Golf Course Architecture - Issue 68, April 2022

56 Although short, at little more than 5,500 metres (6,015 yards), the course is no pushover. Mackenzie Ross’s greens are its principal defence, and they do the job stoutly. The site, at 37 hectares (91 acres) is tiny for an eighteen-hole course, and it is to the original architect’s credit that he managed to fit eighteen interesting holes, with, in most places, more than adequate width (there are a few tight spots, but they are the exception to the rule) into such a small parcel. There is no prospect of extending the property; in places the course is hard against roads, and in others it comes right up to the volcanic caldera (the view from the clubhouse is quite remarkable; more of that later). Elsewhere, though, the course is not without its problems. Water is hard to come by on the island; the main source of drinking water is desalination, while the golf course is irrigated with wastewater. This is all very well, but good management demands a fallback plan, and some sort of water storage is certainly desirable; but there are few good places to build such storage on a mountain plateau. The bunkers – many of which are not original – are not in the best of condition. But in my opinion, the most pressing problem is the tree stock. The property, which was barely treed at all when the course was built in the 1950s, now has over 3,000 trees and, being a tight site, these mostly stand, sentry-like, in lines between the holes, far from the sort of clumped planting that looks natural. There are many different species, from the indigenous Canarian pines, through yellow mimosas and any number of palm trees. It is, frankly, something of a mess, and the course would benefit hugely from a strategic plan to reduce the number of species and focus attention on those that actually belong there, principally the Canarian pines. With these priorities in mind, the club has engaged British architect David Williams (who has been working at Pedreña on the Spanish mainland, a club to which Real Las Palmas is close, for some time) to produce a long-range master plan for improvements. The plan was initially produced in 2018, and now the club is just about ready to start executing it – Williams submitted a final revision to the club in early March. “The course has changed massively since it was built,” says Williams. “The greens were all rebuilt in the 1980s, every hole is now played through a corridor of trees, and there are a lot of non-original features. I’m not a fan of bunkers behind greens, and there REAL LAS PALMAS The caldera of an extinct volcano provides a backdrop for golf at Real Las Palmas