Salobre Golf Resort in Gran Canaria, Spain, has appointed David Williams to review its two 18-hole courses and develop a master plan to guide future renovation work.
The resort’s Old layout opened in 1999 and was designed by Roland Favré, with Dave Thomas initially involved in the project. The New course, designed by Ron Kirby, followed in 2008 and is routed around a hilly and volcanic landscape with steep ravines featuring on many holes. Favré’s Old course is a par 71 of 6,370 yards while Kirby’s New layout is a par 70 of 5,729 yards.
The New was closed at the onset of the Covid pandemic in early 2020, although nine holes (one to three and 13 to 18 – the nearest holes to the clubhouse) will reopen later this year, in time for the Canary Islands’ busy winter season. One part of Williams’ plan is to advise on renovations for holes four to 12.
“We were initially contacted by Grupo Satocan’s president Juan Miguel Sanjuan y Jover and chief executive Jose Julio Artiles, owners of the resort, when they heard my presentation of my master plan to members at Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas – the oldest golf club in Spain – earlier in the year,” said Williams. “Javier Suarez, formerly CEO of Las Palmas, provided an introduction.
“Following our appointment, I made a very useful week-long visit to Salobre in July 2022, inspecting both courses in detail with Alejandro González, director of golf at the resort, during which the main issues concerning the two courses were discussed in detail.
“Improving sustainability of the courses is one of the issues we’ll be addressing, including a proposal to make a large reduction in water usage by greatly reducing grassed areas, and introducing areas of picón [local sand] in carry areas and off all fairways. We had useful meetings and inspections with Luis Cornejo of Surtec Golf Agronomy, who has been appointed to advise the resort on agronomy and irrigation issues, and with whom we have previously worked on other golf projects in Spain.”
Williams will analyse bunkering on both courses and is considering the introduction of bunker liner and edging materials to improve their aesthetics and maintenance.
“I am a great advocate of making resort courses, such as these at Salobre, an enjoyable experience for the casual holiday golfer and regular higher handicap players, whilst at the same time making it a more challenging test for better players,” said Williams. “Our regrassing and rebunkering work will be geared to meeting these aims, which we have achieved elsewhere through good design.”
Williams will also focus on the relationship between the two courses, and how they compete with others on the island. “One particular challenge at Salobre is the difference between the two layouts,” said Williams. “The Old is a typical resort course, mainly surrounded by housing but providing the holiday golf experience so loved by visiting players. In contrast, the New is in a wild and untamed landscape, with far-reaching views without any glimpse of buildings or other development. So, emphasising that difference is one of the challenges to be met in the master plan, explaining to all players that while the New is the shorter of the two courses, it isn’t automatically the easiest, especially with its dramatic long carries over ravines.”
Another issue that Williams aims to address is the impact that the continuing housing development near the Old course is having, with recent construction having affected safety on some holes. He is already considering re-positioning and realigning some tees in response.
Williams is aiming to complete the master plan later this autumn, with construction to start before the end of the year.