Even though there has been a golf course here since 1891, it’s only during the last five years or so that golf course development has really taken off”, says Pablo Llinares de Béthencourt, Managing Director of the Gran Canaria Golf Association. Gran Canaria has recently been chosen as the best European Golf Destination 2013 by IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators). Five courses are in the south of the island, all conveniently within a 20-30 minute drive of each other, while the remaining two are in the north closer to the capital Las Palmas and the airport.
1. Salobre Golf Sur
Taking full advantage of Gran Canaria’s amazing geology, and situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty with ravines, volcanic rock and mountain and sea views, the 36-hole golf complex of the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa is a stunning place to tee it up and not to be missed. Designed by Roland Fauvré, in close collaboration with Robert Trent Jones, the parkland-style Salobre Golf Sur is the more forgiving of the resort’s two courses and offers a variety of holes. The well-manicured fairways and greens ramble through terraced valleys lined with palms, and contrast with the surrounding desert terrain, to create a spectacular oasis for a memorable round.
2. Salobre Golf Norte
Heading deeper into the desert landscape, Salobre’s second course is a more demanding test of golf routed through rocky canyons and deep gullies dotted with cacti. It’s the kind of environment where you half expect to see the original Magnificent Seven cowboys come riding over the horizon on horseback as you tee off. After completing your round, head for the clubhouse terrace for a frosty 19th hole beer and keep an eye out for Sergio Garcia lookalike Fernando Martinez from Guest Services, who is told several times a day he looks like the Spanish golf star.
3. Maspalomas Golf
Situated in the resort area of Maspalomas in Gran Canaria’s south (one of the sunniest places in the world), this 1968 Mackenzie Ross design has a unique feel, surrounded by a nature reserve of rolling sand dunes, views of the Atlantic Ocean, palm trees and golden sandy beaches. Relatively flat with long and wide fairways, the course’s opener is a fairly benign 367-metre par-four (stroke index 13), which offers the chance of a solid start. Watch out though for the 140-metre par-three 10th hole where a crisply struck iron is required to carry an expanse of water, and with trees protecting the left and right there is little room for error.
4. Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas
Situated in the island’s north is Spain’s oldest golf club founded by a group of Brits in 1891, although the present site dates from 1957. This strategic parkland- style Mackenzie Ross design has been cleverly fitted into an area of just 375,000 square metres, spectacularly positioned on the edge of an extinct volcanic crater. Rising Spanish golf star and winner of the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic Rafael Cabrera Bello is a member here and trains whenever he returns home. Although primarily a members’ club, morning tee times are available for visitors from Monday to Friday.
5. Anfi Tauro Golf
Designed by Robert Von Hagge, Anfi Tauro is an impeccably maintained desert-style PGA Championship course located among rocky canyons and gorges, native vegetation, teeming waterfalls and glistening lakes, and offers a perfect contrast to the surrounding volcanic mountains. Anfi Tauro is one of those rare courses that generate a genuine sense of awe from one hole to the next for an unforgettable round. Don’t miss the classic 209-metre par-three sixth framed on either side with swaying palms and a pyramid-shaped rock as a backdrop.
6. Lopesan Meloneras Golf
This new kid on the block along the Meloneras Bay begins with a front nine of open and forgiving holes characterised by palms and a mountain backdrop, and then gets progressively more difficult as it enters the back nine along the cliff tops. Each hole is equipped with four tees to suit golfers of all abilities and amenities include golf carts equipped with the latest GPS technology.
7. El Cortijo Club de Campo
The final course of the magnificent seven is an interesting design and one of the longest in Spain. Integrated into a fantastic plantation of 100 year old palms, the course follows three valleys filled with indigenous flora and features six lakes, fast greens and sea views. El Cortijo Club de Campo played host to the 2002 Spanish Open won by Sergio Garcia and is conveniently situated close to the airport for that final round before flying home.