Salobre is the only resort in the Canary Islands that can boast a 36-hole golf facility. The Old course was first unveiled in 1999 and the New course followed nine years later when Ron Kirby somehow managed to route a spectacular 18-hole layout around the very hilly volcanic landscape that dominates the south coast of Gran Canaria.
The New course isn’t long, measuring only 5,239 metres from the back markers, but the use of a buggy is absolutely essential here because the fairways dogleg up and down little valleys, with serious changes in elevation occurring on a hole-by-hole basis across testing terrain – it’s no exaggeration to say this is a course like no other you will ever play!
The front nine is configured with four par threes, three par fives and only two par fours and the best of these holes is reckoned to be the short par five 5th, where an intimidating tee shot must carry a rocky lava field to reach the fairway. The hole then veers right to a green that’s flanked by a large waste bunker on the right side of the putting surface.On the back nine, the white-knuckle ride continues as holes rise and fall, weaving one way then the other. Highlights include the wickedly contoured green on the severe uphill 10th, the cross bunkered fairway on the 14th and the closing par five 18th, where the home green sits behind a small reservoir.
I’ve seen the Salobre Sur (now the Old) course previously marketed as “The Beauty Course,” with the Salobre Norte (now the New) course termed “The Beast course,” and having played both of them now, I can understand why some golfers will like the Old but not necessarily take to the much quirkier New.
There’s a sign at the 1st tee which says “WELCOME – Challenge yourself with the Tricky New Course and Discover the Real Player That You Have Inside” so you know right from the get go that this probably won’t be an average round of golf. Examine the par rating for the holes on the scorecard and a start of 5-3-5-3-5 might set a few alarm bells off in your head!
The New course followed on from the Old at Salobre a decade ago, laid out on much hillier terrain to the north of the resort, and there have been a few changes made to the opening and closing holes since the layout first opened for play. Holes 1 and 2 used to both play as par fours, with holes 16 and 17 set up as a par five and a par four instead of the par four and par three configuration that’s now in use.
Really, you have to marvel at how some of the holes were actually built on such an inhospitable site, where much of it resembles a cross between the Arizona desert and a lunar landscape. Then again, others might be less charitable and argue that a golf course should never have been constructed on such testing topography.
I thought it was a terrific golfing romp in the hills on an afternoon not to be taken too seriously – how can you possibly treat such an excursion as anything other than a fun round of golf when a buggy sign on the path next to the 11th green advises on the time it will take to drive up to the next tee as: “NEXT TEE 3 MINUTES >”.
My notes cover quite a gamut of hole descriptions, ranging from “SPECTACULAR” to “DAFT!” but, apart from the disappointing par three 2nd, silly par three 12th (which used to be a short par four) and highly contrived closing hole, I really enjoyed my round on the New course at Salobre.
Not wishing to sound too disparaging, it’s definitely worth playing for a good chuckle – just remember to bring some extra balls in your golf bag… and don’t dare try to walk the course as you’ll probably kill yourself in the attempt!
This is the 2nd time that I have played this course and whilst there are higher ranked courses in the vicinity (Maspalomas and Anfi) this course is unique as it built in the mountains with the majority of the holes running along gorge edges. The views are stunning and worth an Albatross rating alone. The course is quite short, with easy reachable Par 5’s and probably slightly too many Par 3’s to rank it higher. Also, if you haven’t played it before some of the holes will catch you out. They have shortened the 12th from Par 4 to Par 3 as golfers were advising that it was too hard. The new par 3 is simply too short and more needs to be done on this hole. The finish has also been changed over the last 4 holes in recent years, again to make it easier. Salobre need to advise Garmin as the device still is programmed to the old course route. This is a very enjoyable, if quirky test of golf with some stunning views. My stand out holes are the 3rd, 5th (tee off 200 yards over a ravine), and 11th. Slick greens to boot.