The Ritz-Carlton, Abama is the most prestigious resort on the Canary Island of Tenerife. The terracotta citadel, built in a Moorish-style, is absolutely enchanting. With Atlantic Ocean views across to the island of La Gomera and a thrilling collection of holes, Abama is a modern European course destined for success.
The golf course at Abama Golf was originally featured on this website as a gem following a nomination by Jim McCann back in 2005. Since then, the Dave Thomas-designed 6,271-metre Abama has moved directly into our Spanish rankings and is a serious contender for a Top 100 Continental European ranking position. Jim McCann wrote the following article:
I first came across this new Dave Thomas-designed course in May 2005 when it had just opened. You’ll part with a green fee that is around double what you would pay at other courses in Tenerife but believe me, it is worth every cent for a superior golfing experience.
Up until then, I had never used a buggy on a course before but such is the terrain, with substantial changes in elevation throughout, that Abama’s GPS buggies are an absolute necessity. It’s evident that some real resources have been spent on making the course look as if it has been there for a long time – from immaculate tee boxes to velvet like greens, from lush fairways to concreted cart paths, this place has class stamped on it throughout.
There are thousands of palm trees on the property and a couple of dozen lakes strategically placed to come into play – especially on the signature par 5 10th where the elevation changes dramatically from the elevated teeing areas downhill, past lakes and waterfalls on the left and bunkers on the right, to a green doglegged on the left – simply a stunning hole that will last in the memory for a long time.
The hotel was still being constructed when I first played but it has now been built to the same 5-star luxury standard as the massive clubhouse. One of the greens was under repair when I played because there was a professional event being held soon but when I replayed the course in 2010 all the greens were in pristine condition.
The Abama Open de Canarias European Tour event was the first professional competition hosted by Abama in October 2005 and England’s John Bickerton claimed first prize after carding a four round total of 274 to win by five shots. The following year, Rikka Hakkarainan from Finland clinched her maiden victory on the Ladies European Tour in the 5th Tenerife Ladies Open, holding off Spain's Tania Elosegui Mayor by two shots.
Visiting holidaymakers who love their golf should travel the extra few kilometres from the established golfing zone around Las Americas to play here, as it is a wonderful venue for the more discerning golfer.
Played 2 rounds here in November and even as hotel guests the fee was €160/ person - so it is roughly twice as much as other courses! I'm afraid it looks better from the clubhouse than it plays... obviously millions more were spent on building this than any other course on Tenerife....but that doesn't guarantee enjoyment although the terrain does account for this perhaps. I counted 14 shots across the 18 holes which are either blind or where you cannot see the surface of the green, off the tee however it's not too bad.The elevation changes are severe and I generally dislike hitting into greens where you have to guess the shape of the surface. Yes the buggies have sat nav but it gives only a rough picture. I also witnessed playing partners putting off greens because in many places the slopes were severe - it just spoils enjoyment. I don't wish to be a golf snob but we often get paired in Spain with couples that are very pleasant but have handicaps in the 24+ range - and witnessing their efforts this course in particular could never bring enjoyment- it's too tricky. All in all we much prefer Adeje and Las Americas.
The views you get of the Atlantic are incredible and it’s difficult not to get distracted on most of the holes. The condition of the course was superb and the greens were very true and fast, and no matter how many times I allowed for the break towards the ocean I still managed to misjudge just how much break there was, some of the breaks are so subtle you can scarcely believe it. Off the whites 3 of the par 3’s were playing over 200 yards long so we invariably had over 30ft putts for birdie (or par!) which were made all the more difficult by the breaks and speed of the greens.
Some of the landing areas off the tee are so narrow with sloping fairways and out of bounds that I decided to hit 3 wood off most of the tees, you can certainly get away with driver but as I said certain holes have narrow landing areas with well placed bunkering, it is definitely a course you have to plot your way round. Buggies are compulsory which I don’t normally like but there is no way you could walk the course, it is very hilly in places and some of the distances between green and tee are a fair distance. Certain holes had fresh fruit on the tees which was a nice touch.
This is an expensive course to play at 200 euros but in my opinion is worth every penny, the views alone justify the price tag and fortunately they are backed up by a superbly conditioned golf course where no two holes are the same and if I could play this course every week my golf game would improve significantly, not to mention it was a benign day when we played and can only imagine how difficult the course plays when the wind is up! In terms of challenge and playability I would rate this along with any of the Top courses I have played in the UK, and given half a chance I would take the 4 hr flight to Tenerife just to play this course again, superb!