Lugar Campo de Golf,
35300 Santa Brigida,
- +34 928 351 050
Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas is Spain’s oldest golf club, having been established by English traders back in 1891. The ever-expanding urban sprawl of Las Palmas forced the club to move to its present location in the mid-1950s, where Philip Mackenzie Ross set out the club’s new 18-hole course.
Situated alongside the Caldera de Bandama volcanic crater – which, in strict geological terms, is actually a maar and not a caldera – the course boasts fabulous views of central Gran Canaria and the northwest coastline of the island.
It’s a relatively short track which is characterised by narrow fairways, deep ravines and small greens. A round here starts by skirting along and around the old crater before the fairways head into the hills to the west then return back down to the clubhouse for the closing stretch.
Many of the putting surfaces are raised and, whilst not overly protected by bunkers, they present a real challenge to golfers who must fly their approach shot high then try to hold the green. As for the driving range, it’s one of the quirkiest anywhere, with practice shots blasted down into the old crater!
It takes a wee bit of effort to get to Real Las Palmas – or Bandama as it’s known locally – and, to prove the point, a local taxi driver taking one of the guys I was playing with got lost on his way from the airport to the clubhouse!
Most of the other golf facilities on Gran Canaria are located half an hour away on the south side of the island but its’s well worth the 45-minute journey north to play here on a day’s excursion for the main tourist traps.
To be honest, I thought the club might be a little stuffy, perhaps a little overly proud of its status as the oldest golf club in Spain (established in 1891) but any such thoughts were dispelled the moment I walked through the front door – talk about being made to feel like a member for the day!
Real Las Palmas has to be one of the most hospitable, down-to-earth clubs I have ever had the pleasure to visit and a large part of that was down to Leif Svensson, the manager of the adjacent hotel, who seems to use the clubhouse for conducting most of his front of house business.
Make sure to ask for Leif if you get to play here as he’ll keep you entertained for quite a while with his stories of money matches he’s played down the years, especially when he first started out and they were his main source of income – he’s quite a character and one of the most interesting I’ve ever come across on my golfing travels.
The club moved to this site in 1957, with Philip Mackenzie Ross laying out the club’s new course next to the spectacular Caldera de Bandama volcanic crater. Rafael Cabrera Bello is the club’s most famous member, having learned to play the game here in the early 1990s but his sister Emma shouldn’t be forgotten as she’s also been an LET professional player since 2008.
It’s a compact little course, measuring 5,636 metres from the regular markers, with only one par five on the outward half and a couple of three-shotters on the other nine. The short par four 1st hole sets the tone for the round, played from an elevated tee across a gully to a sand-protected green on the other side.
You’ll rarely find a flat lie as the fairways are routed across tumbling terrain and holes sometimes play uphill, sometimes downhill or even across the slopes. Looking at the scorecard, you might frown at the number of holes that seem to be laid out in parallel but they’re been set out to efficiently fit the contours and are nicely separated by a variety of trees.
The toughest hole at Real Las Palmas is easily the par four 14th, rated stroke index 1, which doglegs left and down from the tee before heading up a severe incline to the green. That’s a difficult hole to challenge the best of players but ordinary golfers might have a harder task selecting their favourite hole because there are lots to choose from.
I really liked the four short holes, especially the uphill 3rd, played along the southern edge of the property to a wonderful offset green that’s guarded by long cigar-shaped bunkers at the front and rear of the putting surface. The longest par three at the 15th is a bit trickier, with a hidden bunker to the left of the green catching many who can’t see it off the tee.
Summing up the playing experience at Real Las Palmas: Highly recommended.