In the drivers seat at San Lorenzo golf courseBy Kerstin Buechner Dias • Mar 1st, 2005 • Category: Golf, People, Quinta Lifestyle
António Santos was born in Almancil and has watched the area develop into one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Europe. Golf has been his lifelong career, starting as a receptionist handling reservations and culminating in his current position of Director of Golf at San Lorenzo, one of the region’s leading courses.
Antonio Santos – The San Lorenzo Golf Course in Quinta do Lago
San Lorenzo is a beautiful golf course set within the Ria Formosa Natural Park, with spectacular sea views from the 5th, 6th and 7th. The prestigious UK magazine Golf World currently ranks it N° 9 in Europe, and its reputation attracts players from all over the world.
The course is owned by Le Méridien, who also own the Dona Filipa and Penina Hotels, and they invited António Santos to become Director of Golf in 1991. Since then many more golf courses have been built throughout southern Europe and yet San Lorenzo maintains its special status.
“Golfers from northern countries love our winter sunshine, it’s perfect for playing golf. It’s true that many other southern European countries now have golf courses, but I believe the Algarve has its own characteristics,”
he says, “we offer more than golf – we have the proximity to the ocean, wonderful food and wine, and a lovely lifestyle. Players can come here with friends, enjoy the surroundings, have some exercise and know that, tomorrow, the sun will shine again. It’s very sociable.”
Golf is known for its strict rules and etiquette, and for António Santos this teaches respect and good behaviour in players of all ages. “Children who are taught golf early learn the rules about behaviour on the course, dealing with divots, bunkers and so on,” he says, “this consideration for others stays with them and carries into other walks of their lives.” The game is also a great leveller, in many ways. “The greatest businessman in the world will go through the same frustrations as a housewife in learning the game,” he smiles, “and at the end, both will derive the same huge sense of achievement and pleasure from it.” He continues: “There is no direct confrontation between the players in golf. Each individual has his or her own challenge, with the common adversary being the course they are playing on.”
Has the increasing number of women golfers changed the game?
“Over the last 20 years or so, more and more couples are playing golf together. Often couples get to know each other and will meet regularly to play. Men seem to start of in large groups of “boys together” then, later in life, they calm down and realise it’s healthier for them to play with their wives! Women certainly play as well as men, and bring a certain level of civilisation to the game. It is always a pleasure to see women at San Lorenzo:”
Do people appreciate the surroundings at San Lorenzo?
“For sure,” says António Santos, “this is a 5-star course and we are within the 5-star resort of Quinta do Lago. The one complements the other. The players who come here are those who choose the select surroundings of Quinta do Lago for their holidays or as a place to live. They appreciate what we have here – the lake that is home to so many birds, the wildlife sanctuary we have become – and that is good. It comes down to respect again, for nature and for the environment.”
What does golf mean in Quinta do Lago?
“It means everything,” he says simply. “If you remember André Jordan’s original concept for Quinta do Lago, golf was central, and it remains so today. People love to play golf, and here they can do it in beautiful surroundings. And don’t forget, golf adds value to the price of a villa just as a sea view does. People pay a premium to live alongside a golf course – and who can blame them? How beautiful to have immaculate greens at the end of your garden!”