Golfing in Tenerife
It was one of those moments you dread. Only a short par 3, but uphill and over a cactus-studded valley from a tee perched high above the Atlantic swells. I didn't feel comfortable as I teed up, especially with the Ladies European Tour pro I was playing alongside in the Tenerife Ladies Open Pro-Am patiently waiting with her caddy after effortlessly sending her shot close to the pin.
Nerves jangling, I swung. Hard. And the inevitable happened - I shanked the ball, sending it sideways and almost taking out Australia's former top lady amateur, Frances Bondad.
Thankfully, my indiscretion was forgiven with a gracious smile. After blanking that hole, the rest of my round was a marginal improvement, allowing me to relax and enjoy the beautiful Costa Adeje course. It is one of eight golf courses on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. A natural paradise of mountains, lush vegetation, towering cliffs, verdant valleys and black and gold sand beaches 300km off the African coast, Tenerife is popular as a sunshine holiday destination thanks to it's year-round temperate climate. Not for nothing is it known as the Island of Eternal Spring.
As a result, Tenerife is heaven for golfers. And it is great for non-golfing partners, too, with high-quality hotels, many having extensive health and spa facilities, lively nightlife and extensive sightseeing, shopping and activity options besides the beaches.
Spain's highest mountain - the conical- peaked Mount Teide, standing over over 12,000ft (3,718m) and snow-capped in winter dominates Tenerife and divides the island's verdant north from the more arid south. But nowhere is more than about an hour away from anywhere else.
The north has two courses. Real Club de Golf de Tenerife, not far from Canaries capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is Spain's second-oldest golf club and was founded 75 years ago. It can be played on weekday mornings.
Also in the north, Seve Ballesteros sculpted the stunning Buenavista course from a wild and beautiful section of rocky coast in the heart of Teno Rural Park, flanked by the towering cliffs of the Teno Massif. Several holes on the back nine are set right on the shoreline, giving the impression you are playing shots into the sea itself, with spray from waves crashing into adjacent rocks as golfers putt on some greens. A large lake and tumbling waterfalls in front of the clubhouse feature on the 9th and 18th holes. Stands of graceful palm trees and sharp-spiked cacti edge most fairways.
Afterwards, you can reflect on your glory moments and near misses from the upstairs restaurant and terrace bar in the clubhouse while taking in the magnificent vista of this Seve masterpiece, the rocky coastline and the brooding Atlantic beyond.
Buenavista hosts the Tenerife Ladies Open this year and now boasts a new luxury hotel alongside. Golfers have more choice in the south, including Golf del Sur. It staged the island's first professional golf tournament, the Tenerife Open, in 1989, two years after the course opened, the winner being Jose Maria Olazabal.
Manuel Pinero, who brought out the ravine-edgedOriginally designed by Pepe Gancedo in 1987, Golf del Sur’s 27 holes were remodelled in 2005 and 2006 by fellow Spaniard course’s natural element more; its wealth of flowers, cacti and palm trees are in stark contrast to its black sand bunkers and the ravines.
The course has a notable claim to fame; it was where British golfer KarlWoodward set two world records for the longest drive in 1995 – his second surpassing 408 yards, all carry! Nearby hotels include the San Blas and Hotel Vincci Tenerife Golf.
Amarilla Golf is another course right on the ocean. Designer Donald Steel teases players with the approach shot to the green of the par-4 4th, with the sea immediately behind. Then he taunts golfers with a tee shot right over the waves on the short but spectacular, par-3 5th. A marina forms the backdrop to several holes and there is also a horse riding club at Amarilla.
Tenerife’s biggest resort, Playa de Las Americas, has a great golf course on its doorstep. Golf Las Americas is a green oasis nestling in a natural amphitheatre. The course encircles the large clubhouse and is interlaced with lakes and water channels, making for some testing challenges right from the first hole. The
Hotel Las Madrigueras is among hotels situated right by Golf Las Americas, while the recently-renovated, luxury Hotel Sir Anthony and adjacent Hotel Cleopatra Palace are part of the Mare Nostrum Resort just a few minutes away. The Hotel Europe Villa Cortes, another golferfriendly property, is also close by.
Water is also a strong theme at Tenerife’s newest addition, Abama, which opened in 2005 in Guia de Isora, on Tenerife’s west coast. There are 22 lakes to negotiate, complete with cascading waterfalls, on this Dave Thomas design which overlooks the sea and has views to La Gomera. The course, Tenerife’s longest, is laid out amid luxuriant flora and including many 90,000 palm trees. But its most striking feature is the luxury Abama hotel and villas, a pinkish-brown architectural
marvel which resembles a Moorish citadel. It looms into view with the Atlantic behind on the downhill, par-5 10th and sits alongside the next two holes. The hotel features eight swimming pools, a spa and its own private beach.
Just down the coast is 27-hole Golf Costa Adeje, the scene of my Ladies European Open horror shot. Another Pepe Gancedo layout on the site of a former banana plantation, the original 18-hole Old Course, which opened in 1998, uses the natural contours of the land to good effect, including on its wide greens. It incorporates old stone farm terraces on fairways which slope down to the sea and offer superb views of La Gomera. Looking seaward, they are all but invisible, yet look back and you can see the original dry stone terrace walls puncturing the fairways.
The 9-hole Los Lagos Course is shorter but serves up more of a technical challenge, with six lakes for golfers to negotiate. Hotels near here include the turreted, five-star Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque Resort, Hotel Jardin Tropical, Iberostar’s Grand Hotel El Mirador and Grand Hotel Anthelia, and the Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa.
As well as Tenerife’s 18-hole courses, there is also the 9-hole Centro de Golf los Palos facility. Designed by Jose Maria Olazabal’s company, Integral Golf Design, it is a par-27 layout with lakes and streams which is ideal for beginners or those wanting to work on their short game. It includes a clubhouse, restaurant and children’s playground.
The neighbouring island of La Gomera also has an 18-hole course. The Donald Steel-designed Tecina Golf course is set on a clifftop on the island’s southernmost tip, and is reached by a 40-minute fast ferry trip from Los Cristianos.
Tenerife is one of my favourite golf destinations, and I am sure it won’t be long before I am back yet again. I just hope it won’t be a case of shanks for the memory next time…
tenerife golf facts
Visit the Tenerife Tourism Corporation website at www.webtenerifeuk.co.uk or call freephone: 00 800 100 101 00.
North-east trade winds and warm Atlantic waters keep Tenerife temperate year-round, with temperatures averaging 23ºC.
Tenerife is served by direct flights from several UK airports. Among airlines, Monarch (www.monarch.co.uk) operates from airports including Gatwick and Luton with fares, including taxes, starting from £77.50 one way (£138.99 return). Seats can be pre-booked at £8.50 per one-way and extra-legroom seats are available for £25.
Tour operators offering Tenerife golf packages include:
- Premier Iberian (0845 600 3391,www.premieriberian.com)
- Your Golf Travel (0800 043 6644, www.yourgolftravel.com)
- Golf Breaks (0800 279 7988, www.golfbreaks.com)
- Golf Amigos (0845 230 3100, www.golfamigos.co.uk)
You can also cruise and play golf in Tenerife and other islands in the Canaries with the Flagship Golf programme of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (01473 746175, www.fredolsencruises.com).
- Golf Costa Adeje www.golfcostaadeje.com
- Amarilla Golf www.amarillagolf.es
- Golf del Sur www.aymerichgolf.com
- Golf Las Americas www.golf-tenerife.com
- Abama Golf www.abamahotelresort.com
- Buenavista Golf www.buenavistagolf.es
- Real Club de Golf deTenerife www.realclubgolftenerife.com
- Tecina Golf www.tecinagolf.com
All prices and details were correct when published, please check before taking a golfing break in Tenarife.