As one famous journalist once said, “Severiano Ballesteros is one of the very few golfers in the history of this sport who is capable of ‘lighting his own fire’. Perhaps he’s just the figure that can light the fire for Tenerife’s aim to become a permanent member on the world golfing circuit.
Following last year’s hosting of the Spanish Open, the focus has been on Tenerife golf to provide further challenges to the tee-time fraternity and boost the sport as one of the major assets to the island’s visitor appeal.
The island’s latest fairway offering opened in December to a glut of worldwide media attention, not least because of the legendary status of its designer, the very same Severiano Ballesteros who attended the ribbon cutting furore and provided the assembled masses with a show of iron prowess.
Trick shots aside, will this new course promote the region up the world league of quality golfing destinations into the premier division alongside the likes of the Algarve, Andalucia and Florida?
Not quite yet, according to Seve. But not because of the quality of courses, only due to the quantity; “I think the island needs about a dozen courses to begin competing with other more established golf regions.” The number now stands at nine, not far off the dozen, but that’s not to say that it can’t provide a permanent venue for major permanent competitions.
Of his own course, Seve says, “It is an extraordinary layout . . . conceived to be able to celebrate selective tournaments and at the same time be a challenge to any handicap.”
There’s no denying that the layout is spectacular – compact, but spectacular.
Situated in Buenavista del Norte on the extreme north-eastern corner of the island, the course lies at the foot of the Teno mountain range, a natural protected area. Teno features some of the most emblematic spots and landscapes of Tenerife, such as the hidden hamlet of Masca.
The course is located in a place known as ‘La Fuente Estate’, taking its name from the 17th century family home of the former owner. This estate had a small natural pool near the cliffs. Its reconstruction will soon begin, providing it with the necessary installations for recreational use by anyone, golfers or not.
Also in progress on land bordering the course is a desalination plant that will ensure the course is self-sufficient as far as water is concerned, leaving the natural water resources of the area for agriculture. Additionally, the plant will receive electric power from a wind turbine which will be built nearby. In this way, the course will use as much renewable energy as possible.
Incorporating as many of the natural resources as possible has been important for Seve in his design; “I’ve used the natural contours of the land to determine the flow of the course,” he says, claiming it to be “the best course on the island”.
“I hope that this course will host the Spanish Open and maybe the Seve Trophy.” Bold ambitions for a course that is merely months old, but Seve is insistent that the course is ready now, albeit with a few modifications; “The majority of the holes can be played in many different ways. Of course, for a major tournament, the course would be changed. The pins would be placed in (more challenging) positions.”
This adaptability means that Buenavista Golf can be played by golfers at all stages of experience, from beginner to scratch. “My whole philosophy is that golf should be a game enjoyed at all levels, by all the family. I think it has turned out very well. I’m very proud.”
Golf lessons in Tenerife
Also on site will be a Seve Ballesteros Natural Golf School, emulating two similar schools based in southern Spain and Ireland. But why ‘Natural’?
“Because golf should be about natural movement, stripping away the technicalities that confuse the student. All my instructors will teach techniques based on the natural abilities of each student,” he explains. “Good teaching is rooted in transmitting to the pupil in a few well chosen words how easy a golf swing can be. Come to my school and you will see how a good swing can, and must, continue to make progress. The approach of my teaching is both original and different from that of any other golf school in the world. Teaching players a way of thinking for themselves means that they will no longer be dependent on a specific teacher in order to continue to make progress. I transmit a style which is truly intuitive, which I have mastered in the different aspects of the game. A style which is transformed into a natural swing. A swing which does not feel fabricated and constructed.
The programme is designed for all levels, from beginners up to advance golfers offering a preparation in all aspects of the game and, through the naturalness of movement, simply with a style of reasoning that is easy to assimilate.”
In short, the Seve Ballesteros Natural Golf School teaches its pupils that the most outstanding virtue of the game is achieved by means of sheer desire. The same desire that made Seve one of the most dynamic, outstanding and supremely gifted golfers of all time