Opened for play in 2006, the Lopesan Meloneras course is located on the southern coast of Gran Canaria, less than three kilometres as the crow flies from the nearby 18-hole layout at Maspalomas Golf.
The famous Maspalomas Dunes don’t quite come into play here as the course lies a little further to the west of their sandy splendor. Instead, the fairways are set out on the clifftops overlooking the Pasito Blanco marina and La Punta Yacht Club.
Owned and operated by the Lopesan Hotel Group, the course occupies two distinct tracts; the more compact front nine lies further inland, with the back nine routed in a large loop around a future development site.
Water comes into play at several holes on the outward half, most notably at two of the three short holes. On the second nine, there’s a thrilling stretch between the par three 12th and the short par four 16th, where these holes run along the edge of the cliffs.
I played Meloneras last week during a visit to all the golf facilities on Gran Canaria. For some strange reason, this course isn’t currently listed in the Top 100 Canary Islands rankings but that will be rectified when the regional Spanish charts are updated at the end of this year – and Meloneras should figure prominently when it happens as it’s a very good track. How it’s been overlooked until now is a bit of a mystery but I suppose there’s always the chance of one or two courses slipping through the net.
It’s very much a game of two halves here as the front nine holes are laid out to the north of the property, with fairways occupying a relatively small parcel of land containing several small irrigation lakes, whilst the back nine holes are routed closer to the cliffs, surrounding a big area which is presumably zoned for future residential use. I don’t think I’ve ever played a course with as many palm trees lining the fairways – they must have planted many thousands when the place was built – and they certainly present a formidable obstacle if you stray too far offline.
I liked the short holes at the 3rd and 5th, where the greens lie behind water, and the putting surfaces at the par five 4th and par four 8th are cleverly set at a 45 degree angle to the fairway, placing an extra degree of difficulty on the approach shot. I also noticed a really nice horseshoe-shaped bunker that curls round the left side and back of the green on the par four 6th and this sand hazard goes a long way towards the hole attracting its stroke index 1 rating.
The holes on the back nine step up a notch or two, starting at the par three 12th which is played to a triangular infinity green. The following four holes are then strung out along the edge of the cliffs, towards the Pasito Blanco marina, requiring three tee shots in succession to be played across wide barrancas that cut across the fairways. It’s an exhilarating sequence of holes to get the pulse racing, especially if the wind gets up!