with the same shared aim: to create a new sustainable destination. The “Carved by Nature” vision draws inspiration from the features, forms, material and themes of the authentic Barrocal sub-region of the Algarve. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Ombria and cannot wait to return; I encourage you to add it to your list of courses to play in the Algarve.