San Lorenzo is a classy golf course, routed in a figure of eight on sandy undulating terrain alongside the Atlantic, with fairways bordered by umbrella pines and the marshland bird sanctuary of the Ria Formosa.
“The course was designed by an American, Joe Lee,” wrote Michael Gedye in the Golfer’s Guide Portugal, “and built by another, Rocky Roquemore. Few golf architects are presented with such an attractive setting on which to lay out a resort golf course.”
Rocky Roquemore handled most of Lee's design projects outside Florida and San Lorenzo is one of his best, which was once bracketed alongside some of the world’s top golf courses. Times do, of course, change. When the course first opened for play in 1988 it quickly became the Algarve’s beacon of shining light, standing head and shoulders above the area’s other mediocre golfing fare.
“The result combines length, a fair measure of strategic difficult and highly enjoyable, scenic golf,” continued Gedye, “The terrain is ideal; rolling sandy land sweeping over slopes well-wooded with umbrella pine. There are holes which border the constantly changing seaside lagoon and marshland bird sanctuary of the Rio Formosa and three real testers which make full use of the inland lake that is a central feature of the property.”
Exciting golf and stunning views open up at the par three 5th where the backdrop is the beach and the sea beyond. The excitement continues at the next two holes which take you past the threatening waters of the Ria Formosa. The finish is also particularly strong and entertaining with the opposite side of the Ria Formosa coming into play on the 17th and 18th. The 18th is a sneaky 400-yard plus par four with water all the way up the left and a semi-island green. It’s a classic risk and reward finish, which brings San Lorenzo to a close.
This is a review of having played San Lorenzo a few years ago, so can't comment on the current condition, but interesting to see that many of our observations are still current.
The pro shop was unfriendly, expensive and insisted on seeing handicap certificates before play despite our being late due to getting lost in the sandy wilderness of the area courses with the confusing signage.
That said, having raced up the first to catch up with the player we were we joined with we really enjoyed the course, the tight lagoon holes a particular highlight.
Well recommended, and if you stayed at Penina very good value too.
The San Lorenzo Golf Course is laid out in a figure of eight, which explains the fabulous number of dog-legs you have to navigate. The constant change in direction puts a premium on driving the ball to the correct area, otherwise you’ll be blocked and out of position. I really enjoy a golf course like this that tests my precision off the tee, rather than hitting mindless drives. On the front side, holes 5 through 7 get all the attention as the land begins to undulate and the views of the Ria Formosa Estuary and salt water lagoons leading out to the Atlantic Ocean dominate the horizon. The 6th is the signature hole with an elevated tee shot to a sharp dog-leg left caressing the edges of the lagoon leading up to a small green-site. On a windy day, this quickly becomes a par 5. The tee shot is most demanding in terms of accuracy and distance control, and the exposed nature of the approach shot is a wonderful contrast to the opening stretch through the pine trees. The 7th hole continues down the lagoon with a precedent on finding the fairway that moves from right to left. A noticeable feeling at San Lorenzo is how your surroundings frequently change. It offers a cocktail of holes through pine trees, holes along the estuary, holes around a bird sanctuary lake and holes with blind tee shots where the landing area is out of sight. The routing is highly commendable and makes good use of the natural landscape. While it’s an enjoyable course to play on holidays, I found that the course kept starting and stopping. A world class stretch of holes is somewhat interrupted by a weaker stretch. While this may not be a course where you’ll remember every hole 10 years later, there’s plenty of challenge to keep you interested in scoring well. I noted vegetation and trees that needed cutting back, and tee boxes with longer grass than expected – but the greens are well made and the golf staff takes a lot of pride in their club. Hopefully with continued investment in improving the conditioning of the course, this nature lover’s paradise will continue as one of Portugal’s best.