GM's Roderick Easdale plays three stunning courses on the ever-warm island of Tenerife
In partnership with Tenerife Golf
Why Tenerife Is The Perfect Winter Golf Destination
If you are a tourist looking for somewhere to golf, Tenerife is a superb option – particularly if you are a monkey.
I met a chap whose father had carted fertile soil across the island to its southern fringes to build banana plantations. Years later his brother was employed to rip up these plantations to build tourist resorts in the warmer, drier south. The chap himself works in tourism.
This family’s story is the island’s economic one. Bananas used to be the main export of this Canary Island; now it is tourism, as other parts of the world now produce bananas cheaper. But the fruit is still in plentiful supply and exporters now focus on organic bananas. As there is little insect life here, organic farming is easy and cheap.
The bananas benefit from the island’s ‘Perpetual Spring’ whereby the weather changes little seasonally. This makes it as enjoyable for golf in summer as in winter. But in the winter golfers flock here, so if you wish emptier fairways and discounts head to the island’s fairways in summer.
How popular golf can be here in winter was shown at the Ritz-Carlton Abama where we stayed in October and were told there was hardly any tee time available for the next few months. This was despite a green fee which was rising from 200 to 250 euro for non-guests. To get the best deals, stay here on a golf package.
The Ritz-Carlton Abama is set in gardens on a cliff-top in Guia de Isora. There is a programme of guest activities, a beach, seven swimming pools, a tennis academy, spa and fitness centre. The variety of restaurants include two Michelin-star winning ones, in M.B and Kabuki, and the recently opened 20/20 which has a menu inspired by an American steakhouse and featuring 20 meats and 20 accompanying wines.
The golf course is quietly dramatic with some devilish greens with some surprising borrows. Getting to the green can also be tricky with several blind approaches. For example, the 9th has a two-tier fairway, the lower level plummeted to over a rocky ravine unseen from most of the fairway. This ravine took possession of my golf ball, as I naively played into this hidden terror.
Other memorable holes include the two scenic par 3s on front nine and the par-5 left-turning dogleg 10th which makes use of the elevation changes here as it tumbles downhill from the elevated tee past lakes and waterfalls on the left and bunkers on the right. Although water is in theory in play on 10 holes, it is not often threatening.
Golf del Sur has three nine-hole courses, North, South and Links. Links has the least links feel to it of the three. It has attractive holes, but none you would mistake as being on a links course. The North‘s 3rd and 4th, with the Son Blas Barranco to the right and biting a chunk out of the fairway are attractive holes and have a slight wild links flavour to them. But I do mean slight. The famous hole is the 2nd on the South, a par 3 with the green completely encircled by a black bunker.
The fairways are generous, so you can open your shoulders. With palm trees and local black sand in the bunkers contributing to the raw natural beauty, this club gives a feeling that you are playing in Tenerife rather on a generic resort course in the sun.
The island has contrasting landscapes – the wetter north is greener than the south, and both contrast with the centre of the island, where rain can rarely fall as it is normally above the clouds. The 47,000-acre Teide National Park is a stunning volcanic landscape and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its top attraction, in every sense, is the volcano Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak at 12,198ft.
On the less touristy north coast is the Seve Ballesteros-designed Buenavista, owned by the Meliá Hacienda del Conde a 117-room adults-only hotel designed to replicate a luxury hacienda and with a relaxed ambience. The hotel looks out across the golf course to the Teno cliffs and the ocean. The lagoon-style infinity pool has a particularly glorious outlook.
The spa has eight treatment rooms, including one for couples. For the active there are many popular walking trails nearby – the area is a natural park – and if you fancy it you can even try your hand at goat-herding.
Seve designed the course to flatter you score. The six par 5s are short and normally downhill. The six par 3s are friendly with no forced carries. Indeed, there is little by way of obstruction in front of any green, bar water hazards on the 1st and 18th. Although greenside bunkers feature on almost all holes, they are tucked to the side in the main. You can wander off the fairway on several drives as to do so merely lands you on another fairway. If in doubt reading a putt, use the local knowledge that the ball rolls towards the sea.
Some of the early holes lack drama, but that changes late in the back nine due to the setting, The par-3 15th runs down toward the sea, and the par-3 17th is probably the most memorable hole, although the 16th, a short dogleg hugging the cliff runs it close.
The pro here, Vicente Ruiz, took up golf aged 28. After a year he had a handicap of 11, after two years one of 3, and three years after taking up the game he turned pro. He says the secret is “concentrate, concentrate, concentrate”; that and masses of practice. Now aged 68 he reckons he has hit 18 million practice balls.
How to get there
Monarch (www.monarch.co.uk) flies direct from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester with fares, including taxes, from £86 return.
Where to play:
Golf del Sur
Where to stay:
Meliá Hacienda del Conde