The Land of Eternal Spring – aka, The Canary Islands (Canarias)
Historically, the Canary Islands endured and entertained a few conquests, some pirates and lots of adventurers but the Islands now host and happily embrace an average of 12 million tourists each year. And why not, considering the myriad of offerings on these wonderfully diverse islands.
This archipelago sits 108km off the NW African coast and it’s location explains why it is bathed in an ideal subtropical climate. The islands are constantly caressed by trade winds that help give the islands ideal temperatures and help clear the night skies of clouds so you can endlessly gaze at the glistening stars.
The natural offerings on the islands are as varied as they are enticing. They vary from forest to desert, from lush tropical gardens to majestic volcanoes, and from golden beaches to black lava landscapes. It is no wonder then that there are six UNESCO Biosphere Reserves on the islands.
So, with the abundance of landscapes, the lovely local culture and the numerous activities to partake in (including 23 golf courses), there is something to meet everyone’s requirements – even if it is a sun-worshipping ‘activity’ on the beach during the day and exploring the urban nightlife after dark.
Matching demand with environment, it therefore stands to reason that there is a wonderful assortment of golf courses on offer. Five of the islands, (Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzaote & Tenerife) share out the 23 courses between them, and yes, many were designed by some of the best known architects, e.g. Seve Ballesteros, Mackenzie Ross, Ron Kirby. We will take a closer look at 3 of these courses that exhibit distinct features from one another shortly, but lets look at a few interesting facts about the Islands first.
No, they are not named after the bird.
However, no one knows for sure what the origination of the name was but there are theories of course: (1) It is often mentioned that they are named after Canariae Insulae or the ‘Island of dogs’ (as Gran Canaria was known); But then, (2) Canis Marinus is the Latin term for the seals (known as sea dogs) which were in abundance years ago; Or, did the name stem from (3) the fact that the peoples who inhabited the islands (Guanches) worshipped dogs?; And one more theory, (4) The aborigines of Grand Canaria may have called themselves Canarii.
Whatever the true reason for the name, their flag has 2 dogs on it which may intimate that they are embracing the dog connection.
The Christopher Columbus connection:
This famous navigator stopped here for his last preparations en route to ‘The New World’. Many locals were brought on board to sail with him on his historic voyage that even saw the introduction of sugar and bananas to the New World. As it turns out, sharing the sugar may not have been the best idea, as later, the economy of the Canaries suffered against the lower priced and better geographic location of the sugar business in that ‘New World’. As a result, many inhabitants of the Canaries had to emigrate.
Nature at its Best
The Islands know how to show what nature has gifted them. To mention but a few:
– Tenerife has the highest mountain in Spain, Mt. Tiede, which is the 3rd highest volcano in the world. It started its formation about 170,000 years ago and it is only fitting it should have its own national park now. Of course, down the years it was steeped in mysticism and it is still a little feared today – just as you would expect an imposing volcanic structure to be.
– Garajonay National Park on La Gomera Island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 due to its natural distinctiveness and biological diversity. This park has steep ravines, an evergreen forest, still hints of a subtropical jungle that includes endangered species (some endemic to the island) including the La Gomera’s giant lizard (Gallotia bravoana). Add to this a few small, almost hidden hamlets and many farm terraces and you get a wonderful glimpse of how life used to be.
– Fuerteventura’s Corralejo Natural Park brings you fabulous beaches and a truly volcanic landscape. The vast, soft white sand lays out the pathway to the turquoise water of the Atlantic but you can also walk inland to meet the Red Mountain (Montana Roja) volcano.
And Now, GOLFING
Now, lets briefly visit 3 very distinctive golf courses: Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, Golf de Sur on Tenerife, and Tecina Golf on La Gomera.
Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas
Designer: Mackenzie Ross
You probably wouldn’t expect this of a golf club on the islands, but Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas, is the oldest golf club in Spain having been founded in 1891. Located on Gran Canaria, it was designed by the late and prolific, Mackenzie Ross.
What sets it apart from most other golf courses (apart from its age), is that it hugs the edge of a deep creator – that of Caldera de Bandama volcano. Perched high and offering great views, this course has a great character, honed by its longevity, both within the clubhouse and without. This tight green course offers something different to the wider fairways closer to the ocean.
Golf del Sur
Designer: Pepe Ganccedo &
The Golf del Sur club has three golf courses and it just may give a lesson in how to highlight how to best use the resources you are given to show off what makes you different. How so? Well, what dominates the landscape of Tenife? Mount Tiede does, and as Mount Tiede is volcanic, it naturally has produced an abundance of lava, rich black lava. So, to Golf del Sur’s credit, (or perhaps it’s course designers), it doesn’t have the usual golden bunkers: no indeed, instead it’s bunkers are full of volcanic black sand. Amongst other features, including a number of giant cacti along the route, you must admit that it is not a usual sight in Europe.
Designer: Donald Steel
Tecina golf course is the only course located on the island of La Gomera. Designed by Daniel Steel, the course is laid out atop a cliff that leads off from a diverse garden-like area and then it brings you views of the Atlantic on almost every turn.
While the landscape may be diverse – running downhill initially from colourful flora, to a more minimalist section with a few tall trees – what all areas have in common are the views of the sea from each hole you play. The course location also offers views of Mount Tiede and Tenerife island.
You may wish to play an 18 hole game here just so you can enjoy the lead down to hole 10 where the green lays in wait for you over 40m below the tee: have fun playing that, especially if the winds are blowing.
Whether you play by ocean, crater or garden, you’re guaranteed a lovely golfing experience on these islands. So, relax, breathe in your surroundings and play well.
To Discover More –
For additional information on the Islands and on island golfing, you may enjoy visiting the following sites:
http://www.hellocanaryislands.com/ – a tourism site for all the Islands.
http://www.webtenerife.com/# – whats happening in Tenerife and golf course information.
https://www.mydestinationtenerife.com/ – a great guide to events and destinations in Tenerife.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/spain/canary-islands/ – this paper has a few nice articles and links to accommodation.
http://grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/283.0.html – Gran Canaria tourism site- includes accommodation info.