The sun lives in Tenerife

Here is the story written by Baltic-Breaks owner and Executive Manager Svetlana Vinogradova about her golfing trip to Tenerife, Spain.

The Sun lives in Tenerife

In September I had a chance to go to Tenerife and take part in the 10th International Golf Challenge as a golf tour operator. I would like to share my impressions about the golf courses and about the hotels.

As it was my first trip to the island part of Spain, I worried a lot  about which my first impressions would be. The flight from Tallinn can be done by charter holders in October but, as my trip was in September, I flew for a long time. If you are planning your holiday, it is better to choose a charter flight to Tenerife which will be from 16.10.  on Friday and from then it will be every Thursday until April. It is going to take only 6 hours. If you fly by a regular flight, it took me around 12 hours. I had to fly via Helsinki and Madrid and then I landed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Southern airport. The Southern airport is only 20 minutes drive from the hotel I was staying at –  Jardin Tropical. As I landed at night it took me only about half an hour to get to the hotel by taxi and it cost me 35 Euros. I was staying in Jardin Tropical hotel. It had a stunning architecture and 400 rooms. However, the hotel has been designed in such a way that I didn’t feel a lot of people were staying there. Arabian motifs were felt everywhere in the hotel. It is located in Costa Adeje, the most exclusive and the most expensive place in Tenerife.

Tenerife is an ideal spot for spending your vacation as the average annual temperature there is 23 degrees centigrade. The island is only 300 kms from Africa and there are both golden sand beaches  in the South and those with the volcanic sand in the North. It is also very green.

The most important thing is that they have two modern airports – Tenerife North and Tenerife South. Our planes arrive in Tenerife South which is situated close to all the golf courses. At one small island there is a very big number of different landscapes. You can find there mountains of volcanic origin (the highest being Teide volcano at 3,718 metres – the highest peak not only in Tenerife, but in the whole Spain). There are also different gorges, rocks and beautiful laurisilva forests. All these features make the island unique and you feel this atmosphere when you are there a lot. Sea, an important thing for us, is also there.

From my hotel room (Jardin Tropical) I could enjoy wonderful views on the Ocean and on the neighbouring La Gomera island. We had a splendid breakfast in the hotel that I could enjoy. They even gave champagne for breakfast. There are also two swimming pools in the hotel, one with fresh water and the other one with salty water that was around 18-20 degrees in temperature. The pool was near Las Rocas restaurant.

What I liked is that the hotel’s location gave me a possibility to visit all the golf courses. There are 6 altogether on the South, the furthest being at the distance of 17 kms. A stunning golf club from the Northern part of the island, Buenavista golf, is around 60 kms from the hotel. However, you spend around 2.5 hours travelling there as you have to drive via all the island. And you can to return by a mountain serpentine which takes 1.5 hours. Unfortunately, you cannot use the serpentine in the morning because the traffic is too heavy and it would take more than 2.5 hours, you will be wasting your time in numerous traffic jams.

If you want to stay in the North a good choice would be Vincci Seleccion Buenavista Golf  & Spa hotel which is located on the premises of Buenavista golf club and then Buenavista golf club will be your domestic golf course.

Traditional Canarian cuisine offers lots of seafood the peak of it being the famous parrotfish which I would recommend to try in Las Rocas restaurant, it would cost you around 19 euros only. It’s better to walk along the promenade with its number of restaurants. It is more available and cheaper if you dine outside your hotel where there is the promenade, lots of shopping centres and restaurants.

Other gastronomic specialities include goat cheese, local wine, but the most famous thing about Tenerife cuisine is it seafood and meat. Seafood include the mentioned parrotfish, seabass, sole, and tuna. Popular meat dishes are rabbit, goat and veal.

You can go there with the whole family, there will be something to do for everyone. There are activities for the whole family.

As for eating and drinking in Adeje there is everything starting from Spanish restaurants and finishing with English pubs. There are first-class shopping centres and Siam Park, the largest water theme park in Europe and the only heated open-air water fun park. When I was there surfers were performing there on the artificial wave machine capable of generating waves of up to 3 meters and there was a wonderful dinner.

I was lucky, I spent the whole week in Tenerife and I had the first day free so I could use it for playing golf at La Gomera island, Tecina golf course.

In Tenerife, everything is prepared for you to enjoy this sport. It is the island of golf.  The climate, mild throughout the year, allows you to have a pleasant game both in winter and summer, as on Tenerife it is always spring. There are eight golf courses to choose from located in both the north and the south. I managed to play on four of them. I went to Tecina from the hotel Jardin Tropical, I ordered the taxi, it took around 15 minutes early in the morning. The first ferry to La Gomera was early in the morning.  The ferry costs 30 EUR return and takes around 30 minutes.

Vacation on Tenerife can be combined with La Gomera. You may play golf and stay in Hotel Jardin Tecina, a beautiful hotel built in the form of bungalows in Canarian style. There are also tennis courts where you can play tennis. In the evening there is a show of live music and the theatre. If you still want to stay a couple of days at La Gomera island if your second person doesn’t play golf, there are trekking routes and deep water fishing and diving. Hotel Jardin Tecina offers all this, you can find everything there. Those who don’t want to swim in the pool can swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

When I arrived, the taxi costs 35 EUR one way. It will take you from the place where ferry by Fred Olsen company arrives to the golf course. The taxi driver was a Spanish guy who didn’t speak English and spoke only Spanish trying to tell about everything, about the island, about how long he worked as a taxi driver. My modest knowledge of Spanish and gestures helped me to understand him. The road was a serpentine. When I arrived at the hotel I took the free shuttle bus to get to the clubhouse, and from the clubhouse to the first tee. It is impossible to get there on foot. There is a small restaurant in the clubhouse, the dressing room with a shower and a pro-shop. In the restaurant I liked a huge bunch of bananas which you can take with you to the golf course to eat. You may pick as many bananas as you like and take them to the golf course.

The landscape is very mountainous and gives views to the sea and to the mountains. The most spectacular hole is the 4th which requires a high degree of accuracy as there are a lot of obstacles on the way. The fairway is rather irregular with two platforms of different heights bordered on the left by a striking ravine. The choice of club is fundamental if you want to play the hole in just 2 strokes. A fiver might be a good option provided the wind isn’t too strong. The green, although it is pretty accessible, is well-protected by a bunker on the apron and the path on the right hand side of the fairway with the result that the playing area is considerably reduced. Once you have reached the green and depending on the location of your ball, it is possible to putt taking into account the unevenness of the ground. Getting down in three is almost obligatory for any player with a handicap under 10.

I would recommend using the buggy there as the landscape is very mountainous and walking may be rather difficult.

I didn’t manage to play the 4th hole in three strokes but the local pro gave me the aforesaid advise. You can use it if you happen to play there. If you don’t want to spend a couple of nights on La Gomera island you may leave Tenerife early in the morning and come back by the ferry at 17.00. If you start playing at 10.00 you will make it to the ferry easily. The taxi driver on the way back spoke English a bit and showed me a beautiful rock in the shape of a lion.

We had the pro-am tournament next day, it took part on the Golf Costa Adeje golf course where Tenerife Ladies Open tournament also took part. All the cream of golfing society took part there including Laura Davies, Becky Brewerton, Diana Luna and Tania Elosegui. I didn’t play in the tournament, but I played the scramble with a young Italian pro Matia Maffiuletti. I was very impressed playing with her. Not only did I have a good game of golf, but I also learned a lot of new things. Playing with Matia was very useful and informative.

Golf Club Costa Adeje has two golf courses, the 18 hole Championship course and the 9 hole Los Lagos course which I played. The course respects the old farming terraces of the area. Tenerife Ladies’ Open itself took place on the Championship course and we played on Los Lagos course.

Los Lagos course is marked by mountainous landscape.

Next day I managed to play at Golf del Sur golf course – 27 holes. I played 18 holes. It is situated only 5 minutes away from Reina Sofia airport (Southern Tenerife) and built in an area that has been declared to be of national importance to tourism. Golf del Sur is definitely one of the most important golf complexes on the island. It opened its doors in 1987 with the aim of becoming one of the great courses in European golf. The original 27-hole project is a work of a famous designer Pepe Gancedo, but it was Manuel Pinero who was responsible for making Golf del Sur the only course on the Canary Islands with three competition routes. The complex has 27 holes on 3 rounds that are perfectly differentiated. The Northern Course of 2,949 meters has 9 holes, including 2 par 3s, 5 par 4s and 2 par 5s. On the Southern course there are 2 par 3s, 5 par 4s and 2 par 5s at a length of 2,957 m. The 36 shots of a newly opened links course include 2 par 3s, 5 par 4s, and 2 par 5s at a length of 2,853 m. The geography of the terrain has a notable influence on the characteristics of each round. The presence of the sea and the striking ravines, which give shape to the course, provide the player with the option of getting maximum enjoyment from every visit that he makes to Golf del Sur. The fairways, which are wide and uneven, have numerous natural obstacles. The presence of a number of lakes contrasts with the spectacular bunkers of volcanic sand, which protect the greens. The facilities of Golf del Sur are comparable with those of the great European golf complexes. The clubhouse in the traditional style has space to house events of all kinds with a support of a polished restaurant service. The golf shop offers customers both equipment for hire as well as a wide range of the most famous brands for sale. With the creation of the beginners’ school, all the guests can have golf lessons. The driving range and the putting and chipping green complete a superb practice area. Golf del Sur gives you the opportunity to share the same sensation as many of the greats of the game of golf when they competed on such an emblematic course.

We had a tournament there where I took part and there were four of us playing. I was satisfied, but for the first time the course is difficult.

A remarkable hole is the 9th one. The new route of the links course offers the player the option of putting his entire range of strokes to the test. The 9th is a par 3, 137-meter, 9 handicap hole. Its main difficulty lies in the difference in height between the tee and the green. The selection of the club will depend on a decisive factor: the wind. A first shot with a pitching witch is reserved to experienced players who wish to lay down a challenge to the headwind. The green is broad and presents a slight fall from left to right. If you have managed to get over the bunkers, which protect the flag, you will be putting for a birdie. These are the recommendations given to me by the local pro – they might be helpful if you happen to play Golf del Sur.

I didn’t manage to play on Abama golf course but Abama received all the guests at the gala dinner and the territory and the hotel itself are of luxury class. If someone has a possibility then I recommend it to spend your holiday staying in Abama hotel. Abama features volcanic landscapes, exuberant vegetation with over 300 varieties of plants, trees and palm trees, with breathtaking panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean and the Island of La Gomera. With a spectacular situation on the West Coast of Tenerife on the smooth slopes of the Teide, the highest peak in Spain, our Tenerife hotel is set on breathtaking landscape that runs all the way down to the ocean and features its own exclusive beach of gold beach. It is situated in a quiet place with wonderful views over the Atlantic Ocean. Our dinner took part in the restaurant on the beach, and the dessert was designed as a composition of golf club with different sweet things. What I remember are the chocolate golf balls.

The hotel was designed in modernist style merged with North African traditions and Chinese principles. You can enjoy all types of food there, from Japanese to traditional European cuisine. All the rooms in Abama hotel are very luxurious, from standard rooms to deluxe ones.

If you stay in Abama hotel then your domestic golf course will be Abama golf where you have 22 lakes and 25,000 palm trees on the premises of the golf course, a course is for 18 holes, well technically equipped.

Since spring 2005 lovers of golf on Tenerife can enjoy complex which its creators have classified as much more than a golf course. Located in the borough of Gia de Isora, Abama golf was designed to satisfy the needs of the most demanding players. The British Dave Thomas was responsible for designing this new concept in which nature and skills blend to create a space that was hitherto unknown in the Canary Islands. The 18 holes on the course, with an area of 670,000 square metres and the length of 6,237 m, include 10 par 4s, 4 par 3s and 4 par 5s. Abama golf has managed to take advantage of each and every one of the elements which its contours offer including significant height differences and sinuous undulations giving beauty to the course where you can find more than 50,000 trees and tropical palms. One of the most spectacular aspects of Abama golf is a presence of numerous lakes which contrast with the impeccable powdered marvel of the bunkers, which are scattered all over the course. Challenging fairways and broad greens show you the character of the course, which surprises you at every stroke. Apart from the main course, the complex also has a large practice area which gives support to the ambitions project which aims to make Abama a course of reference in world golf. With this objective, the facilities of Abama golf share the philosophy of luxury and attention to detail. The clubhouse offers all the services required to satisfy the needs of its clients. Martin Berasategui, one of the great geniuses of international gastronomy, deserves a special mention. Each and every one of the flavours offered by Abama bears his stamp. Exclusivity and an indescribable sensation of well-being are just some of the ingredients making up what this complex has to offer. A five-star grand luxe hotel, private villas, a spa and endless quality services make Abama a new way of understanding golf.

I haven’t had the chance to play at Abama but the local pro has given me the following recommendations which you may follow if you are lucky enough to play there. One of most spectacular holes is the 6th one known as La Gomera. It is a good opportunity to try to improve on your par. This par 5, 442-meter, 15 handicap hole has a fairway that folds away which on sunny days offers a striking view of the island of La Gomera. With your first stroke you could choose one of the two possible points of access to the green. You could use a number one wood attempting to overcome the bunker that is located in the centre of the fairway. The flag, which is well-protected by bunkers, is the objective for your second shot. A five-iron or a wood for the fairway are the best option to reach the green in two. The putting surface is broad and uneven so you have to examine the ground carefully before fitting your ball. You put for a birdie fulfilling your aim of improving on a par.

My friends who played at Abama golf say that it is advisable to take a buggy as distances are too long and walking may be tiring.

On the last day we played in Buenavista golf course. We played 18 holes in the teams of four again with three gentlemen. The game went easily and brought me a lot of pleasure. From every hole there is a wonderful view over the Ocean. They have a modern clubhouse overlooking the Ocean and the mountains, there is a bar and a restaurant. You can eat and drink there after the game.

The remarkable hole is the 9th one. I remember the following recommendations given to me by the local pro. The unmistakable standards of Severiano Ballesteros is clear along much of the course. The 9th is a par 5 11 handicap. It’s 468 metres of a slight dogsleg to the left with a range of natural obstacles scattered here and there. With our first shot we will try to find the right-hand side of the fairway attempting to leave the ball as close as possible to the bunker. The tee shot with a driver ought to ensure shot over 250 metres. The green, well-protected by a strategic water trap, is the objective of our second shot. The use of a hybrid ought to allow a stroke with a two-iron taking the ball to the right of the flag. A moderate slope from left to right on the green obliges us to calculate our first putt methodically. Only a few centimetres from the flag we put the ball down for birdie on our last stroke.

To sum it up, some recommendations on my part. I recommend to rent a car if you want to travel around the island. This will save your time and you won’t be dependant on the transfers and Jardin Tropical hotel as well as all other hotels have parkings. When you travel to La Gomera, the ferry is also equipped so that you can take your car with you.

If you are going to visit Tenerife and play golf there you may contact me and I will give you recommendations of local pros how to get through the holes.

Svetlana Vinogradova

Baltic-Breaks Golf Tour Operator, Tallinn

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