THE apology was offered swiftly on our arrival in Tenerife and was repeated by many – all were sorry for the effects of La Calima, a wind of African origin which had been blowing over the island for several days.
It was set to continue during our brief stay and would, we were told, lead to slightly increased levels of humidity and temperature. The apologies were well intended, and showed how Tenerife’s populace is used to the island’s temperate climate, but heat closer to 30C rather than low 20s is hardly the worst thing with which British golfers normally have to contend.
And a little more perspiring during the round? Just another excuse to linger longer après golf over a beer on the sun-blessed clubhouse terraces at the island’s courses; it has nine and we played three during our stay.
We were based at the excellent five-star Las Madrigueras Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, and the fantasist in me revelled in the lift’s descent to a floor two levels below the reception area to climb into awaiting golf buggies. As we accessed the adjoining Las Americas golf course via security pass-operated electronic door and gate, images of James Bond and Goldfinger were brought to my mind.
The pragmatist would revel in the fact that he or she can finish breakfast at the hotel’s Restaurant Belle Vue, overlooking its swimming pool, and be on the first tee in little more than five minutes.
Las Americas is the perfect holiday golf course: challenging enough in parts for the low-handicap player to enjoy it, not of sufficient length to discourage the middle-handicapper, nor penal to the extent that it fills the high-handicapper with dread.
Our second golfing destination, Abama, on the other hand, boasts 20 lakes. While the sight of a vast expanse of adjoining water, ie the Atlantic Ocean, is easy on the eye, water on a course can induce apprehension among golfers.
However, the lakes enhance the exceptional visual appeal of a course whose fairways roll, dip and curve like the path of a drunken hang-glider.
Playing with a member who knows the track would be a distinct help in assessing both blind shots and those where the terrain can be visually deceptive, as well as being on hand to give a read on its undulating greens.
Abama’s golf course certainly asks plenty of questions of a player, although should you have the means, the question you may ask yourself is whether to purchase a one, two or three-bedroomed flat or a luxury custom villa on site as your golfing holiday home.
In terms of difficulty, Costa Adeje, past venue for the Ladies European Tour’s Tenerife Open, probably sits between Las Americas and Abama. Like both the Las Madrigueras Hotel and Abama, it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the eyes are constantly tugged towards an alluring view.
Built on the site of a former banana plantation, its original wall stones were restored and integrated into the championship layout. The player assigned to drive the buggy for the day needs to be aware that some are incorporated to provide tiered fairways meaning the caution “please drive carefully” applies to both their tee shot and their steering.
While La Calima’s influence did not in any way spoil the experience of what is a blissful golfing destination, it did mean that our whale-watching trip saw us unable to tally so much as a single sighting of any of the pilot whales which inhabit the island’s coastal waters. Such an occurrence was, it seems, almost as rare as a hole-in-one.
The haziness which La Calima induced on the island was also present on our drive through Teide National Park, but the veil it drew across the views out to sea did not diminish the ethereal allure of terrain created by the volcano, Mount Teide.
At 12,200ft, its peak is the highest point in Spain, and the landscape created by past eruptions stretches to a circumference of around 30 miles. The drive up to it sees the scenery change from that akin to the Alps to one which is both serene and surreal.
Huge expanses of solidified magma stretch out on either side of the road, its black starkness punctured by the occasional presence of trees and bushes. They appear to be growing in defiance of a wilderness that has been the backdrop for films such as One Millions Years BC, but the soil is nutrient and mineral rich and the area has more than 150 plant species, 33 of which are endemic to Tenerife.
Although it is among the world’s top 10 most-visited parks and Teide is the most-visited natural wonder of Spain, save for those at a rest stop offering refreshments we saw few other people.
Standing in the quiet and solitude of this sun-bathed lunar-like landscape, I pondered the forces which had created it, the time that had passed since, the meaning of man’s existence – and how long it might be before I get to play golf again on this enticing island.
I’m much more of a golfer than I am either a geologist or a philosopher.
• Chris Stratford is a member of the International Golf Travel Writers Association.
He travelled with Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline operating flights to Tenerife from Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham, London Gatwick and London Luton airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £69.99 one way.
For further information visit www.monarch.co.uk
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