Thinking of booking your next golf break to the Canary Islands and, in particular, Tenerife? Well, we think you should - as its golf offering is simply exceptional.
Here, Travel Writer David Whyte (@linksland) explains why...
We started with Adeje and it’s a fairly good track. It offers a series of unique holes, so much so you’d think you were on several different golf courses. The par-3s are most memorable as are the terraces built for a banana plantation back in the day. It's a good start, if not a bit of a driving adventure.
Next day, we played
Tecina on the island of La Gomera. This is a day-trip and a highly recommended
one not only for the journey. You can get a day ticket on the Fred Olsen
Express Ferry plus a return taxi including your round of golf for €157 per
person which is not bad when you consider the travelling involved. By the way,
you need to show your passport at the ferry port to get to La Gomera... I don’t
know why but they do ask to see them.
The road to the other side of the island climbs and corners some serious hairpins. “I hate driving on mountain roads,” Dave, our redoubtable driver decided. “Don’t you worry!” I told him. You just keep your eye on the road and we’ll do the views.” And they are incredible. You can see Mount Teide back on the main island from many of the turns. Then it’s over the top with signs for the village of Hernia and I hoped Dave wasn’t going to have one!
The village and golf
course of Tecina are both utterly charming! It’s completely different over
here, much quieter and more natural than the mainland strip.
On the golf course, you drive a buggy up to the top and cascade down more or less back and forth to the bottom. It’s a short course and ideal for ladies but full of tight, testing challenges - fun for everyone. The fourth is a spectacular par-3 playing down towards languid Atlantic bays.
So is the 11th! In fact, I’ve never known a course that offers so many stunning vistas. You finally arrive back at the clubhouse armed with some great memories and no doubt a batch of superb pictures on your phone.
I also know from past trips that the Hotel Jardín Tecina nearby is equally charming. As I recall, guests stay in little villas. It’s a bit dated but gorgeous. The ideal scene would be to stay here for at least one night, it’s so quiet and peaceful. I’ve never done it, only visited - but yet again, I intend to do so - one of these days soon.
We also played Las Americas and I played Amarilla on my own at the end of the visit. Las Americas is okay. The front nine is much more elevated and interesting but the back is a bit pedestrian playing through thin avenues of cypress trees with the occasional pond. These are holiday tracks and the challenge for half-decent golfers might be trying to get through the fourball ahead.
I’ve been visiting Amarilla for over 20 years and, disappointingly, there has been little change to it - a new tee box at the memorable fourth and the same at the 12th by the marina, both laudable recent additions.
Very nearby Golf del Sur is much more interesting as I recall with lots of volcanic sand bunkers, cacti and barankas. I didn’t play it this visit due to a fierce sore throat which developed and I was told came from the Calima wind that occasionally blows over from the Sahara making Tenerife a few degrees hotter than usual and lots of people coming down with a cold that never manifests - just a throat that feels like you’ve swallowed crushed glass.
So let’s get to the main golf dish of the day, Abama. Wow! They set the bar high when they built this one - and to be honest it puts all the other Tenerife courses well in the shade. Buenavista, Seve’s seaside track on the north of the island, comes in a distant second but Abama’s presentation, challenge and breathtaking views of the sea along with the Island of La Gomera tops them all.
Is there a catch? It costs €270 for a round including a buggy so that might be an issue for some - and you most certainly need to use a buggy on this course. You can save yourself a €100 on green fees if you’re staying in the hotel. But whatever - save up your pennies and take on this high calibre course and you’ll be emotionally quids in. It’s simply outstanding! That’s also why I’m saying to leave it till the end of your trip because once you play this, it’ll spoil you for the rest of them.
Of course, there are many long holes and demanding approach shots to the greens so it’s a track designed for better golfers. But there’s enough room out there on the fairways that any player can enjoy it. The two outstanding features are the views - incredible, and the presentation of the golf course - first-class.
We met with Brendan, the resident Irish pro during our round and he was telling us a bit more about the course. “It’s the greens that catch you,” he told us although it’s a challenge enough getting to them. “You need to get on the ride side of the flag otherwise it’s usually three-putt time.”
At the stunning, downhill tenth hole he told us: “There are 22 lakes on the golf course and we hired a company to go and fetch the balls out of them. They brought up more than 79,000.” That’s a lot of lake balls but then there are a lot of lakes. To be honest they don’t come into play as much as you think. On long holes like the tenth, it’s easy enough to plot your way along and stay dry. There are three lakes on the par-4, 11th and I’m sure they catch more than their fair share of errant balls but it’s fair punishment.
Abama offers a strong finish too, the last three holes a bit different from the rest, long and brutal but good if you’ve hit your stride, which to be honest you should have done at the first - otherwise it could be a long round.
The resort is run by Ritz-Carlton and again, from past experience, I can tell you this is an exquisite luxury hotel with exemplary service, a luxurious spa and exceptional fine dining. The building along is unusual, like a terracotta lego avalanche cascading down towards the water. Inside it’s very Moorish. The two Michelin-star restaurants encompass both Basque and Japanese cuisine. One more time, it’s a while since I’ve stayed here and I pine to go back.
So that’s our recap of golf on Tenerife. The overriding message is you get what you pay for. Judging by the bars and resorts, there are a lot of people looking for cheap holidays in the sun and the same can be said of the golf but if you spend that little bit extra, it’ll make your experience exponentially the better.