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.
Date: June 12, 2019