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  • Neil White

Anfi Tauro

"IS IT A HOLE-IN-ONE?" I bellowed to the applauding greenkeeper from the tee, having seen Mrs W's ball filter towards the cup and then disappear on Anfi Tauro's par-three 15th.

Only when we were halfway to the green did it emerge a foot from the flag.

She tapped in for a two, and it was game on during the home straight on one of Europe's most remarkable golf courses.

We marvelled at the imagination Bjorn Lyng must have had to create a golf resort out of volcanic rock in southern Gran Canaria.

Anfi Tauro has a wow factor because its holes are so different from any we have ever experienced, and its condition is so good.

The greens' speed and the turf's quality on its fairways are remarkable, given the environment.

We played it in shirts and shorts at a temperature of around 23C - providing us with the perfect antidote to the closed courses and freezing temperatures in the UK.

And, in contrast to many holiday courses, we played in just three hours and 20 minutes – and we were even sent a reminder on our buggy screen to maintain our pace.

We found the emphasis on speedy play a little disconcerting early in the round, having been sent to the first tee an hour ahead of schedule without a chance for a practice putt or even hit in the net.

Nevertheless, we cracked on and enjoyed a most memorable round.

The fun began with Mrs W's opening drive, which initially seemed to be in trouble down the right but pinballed on the rocks before the ball dripped into the centre of the fairway.

The first hole is a gentle introduction to two of Anfi Tauro's key features – the moon-like landscape and the speedy, subtle greens. I found this one in regulation two but three-putted because I hadn't grasped the pace.

It is followed by a tough par-five with an accurate tee shot required over rock, scrub and cacti to a fairway, which then bends around palm trees into a target with an undulating green.

Anfi Tauro has five testing par-threes, starting with the third hole, which has a wide stream to the left and a bunker in front of the hole.

The course is designed to make the most of elevation, exemplified by the fourth tee, which looks down on a 90-degree dogleg around a slice of the desert.

Anfi Tauro demands stern course management throughout, and I succumbed on the uphill par-five fifth because, instead of taking my medicine and laying up,

I tried to recover from a wayward tee shot by smashing the ball out of the cloying rough over a tree at the plateaued green.

Inevitably, no Stableford points were accrued.

After the long par-three sixth, water is introduced on the seventh, the most challenging hole on the course.

This is a lengthy par-four around a lake with a mini-waterfall leading towards the green on the left-hand side. Mrs W and I were more than satisfied to pick up bogeys here.

A remarkable feature of the course is how much the natural landscape plays a part, and this is particularly true of the eight, whose target is so tight to the cliff that an overstruck approach could bounce back towards the cup.

There are also many man-made elements, such as the large lake on the ninth, which curves around the hazard from a high tee.

Those who try to avoid the water could find themselves in a crescent of bunkers to the right and behind a tiered green.

If we thought the outward nine were spectacular, they were mere hors d'oeuvre for a back nine, which is simply stunning.

The challenge begins from the drive from the 10th over colourful vegetation and between palm trees on the right and a stony menace on the left.

Once again, a bunker, rocks and dramatic drop-off await those overly ambitious with their approaches.

"That's like a scene from Moonraker," remarked a pal when he saw a recording of my rather pleasing clip towards the 11th.

The tees for the downhill par-three are set into the natural terrain. A pal videoed our shots from his room in the hotel, and I was rather chuffed with mine, which bounced a yard or so from the pin.

He greeted us at the 12th and watched as we nervously tried to weave our tee shots between out-of-bounds to the left and a craggy nightmare to the right.

The hole then curves to the right with a cliff face to the left and a fall-off on the opposite side. As we walked along, a ball appeared at our side as if from the heavens. We were soon to find out why.

Yep, the 13th is a par-three from the Gods. From the highest point on the course, the vista across the resort takes the breath away.

It is also a hole that demands pinpoint accuracy. A pull or hook will see the ball fall down the escarpment onto the 12th, and a push will find boulders on the right.

There is another substantial drop from the 14th tee towards the hotel to a fairway that curves gently to a green, defended by a lake and six deep bunkers.

Anfi Tauro's final three holes bring all course elements in a memorable run-in.

So, the 16th is a dogleg over palm trees and scrub before a target surrounded by stone walls. It is followed by a par-four adjacent to the hillside, with a giant rock to the right of the green and a big bunker to the left.

The 18th is the sister of the ninth, a par-five overlooking a fairway bending around the lake's left to a two-tiered putting surface. It is a handsome final hole with the chance of last-minute glory for the adventurous.

It completed a most memorable round, complemented by convivial drinks and food with our friends and their pals.

Anfi Tauro is an up-market resort, and those staying there are in for a treat on several levels.

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