Located a few kilometres to the west of Maspalomas on the southwest coast of Gran Canaria, the Anfi Tauro Golf Course is one of Spain’s gems that was destined for a place in the Spanish Top 100 rankings.
Anfi Tauro was a gargantuan design achievement from the firm of von Hagge, Smelek & Baril, who spent years in the planning phase with the late owner and Norwegian industrialist Byorn Lyng. The golf course is at the heart of the Anfi Tauro resort and residential development and it’s set with a contrasting backdrop of dramatic, dark, volcanic mountains and the shimmering aquamarine Atlantic Ocean.
The build project was considered to be one of the most ambitious ever attempted in Europe and it literally required the movement of mountains. More than three million cubic metres of earth were shifted to create today’s emerald fairways that snake across ground that was formerly barren rock.
Nine holes first opened for play in 2006 and twelve months later the second nine came on stream. The result is an 18-hole course that bears more than a passing resemblance to an Arizonan desert course with craggy rock formations and vast sandy waste areas that are punctuated by three lakes.
With five tees in play, Anfi Tauro can be stretched from the gentle 4,448-metre forward tees to a stern 6,325 metres from the tips. Factor in the ever-changing wind and you’ll find the Anfi Tauro golfing test is rather exacting. There is interest aplenty here for even the most demanding golfer but we particularly like the one-shot holes, especially the 6th which plays straight into the prevailing Atlantic wind and also the 13th, which is literally cut into the side of the mountain where an old fashioned stone wall on the left serves as a hard reminder to keep your ball to the right.
The Tauro Valley provides a most remarkable setting for what is a golf course design achievement par excellence, so we doff our hat to von Hagge, Smelek & Baril.
We asked Rick Baril, what it was like to work on this project and he gave us the following exclusive quote:
“Anfi was our longest running project – it took more than 10 years to complete! There are dozens of great memories and stories. I meant to commit these to paper but I never fully got around to it. I loved working with Sr. Lyng, the original owner. He was absolutely brilliant.
In fact – one funny anecdote – during the construction of the golf course. Sr. Lyng had a dozen architects and engineers working on the development around the golf course. They were working in the original buildings which were in the middle of the site.
During one meeting in the site office, we were talking about a “conflict” between the golf course and the development. Sr. Lyng and I were debating the issue, making references and pointing… debating… then it got quiet.
Sr. Lyng looked around and asked if anyone else had an opinion. Blank stares. Nobody else had bothered to get out of the office and see what was happening on the site. They were meters away from the work, yet nobody (but Sr. Lyng) actually knew what was going on outside the office. He wasn’t happy. That afternoon, he took them all on a field trip…
Sr. Lyng was great to work with – he knew everything that was happening on site and was a joy to talk with. And, I think he appreciated that I knew the site as well. We would have long-ranging discussions about all the parts of the site and I think he enjoyed testing me to see if I actually knew all that was going on…”
I went into my round here with little knowledge of the course, having previously played at a nearby course (Maspalomas), and being left disappointed by the quality of its golf. All we knew was the green fee was the same, and so we were keeping our fingers crossed. The course (or what we thought was the course) came into view, and we knew straight away we were in for a more interesting round. We were only more excited when we realised what we had originally seen was just the par 3 course! Every hole is memorable, you can tell that a lot of time and effort went into getting all the small details exactly right. Apparently some of the greensites were built into the cliffs using dynamite! There is an abundance of mostly well-placed water, and great variety between short/long and wide narrow holes. Elevation is also a strong characteristic of this course, with lots of elevated tees. One hole in particular that stands out is the par 3 13th. Built into a side of mountain, if you miss this small green in any direction you are completely dead! Not exactly an easy walk, and at times this course can defy logic, but at the same time this is what can make it a fun experience.
My wife and I fancied some winter sun and having been to Tenerife last year decided to visit Gran Canaria for a week. Having heard that Anfi Tauro was the best course on the island we decided to play it twice and we were very thankful that we did as it stands head and shoulders above all other courses we played.
Designed by the excellent Robert Van Hagge, this course must have been a huge feat of construction, with several greens literally dynamited out of the cliffs. Despite this it is a very fair test, with large slopey greens in very good condition and all hazards (and there are plenty of them) in full view.
The only slightly disappointing hole was the last, where a downhill drive has a very small landing area and no bail out region - a little tough for what is supposedly the easiest hole on the course.
This course, like all others we played on the island was plagued with a dreadful standard of golfer, and once again both rounds we played here took close to 5 hours.
I also concur with other reviewers that the lack of clubhouse/bar detracted from our enjoyment of the round, as we had to get back in our car and head back to our hotel.
We loved Anfi Tauro and think that it should be rated as one of the top courses in Spain. Sadly we will not be returning as the other courses on the island were nowhere near the same quality.
Played around 20 times over the last 10 years. Set up a little strange as seems to be a small extension to the hotel and not really set up for the clubhouse post relaxation round. It takes some tome to get used to the "rough" or lack of it and if you are not straight you can find yourself in the desert very easily. The condition has always been excellent and well maintained with excellent greens. It has many spectacular holes and you 100% need a buggy on this course. Sunset while playing the last few holes is sensational and there are a wide variety of tee boxes that will test all standards. This is an under rated course and one to seek out. The villas provide a good standard of accommodation and with easy access to course. Needs a functioning club house but course cannot be faulted.
Anfi Tauro is the furthest golf course from the airport on Gran Canaria but it’s easily accessed via the autopista GC-1 highway, allowing you to go the extra mile to play here. It was the final Gran Canarian course that I played on a 7-day visit to the island a couple of weeks ago and I definitely saved the best until last!
I thought having played three von Hagge courses last year on a week-long trip to France that I was well prepared for what would undoubtedly be an epic design from a larger than life architect but I didn’t quite realize the monumental scale of a layout that was somehow dynamited and bulldozed into existence on the southern coast of the island.
If you’ve played Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria and wondered how on earth they managed to build a course with a tall bluff running hard along one side of the property then imagine what it must have been like constructing a course here with canyon walls looming large on two sides of an immense gorge that opens out onto the beach at nearby Playa de Tauro.
The course gets off to the gentlest of starts with an easy, slightly downhill, short par four but this hole’s immediately followed by a demanding, double doglegged par five, with the bunker-free fairway pinching into the front of the green. The first of five par threes then arrives at the 3rd, played across a storm channel that runs diagonally past the hole.
The elevated tee position on the right dogged 4th affords a good chance to survey the landscape and take in the full extent of the large waste areas, volcanic rocks and cacti-covered terrain at the southern end of the property, providing a stark contrast to the verdant, palm-fringed playing surfaces on the course.
The par four 5th heads slightly uphill to a higher elevation and this hole is followed by a long par three that plays into the breeze coming off the Atlantic. The 7th then doglegs left to a green which is framed by a waterfall to the back left of the putting surface – and on courses like this, water features like this which would appear completely ostentatious elsewhere just fit the bill perfectly!
The 8th then climbs a little into a large crevice in the canyon wall, with a fabulous 3-tiered green surrounded on three sides by huge walls of stone before the routing then plunges downhill and left to a double green that’s shared with the 18th (with the fairway of the last hole on the other side of a dividing lake). Again, it’s a clichéd, totally American-styled way to end both nines but it works beautifully in this expansive setting.
The front nine is terrific but the back nine is even better, rising up into the canyon at holes 10 to 12 before turning around to gradually descend towards the home green. The par three 13th is built into the side of the mountain, with tee shots played from the highest point on the course, then the par five 14th plunges steeply downhill to a green which is protected by another attractive pond to the front left of the putting surface.
The final par three at the 15th is played across more wasteland to a rather understated, bunkerless green with three levels offering a number of challenging pin positions. Holes 16 and 17 are short par fours, the first doglegging right and up towards “the big wall” which then runs along the right hand side of the penultimate hole.
All that remains is the par five final hole, with the fairway veering sharply left at the landing area and downhill towards a lake that hugs the right hand side of the hole. Avoid the two large bunkers that bar the way to this double green with your second shot and there’s every chance of finishing with a chip and a putt for a very satisfying finish to a round on an unforgettable course.
The strokesaver course guide contains a one liner – “Anfi Tauro will exhilarate and captivate you” – which really sums this place up rather well and I also liked the scorecard quote from Robert von Hagge: “the golfer must think, between blows, “Boy, how lucky I am to be able to play here’” – and yes, that’s exactly how it felt during my stay here, both on and off the course.
Managed to play Anfi Tauro last week and had a great time. I played a twilight fee for €41 which included a modern set of Taylormade and R1 driver, and paid €5 for a buggy loaded with GPS and water.. Great value for a course of this magnitude.
The greens had been hollow tined a few days before, so putting was a bit of a lottery but it still didn't detract from the great lay-out of the course.
I went off the back tees (whites) and glad I did because it made a big difference on some holes especially on the back 9. Stand out holes for me was the fourth a dog leg right par 4 with a massively elevated tee, and the stretch from holes 9 through to 14 the 13th being a 220 yard par three with a ravine on the left and cliffs to the right.
Would definitely return to this course if I was in the area - especially with green fees like this. Would thoroughly recommend.