This article was written by our good friend and reviewer Calum Mackenzie. He played golf at Gran Canaria in October 2018 with his fiancé and shares the ins and outs about playing golf at this stunning island. Special thanks goes out the Gran Canaria Golf!
It is with great pleasure that my friends of Leadingcourses.com asked me to write a blog about playing golf at Gran Canaria. I really hope this article is helpful if you are considering Gran Canaria as your next golf destination. There are seven golf courses on Gran Canaria and we decided to play the best courses on Gran Canaria. A full list of all golf courses on Gran Canaria can be found on Leadingcourses.com. You can also check out all courses on a useful map. One other top tip: make sure to download the Leadingcourses app. The app which will pinpoint all nearby courses and will provide directions to each course.
A warm welcome
Just a 4 hour and 30 minute flight from London, the best time to go when you want to golf on the island is October or November. December to March is great for the temperature, but it is windy season. So that won’t help to enjoy your round of golf 😉
Fayna from Gran Canaria Golf met us at our hotel and explained with great passion how Gran Canaria is trying to put themselves on the map as a golf destination. The rise of Turkey and Bulgaria has made this a competitive market, so every destination has to offer something special to attract golfers or to position themselves on a specific audience.
The courses my fiance and I played on Gran Canaria were Salobre Golf Resort Gran Canaria (Old or South Course), Lopesan Meloneras Golf and Anfi Tauro. These golf courses have a rating of a 7.7, 8.0 and 8.2 respectively on Leadingcourses.com. On Top100golfcourses Anfi Tauro is also ranked highest.
Having played Buenavista in Tenerife (also part of the Canary Islands) in 2016 – a spectacular Seve design – I had a good benchmark in mind while playing the other courses.
Salobre Old Course
The Salobre Hotel Resort & Serenity is a 36 hole complex, a 25 minutes’ drive from the airport and this was a Sheraton owned resort until July 2018. The owner wanted to take more control and to give it a more local flavour, which is the reason why the Sheraton name was dropped. The pro shop is small but well stocked and the welcome very friendly. We ventured out to the 1st in a buggy as almost all golf courses in Gran Canaria require a buggy. A nice gesture is that they charge a buggy per person, which can save some money if you are alone or with three golfers.
How to best describe this adventure? A lot of rocks, serious elevation, a tropical feel – throw in a fair amount of water and you end up with a fun and challenging round. Played in the same valley, the Salobre Old Course is memorable for some short par 3s over water which demand attention. A nice mix of holes adds up to a par 71. Given I shot net 68 and my fiance net 70 – I would agee that the New Course is aimed at the better golfer. A quick word on the New Course, which I didn’t play. I was told that the New Course – a Ron Kirby designed course – is slightly harder and a bit more picturesque. Played in different valleys, they have added more tees on this course to make it fairer for all levels of play.
A few watch outs for Salobre – gravel and rocks run close to the fairway and the grass is Bermuda so it can grab the club easily. This means you need to use the bounce of your club – I do this by opening up the wedge a couple of centimetres – and swing a bit harder around the greens. The course ends with a short drive in the buggy to the 19th. Recently refurbished, it is a great way to end your round.
This course is just 5 minutes down the road. A long palm tee lined road whets the appetite for what turns out to be a stunning golf experience. The pro shop and changing rooms are adequate, but have a temporary feel. An indication that they want you to stay at the hotel which isn’t visible from the clubhouse.
The drive up to the 1st gives a stomach churning feeling of excitement and nerves. The course is immaculate and a little classier than Salobre, there are dozens maintaining the course. You will experience two very different 9s. The front 9 is an expanse of lush green, palm- tree lined with some occasional water. More forgiving than the rocks of Salobre – the fairways at Lopesan Meloneras are wide and you can play from neighbouring holes.
The back 9 is a totally different prospect. As the wind picks up nearer the coast, you flirt with the ocean on every hole. It is breathtaking. Just as you get used to it, views of the marina break through on hole 13 and you realise how unique this place is.
I rate this course above Buenavista in Tenerife, which I didn’t expect to write. The only disappointment was the pace of the greens. Just bad luck on timing for us as they had just been treated. We returned back to the 19th for the best club sandwich on this side of the equator. A truly special golfing experience.
Knowing that Anfi Tauro had the best rating out of the three on Leadingcourses.com and was ranked 1st in the Canary Islands on TOP100 I was expecting big things. The entrance gives the impression of an expansive destination – with the stunning looking par three course and driving range within the complex but a little bit of a drive from the hotel.
The opening par 4 has a motorway and protective netting to the left – a bit of an underwhelming start to be honest. The course really steps from here on as you experience elevation changes, some fun water holes and some tough long par 3s. In terms of type of course – it is a blend of Salobre (arid) and Meloneras (lush).
The back 9 is spectacular and reaches a crescendo toward the end. The paths wind up into the mountains which make the tee shots progressively more impressive. The views of the ocean are breath-taking. The short par three with end of the world on the left and the par 18th over a huge lake are worth a repeat visit. I had a comedy Tin Cup moment on 18 trying to take on a 230 yards carry which didn’t end too well!
Anfi Tauro is a stunning golf course, but I would have to say I preferred Lopesan Meloneras. Meloneras was in unbelievable condition – perhaps they invested a little more in the course this year.
What else to do on Gran Canaria?
Gran Canaria is a tiny continent where you’ll find plenty of experiences that will make every day special: golden beaches, stunning landscapes, nature and cities full of fun things to do. If you love nature, then head to Nublo Rural Park. This 26,000 hectare natural park in the west of Gran Canaria contains 30 small villages and is the island’s largest natural area and a Biosphere Reserve. Also make sure to visit the Painted Cave; there you can see an ancient Canarian settlement and cave paintings. And if you like to visit Canarian cities, then Agaete, the Old Town of Vegueta, Puerto de Mogán and of course Las Palmas are a must visit!
The airport of Gran Canaria (IATA code: LPA) is located on the east side of the island, between Las Palmas in the North and Maspalomas in the South. There are many airlines that fly direct to Gran Canaria Airport, like Norwegian, Ryanair, Transavia, Air Europa, Vueling, TUI and Thomas Cook.
The verdict on Gran Canaria
If you are looking for a great winter golf break – on the evidence of the three golf courses I played – golf at Gran Canaria should be seriously considered. It won’t be for everyone, it is more of a couples or family type of holiday destination. Having said that, I heard Playa des Ingles and Las Palmas – the capital city of Gran Canaria – offer up some decent nightlife.
Most of the best golf courses on Gran Canaria are located on the south of the island where the weather and beaches are nicer. Aim to tee off early because it is much cooler and the wind picks up pretty much on a daily basis from 11 o’clock and onwards.