Golfing in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura
Earlier this year, we published an article exploring all the golf facilities on the island of Gran Canaria. Having already visited all of the courses in the neighbouring islands of Tenerife and La Gomera, we thought it might be a good way to round off our Canary Islands golfing education by taking a short trip to look at the half a dozen 18-hole layouts on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
We already maintain a Top 100 chart for Spain – supported by five regional listings within the national rankings, one of which includes a Top 15 for the Canary Islands – and now that we’ve seen all twenty-one contenders, we think we’re in a good position to fully appraise the relative merits of all the Canarian courses on this popular archipelago in the Atlantic.
We started off by visiting the two courses on Lanzarote, the fourth largest of the islands in the Canaries.
Located a mere fifteen minutes by car to the northwest of Arrecife international airport, on the volcanic slopes above the coastal area of El Jablillo, the course at Costa Teguise dates back to the late 1970s, when it was set out by the renowned British architect John Harris.
It’s a genuine, championship-standard layout playing long and tough from the back markers, though there are plenty of forward tee options if a more casual game is called for. Make no mistake, this course has flown under the radar for a long time now and it’s one that deserves wider recognition.
A 10-minute drive from the airport in the opposite direction brings you to the Lanzarote Golf course, laid out on the hillside above Puerto del Carmen by Ron Kirby in 2008. The American architect has been involved in a number of golf projects in the Canaries in the last ten years or so, including Salobre (New) and Lopesan Meloneras on Gran Canaria.
Configured with two returning nines, the course weaves its way between rocky outcrops and lava fields, really coming to life on the inward half, where several of the fairways are routed around old, low-lying stone walls. The property isn’t by any means flat though it’s certainly walkable for those who prefer to carry their clubs or use a trolley.
It’s only a short half-hour ferry trip from Playa Blanca in the south of Lanzarote to the port of Corralejo on the northern coast of Fuerteventura, home to another four 18-hole courses.
The course at Jandia Golf Club is situated eighty kilometres from the international airport on Fuerteventura, very close to the southern tip of the island, so it takes around an hour and a half to get there by road from the terminal building. It’s another Ron Kirby design that’s set on either side of the Barranco de Vinamar, with holes running alongside the natural ravine that takes storm water from the hills to the north to nearby Playa del Matorral on the coast.
Jandia Golf Club
The opening and closing four holes occupy ground at the lower end of the valley and they’re a great way to begin and end the round here. There’s also a little loop of three holes at the start of the back nine laid out around the large hotel sitting further uphill at the top end of the layout, affording great views back down towards the Atlantic.
The Playitas sports complex lies five and a half kilometres from Gran Tarajal, the second largest town on Fuerteventura, which in turn is located around midway between Jandia and the airport. There are a multitude of sports available here, from watersports such as diving and swimming to racquet sports like tennis and basketball, but golf also has a big role to play amidst these more energetic activities.
Originally starting out as a small 6-hole circuit, the Playitas course was expanded across the entrance road to the facility by Swiss-based designer John Chilver-Stainer, with the Scottish-born architect adding another twelve holes on hillier terrain to fashion a compact 18-hole track that now extends to just under 5,000 metres.
Don’t let a lack of length put you off Playitas though as this is a delightful little course featuring eight par threes, four of which are played in the last five holes on the original layout next to the clubhouse. The green contouring is among the most imaginative you’ll ever come across, offering a feast of putting conundrums that you’ll remember for a very long time.
The course at Fuerteventura Golf Club was the first to be built on the island at the start of the new millennium and within a couple of years of opening it had hosted the 2004 Spanish Open, won by Frenchman Christian Cévaër. Residential apartments now line the periphery of the course, but never to the extent of unduly interfering with play.
Fuerteventura Golf Club
Designed by Juan Catarineu, who also planned the course at Isla Canela in Huelva on the Spanish mainland, the course at Fuerteventura finishes with a flourish as the routing takes golfers up to the highest point on the property at the penultimate hole before the 18th then plunges back downhill prior to swinging sharply left to the home green.
Salinas de Antigua
Immediately next door to Fuerteventura Golf Club sits the course at Salinas de Antigua, a Manuel Piñero design from 2006. Undulating fairways work their way round large black volcanic waste areas, with large-scale bunkers positioned close to many of the greens. Water also comes into play at half a dozen holes, most notably from the 11th to the 14th on the back nine.
Salinas de Antigua
And just when you might think you’ve read details of every hazard ever written about in a course guide book, the page for the short par four 3rd “El Nido” contains the following advice: “be careful not to drive behind the machine gun nest”. Apparently, the large concrete pill box in the fairway was one of hundreds of similar fortifications built during World War II to repel a possible British invasion but nowadays it serves no other purpose than to hamper tee shots placed too far to the left of the fairway.
Top 100 Golf Courses