The Canaries are widely known as a sneaky way to feel some winter sun on your back; just four hours from Britain but where blue skies are possible all year round. It is entirely reasonable to expect to head to the islands off the west coast of Africa in January and not see a cloud all week. Certainly, you will not need to pack anything but shorts and polo shirts to wear on the golf course.
All of the main islands are well stocked with courses too, as befits their association with that golfing hotbed Spain. Don’t take our word for it though: Gran Canaria was handed the prestigious 2013 IAGTO Award for the ‘Best European Destination’ for golf. Gran Canaria is arguably the most impressive of the collection, with eight terrific layouts spread evenly out around its territory. Maspalomas was designed by Mackenzie Ross – who laid out the Ailsa at Turnberry – and is situated next to the Maspalomas Dunes, so you can imagine just how good it is.
Salobre is another fine option, boasting two courses and a hotel, while Meloneras is a Ron Kirby design incorporating palm trees and lakes with several holes right on the coast. It is linked to the Lopesan hotel group, which offers lots of accommodation options for your stay. Anfi Tauro has a course designed by the legendary Robert Von Hagge while El Cortijo in the Las Palmas suburbs was created by Blake Stirling, who learnt his trade under Pete Dye. Meanwhile Las Palmeras, an 18-hole par-3 course by Ryder Cupper Antonio Garrido, and the oldest club in Spain – Real Club – are located in the north east of the island. Real Club is another Mackenzie Ross creation.
Tenerife has a European Top 100 course in the shape of Abama, which is as close to a European Augusta as we are likely to find on this side of the Atlantic, with its beautifully manicured fairways and by colourful shrubs and bushes. Las Americas is a well-conditioned, John Jacobs design and is part of a complex including the five-star Las Madrigueras hotel.
Buenavista is in the north west corner of the island but is still only a short drive up the coast from the central hub of Las Americas. It was designed on clifftops overlooking the Atlantic by Seve Ballesteros. There are three loops of nine at Golf del Sur, all of which were designed by Pepe Gancedo and remodelled by former Tour star Manuel Pinero. Amarilla, Costa Adeje and Real Club are all good options too, while you can take a ferry to La Gomera to play Tecina; a spectacular course and a spectacular experience.
On Fuerteventura, the eponymous course was the first 18-holer on the island and the venue for the Spain Open in 2004. It is located in a UNESCO-protected reserve with a plethora of lakes, palm trees and natural vegetation. Elsewhere, La Oliva, Salinas de Antigua, Las Playitas and Jandia are alternatives.
Lanzarote boasts Costa Teguise, located in an oasis surrounded by a breathtaking volcanic landscape. Incorporating over 3,500 palm trees, the ‘picon’ (the volcanic sand common to the Canary Islands) and the wind add an extra ingredient. Lanzarote Golf Resort is situated between Puerto del Carmen and Tias, and is surrounded by volcanoes with the only outlet the Atlantic. The 18-hole course is over 6,700 yards long and was designed by Kirby among mature palm trees and other indigenous plants.
The climate: In a word, superb. Faultless from March to October inclusive and even the winter is perfectly warm.
Getting there: Lots of low-cost carriers fly (in around four hours) to all of the main islands now so it is very straightforward.
Time difference: Same as GMT
>> For more details visit www.grancanariagolf.com
Luxury in the Canaries
Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia 5*****GL in Gran Canaria
The only member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ on Gran Canaria, it is situated alongside an immense Palm Grove which is part of Maspalomas nature reserve. Opened in 2000, the Colonial-style hotel has 94 cozy rooms exuding rare luxury. You can enjoy Michelin-recommended cuisine while varied treatments, massages, saunas and a salt-water pool await in the Spa.
Seaside Hotel Palm Beach 5***** in Gran Canaria
The first member of ‘Design Hotels’ in the Canary Islands sits in a palm garden alongside the nature reserve and sand dunes of Maspalomas. Perfect for couples and families, its recent renovation has given it a ’70s retro chic style. A children’s area has a pool with games, playground and mini-club. The Spa has an acclimatised salt-water pool with massage jets, underwater music, mineralised health pool and three types of Sauna, plus a range of treatments. The renowned gastronomy ranges from the famous Seaside Barbecue, to Restaurant Esencia (Mediterranean with a modern twist) and tapas and fine wine at La Bodega.
Seaside Sandy Beach 4**** in Gran Canaria
Located in the centre of Playa del Inglés, just 200m from the long beach on which a variety of watersports can be enjoyed. Ideal for couples and families due to its friendly feel and superb food. A waterfall and water-massage beds are integrated into the pool while the Arabian-style architecture is transformed at night by dazzling lighting. There is also a luxurious Spa.
Seaside Hotel Los Jameos Playa 4**** in Lanzarote
Situated alongside Los Pocillos beach in a landscaped garden with lagoons and pools, a wide range of facilities include four tennis courts, volleyball, two squash courts and mini golf as well as a pool, mini-club and activities for kids. Los Jameos’ famous cuisine is enjoyed on the outdoor terrace where a huge, varied buffet is served with different themes each night. In 2008 a beautiful Spa area opened, offering a range of treatments.
>> For more details visit www.seaside-hotels.com