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…”
Because Gran Canaria isn’t everyone’s first choice when planning a trip to the Canaries Anfi Tauro gets overlooked . My advice to anyone planning a golf trip is overlooking GC is your loss . There’s some fabulous holiday golf to be played , notably RC de G Las Palmas up in the hills but the overlooked gem is Anfi .
There’s some of the best vistas from the elevated tees you’ll find anywhere in Europe , the course is literally blasted out of the volcanic landscape and is I imagine what some of these desert courses in Arizona are like .
The fairways are lush , generous and neat . Every tee shot invites you do your best . For the more adventurous they’re ample opportunities to open your shoulders and go for it . The more tactical golfer is also rewarded for plotting their way to the green .
If you get a chance , take it . You won’t be disappointed.
Any discussion of Anfi Tauro as a golf course needs to consider the terrain that it was built on. Gran Canaria is far from a natural place for a golf course given its rocky landscape and lack of grass. To build and maintain a first class golf course is a major achievement. It also points to why green fees are relatively high both here and more generally on the island.
I have a strong bias to walking a course and avoid taking a buggy whenever possible. However if there’s ever a course that needs a buggy then this is it. There are several times that the next tee is not only a significant distance from the previous green but a meaningful climb as well. This allows for plenty of breathtaking shots from elevated tees against the backdrop of the rocky hills and sea.
The signature hole is the par 3 13th played from an elevated tee to a green perched into the cliff face with a log fence marking the sharp drop off to the left of the green. Left and long are dead. A push right risks hitting the path and the ball bounding out of bounds over the cliff at the back. The pin seems to often be at the back of the green but to go for it brings in all of the danger. The sensible shot is to play for the front half of the green, taking most of the trouble out of play and accept a long putt. I wish I’d realised that at the start of the week as in my 4 rounds there this was the only hole I never parred or birdied with several doubles or worse!
The par 5s at 9, 14 and 18 are also memorable holes. All play downhill, are just about reachable in 2 for me with two perfect hits (from the yellows) but with lakes along the side of the greens to make them classic risk/reward holes. Invariably I didn’t put my drive in the right position to give myself a chance, or pushed my approach (safely) twice on the 9th when I did but finally on my last shot I hit the green in 2 at 18. It’s perhaps not sensible taking these shots on but it’s a lot of fun!
The greens are generally large and offer a range of pin positions which can subtly alter the challenge of the hole. They are also well contoured to provide a good test of putting but without being unfair.
Several of the reviews from the last couple of years comment on the course being in poor condition. I wonder if that reflected lower maintenance during covid restrictions because I’m happy to report that the course was in excellent condition. The greens were rolling well and generally a very good pace with the fairways well maintained. Wild drives can easily end up on the grey stony ground which is easily playable off albeit I decided at the start of my trip to move my ball back on to the grass to avoid damaging my new irons. This was fun holiday golf after all rather than a medal! Thankfully my driving was relatively straight meaning I typically only used my own local rule about once per round.
I played off the yellow tees in all 4 of the games and whilst overall this was a touch on the short side I’m pretty sure it would have been too long, and less fun, off the whites for me (a 7 handicapper who carries his drives 220-230), especially given there is typically little roll. One criticism I have is that there is not a lot of variety in the length of the five par 3s with four in the 160-180 yard range and one slightly shorter. The first was also playing as a 175 yard par 3, from halfway down the fairway, for some reason. In an ideal world I like to see par 3s staggered in length from say 120 up to 200 yards which gives variety (no course does this better than Royal Ashdown Forest). Playing all of the par 3s off the whites would have been particularly challenging, and less enjoyable.
If I were to come back with some friends of a similar standard then I would be inclined to play a mix of white and yellow tees, with possibly even a red or two thrown in for a short par 3 or driveable par 4.
The pace of play was not great with each round coming in at about 4.5 hours. Several of the people I played with were very poor golfers (partly because they were elderly) which I think was relatively typical and contributed to the slow play. However, playing under a blue sky in a perfect temperature in February meant that I was not particularly fussed about the pace of play (versus being livid if taking 4.5 hours in East Lothian in February!)
Disappointingly the range is not close to the main course and they won’t let you take the buggy down there. It’s about a 15 minute walk which I declined and just practiced on the putting green and into the net. I went to the range on a different occasion and it wasn’t great with hard mats and cheap balls. The chipping and putting areas are a bit better.
In summary I would say that Anfi Tauro stacks up pretty favourably against other courses I’ve played in mainland Spain and Portugal. It doesn’t have the challenge of a Finca Cortesin, Monte Rei or West Cliffs but you will lose less balls and it’s a lot of fun! Great holiday golf and thoroughly recommended.
I played Anfi last week (Middle september) for the first time & what I'd heard about the spectacular views was absolutely true. Cut into the rocky terrain, there were endless elevation changes which I loved. Whilst the fairways are relatively wide, there are holes which will punish you if off line, the greens relatively large targets with decent amount of slope. However the condition of the course really did let itself down on the day, the greens did not look like they'd been cut in a long time, meaning getting the ball to the hole was, on occasion impossible, they were also not the smoothest you'll play on. The fairways were largely in good condition although bear patches were evident. Some tees were also very brown and grassless. I would like to see what condition the course would be in come middle of October or in April-May which I presume is in the high season for the course. Had it been in pristine condition to match the scenery, this would have been right up there in courses I've played.
Great layout, expensive like every golf course in the Canaries, but certainly worth playing. Condition quite good, layout and variety fantastic. I played solo in January 2021 (4 rounds) and the course was medium busy but acceptable. You need a buggy but because the restaurant was closed, the buggy only cost €10 which is very reasonable. I'm an 11 handicapper, swing speed close to 100mph, average drive really about 230 yards (of course, I fool myself and think over 250 yards :-)) and the course is much better from the back sticks (white), even though they encourage you to play off the yellow sticks. The course has most holes going either uphill or downhill but the prevailing wind coming in from the sea helps on the uphills and hurts on the downhills, which is an ideal mix. In addition, it is not as windy as other parts (particularly the Meloneras course which I also played), the course being cut out into a valley between mountains. The greens are good but not great (Meloneras better) and the general fairways and condition were also good. The course is run more like a hotel, so doesn't have that golfer restaurant/bar type set up looking over the 18th green, so not ideal for groups wanting to socialise immediately afterward. The practice facilities are a bit away from the course but they are good, decent range and practice green.
Rated the top course in the Canary Islands, Anfi Tauro provided a bewildering mixture of the very good and the indifferent, but ultimately failed to live up to expectations.
It’s construction was clearly a massive undertaking with a sizeable budget, with small mountains and huge amounts of earth moved to create a series of elevation changes and spectacular holes in a desert style setting. No attention to detail was spared in the design with many features carved from the rocks including three man-made lakes and a small pyramid ‘mound’ behind the 6th green.
But despite this the golf course doesn’t work, it is more like a collection of golf holes, a number of which particularly on the back nine are quite brilliant. There was however a feeling of emptiness, the course was unloved and poor maintenance was exemplified by lots of weeds and bunkers that hadn’t been raked for a good while.
Single storey holiday homes were an eyesore and too close for comfort on the first hole and to the back of the 5th green and the huge empty and ugly course hotel dominated the skyline on the start of the back nine. On arrival we were directed to the hotel’s soulless underground car park, and we soon discovered that there was to be no on or off-course refreshment facility. Zero ambience indeed! It felt that massive development was needed to fund the initial capital outlay, but the money has now run out possibly because of Covid and a big drop in footfall.
I can see that despite my misgivings, Anfi Tauro could very good indeed. The front nine is a solid test and the back nine is as exciting as you are ever likely to play, with at least six sensational holes. My favourites were the short 13th, as photo, and the par 5 at 14, both from raised tees seemingly up in the sky and with breath-taking views.
If the course had been adequately maintained and more welcoming in style and presentation, its exhilarating layout demands a mark at least one ball higher than I have given. Hopefully things will get better!
Anfi Tauro is unlike any other European course I had seen or played. The course is located in Tauro, a small coastal town tucked in a small inlet from the Atlantic flowing through the spectacular volcanic mountains of the south of the island. It offers stunning views that try to grab your attention at every opportunity. To me, it is the perfect example of how a course should play - tee shots with a host of elevation changes to mirror the terrain with a variety of approaches needed to navigate your way onto guarded undulating greens. You need to hit it both ways to take advantage of the tee shots or you can really be stuck a long way back from some testing pins!
To add a bit of context, I was playing here post-COVID lockdown just after the course had reopened to visitors. Considering there were minimal ground workers and staff working on the premises, it was incredible that the course was in the condition it was… A few forward tees and weeds in bunkers meant nothing when the rest of the course was in the impeccable condition it was - fluffy bunkers, true greens and soft manicured fairways, just like you would expect in peak season.
After short drive down to the 1st tee, 8 middle aged Spanish men were kind enough to let me play through as I was on my own. They thought they were doing me a favour but the nerves were very real considering I hadn't swung a club in a month and these were rentals that I hadn't used before! Nevertheless, the first was playing the easiest hole on the course from some forward tees, so i just played within myself and took a smooth 4 iron off the tee leaving only a short downhill wedge in. I felt like the first easing you into your round was a lovely touch here, as you really are in for a roller coaster of ups and downs as you follow the topography round and up.
The course really comes into its own from the 4th hole onwards - a steep climb to an elevated tee offers the first of many spectacular views of the oasis like fairways. Palm tree filled wasteland areas skirting either side of the majority of the fairways make each tee shot seem that extra bit more tight, but if you're a confident driver of the ball you can really put yourself in some advantageous positions round here.
A few of the front 9 stand out holes for me have to be the 6th, 7th and 9th:
The former is a tricky par 3 that was playing long with a cross-breeze at 209 yards - I can easily see this commanding anywhere from a 5 iron to 5 wood depending on the day! Everywhere apart from short right was trouble, so club choice is crucial to save yourself from a scorecard wrecker. An epic hole and the first of many that give you a glimpse of the crystal clear wild Atlantic.
The 7th was back towards the heart of the island, with a tee shot that shows you the vastness of the landscape. Aiming down the right side opens up the green to long hitters, and with a long lake scaling the left side it's a no brainer to aim there. A proper Sunday pin was set up that day, tucked inaccessibly round the back left corner of the green. A driver then wood only just got me to the front edge of the green, but then there's a lot of work to do to get up and down for a par.
The 9th is a fantastic par 5 to a double green round a vast lake and is a treat to finish the front 9. Not the longest hole for big hitters, but it sure takes some guts to go at any pins on the left side of the green.
The back 9 really does bring a whole new adventure to the round. As you zig zag through and up the valley inland, you can really feel the anticipation growing for the moment when you u-turn back again and have to come all the way back down again… And it is something very special. The tee shots are no longer over just barren wastelands - these are rock filled chasms where you will most certainly need a reload if you find yourself in one. The sheer valley walls that seemed so distant are now right up against you and very much in play, so this is a very different beast.
The 10th throws you straight into an at first daunting tee shot, but in reality this should be taken as a confidence builder, as you won't have a wider fairway than this for the rest of the round. Just don't miss right on the approach, as it's either sand or OB for you!
The 12th is the culprit for the altitude gain - steeply uphill the entire way up to the green, this 467 yard par 5 seemed to go on forever! The Grand Canyon-esque valley walls that you're playing through are like nothing I have seen in a course anywhere, but if you don't get too distracted by it, there should be no dramas here.
What most consider to be the postcard hole - the 13th. From the whites, this treacherous par 3 leaves no survivors if you push it even slightly left (or any other side of the green for that matter…). Once you're down, it seems like such a big landing zone, but from the height you're approaching it from, it sure is daunting.
My personal favourite from Anfi is the 14th, and it is hands down the most breathtaking hole i've had the pleasure of playing - it really offers a one of a kind vista. The temptation to open up the shoulders is too much, but that's the right thing to do, as you can really knock one down there and make the approach between the lake and bunkers much easier on yourself.
As you drive along the 17th and admire the Atlantic again, be sure to take in and reflect on this uniquely manicured journey that is unfortunately coming to a close. The finishing hole is a great test of endurance - a reachable par 5 guarded by the same lake as the 9th is undoubtably a hotspot for lost balls and can be a late round game changer. Be sure not to get ahead of yourself think the win is yours without getting safely on the putting surface first!
A flawless course in the always sunny island of Gran Canaria - can it get any better than this?
Thanks again to Francisco and Raquel for such a warm welcome - I'll certainly be singing high praise about this round for a long time and will be back for more as soon as I can!
Spectacular. That would be the one word summary of this course - and certainly what I was thinking standing on the par-3 13th tee overlooking the baranco with half the golf course laid out in front, 50m+ below me with the Atlantic in the distance.
On the day I played, the first was playing as a par-3, with tees in the fairway, but other than that, and a few weeds in a couple bunkers, I can't fault the course - which is clearly still doing well despite the challenges that COVID19 brings and in excellent condition (a miracle in this arid rocky landscape). The front 9 highlights include the raised tee on the par-4 4th, which dares you cut the corner of a big dog-leg right. Also the par-3 3rd headed towards the ocean and the par-4 8th with green blasted into the cliffs which intimidate from 3 sides.
However, it is the back 9 which really impresses as you climb up the mountain to the highpoint on 13th tee. This is a tee shot that you'll remember, with a precipitous drop awaiting anything that's left of the green. The following tee shot is only slightly less spectacular - inviting you to swing hard with the driver towards the wide fairway waiting way below.
The 9th and 18th par-5 pairs are great finishing holes for the respective 9's, coming in on either side of a large lake, offering an exciting 2-shot challenge for any big hitters.
I would agree with a previous review that it's worth visiting the practice area first as it is set away from the course. Indeed, you could do worse than spending a day honing your short game playing several loops of the par-3 course adjacent to the practice area.
Just remember to pack that extra sleeve of balls!
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.