“Stepping off the plane in Gran Canaria last week, the warm air hit me, bringing back memories of my annual trip to South Africa to escape the winter in the UK. This exploratory trip of the golf and hotel courses on Gran Canaria proved to be a more than adequate substitute.
The largest of the Canary Islands, gathered together in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa, Gran Canaria is just four hours by plane from the UK. The islands are well known as a winter sun destination and I was looking forward to a week of playing golf in the sunshine.
I flew from Stansted with Jet2, definitely among the best of the low cost airlines. Both flight legs were busy and, of course, everyone has to wear a mask, but that is perfectly bearable on a shortish flight.
Our first golf course was Meloneras and I can report that the photos do not do it justice. It’s a great test of your game, slowly building in difficulty as you progress along the holes. Designed by Ron Kirby, who worked with famous golf architect and competitor Gary Player, nine holes take in magnificent mountain views and nine holes look out over the ocean.
We then headed for a game at Salobre Old. Here you do need a buggy as it is very up and down. It’s a tricky course in an isolated location at the Salobre Resort. Surrounded by volcanic rock, this golf complex is ideal if you want to get away from it all, with fantastic spa facilities. Currently the sister course Salobre New is closed and we will let you know when it re-opens.
We dined very well on our trip which was fortunate as we needed a lot of stamina for the golf itinerary. The next day we headed to Maspalomas for 18 holes. I really enjoyed playing here. It’s an interesting mix of half links, half parkland. They had made good use of Kikuyu grass on the fairways and it is the only place outside of South Africa that I have seen country club grass on the greens. This grass is ideal for hot climates and was playing very well.
For our final round we headed to Real Las Palmas Golf Club, the oldest golf club in Spain. Opened in 1891, it was designed by Mackenzie Ross and is the home course to Ryder Cup player Rafa Cabrero Bello, who grew up on the island.
This was a step back in time, with a colonial style clubhouse. Everything was beautifully maintained and the greens were very quick. It was the best course we played and I would recommend it is included in every golf itinerary.
Hotels on the island were of a similar high standard. The Lopesan Villa del Conde and Lopesan Meloneras were both very smart. The Lopesan Meloneras has the most amazing infinity pool which looks like you will be swimming out into the Atlantic.
I would also recommend the Don Gregory by Dunas hotel at Playa del Ingles. Another superb beachside location with restaurants and bars in the large shopping centre next door.
All in all, I was very impressed with the island. The quality of the golf and accommodation was very good and everywhere was very clean. I’m a bit of a foodie and I was very happy with the quality of everything we were served. It’s definitely given me the boost I need to get through the winter. ”
Nigel’s top tips
- Take private transfers or use the island’s efficient bus service as the roads are hilly and can take some getting used to.
- Visit the old town of Las Palmas, this was very attractive with a distinct African feel to it
- Choose your location carefully. You have the choice of being out on your own or close to the lively towns. I’m happy to talk through the best location for you.
- Be honest with yourself whether you will need a buggy or not as the courses can be hilly.
- Definitely include Real Club de Las Palmas in your itinerary
- Covid measures: At the moment you wear masks in public areas, except when you are eating or drinking. There’s a simple health form to complete before you travel and currently (November 2021) you book a Lateral Flow Test for the second day after your return to the UK.