On December 17, 1891, a group of amateur British golfers created Spain’s first ever golf course at a place called “Lomo del Polvo”, these days better known as the area stretching between “Altavista” and “Escaleritas” in the island’s capital. They named it The Las Palmas Golf Club, Club de Golf de Las Palmas.
Predating The British Club of Las Palmas by more than a decade, and with perhaps more humble beginnings, it all started in a modest little clubhouse, with a tin roof held down by heavy stones to stop it blowing off in the strong prevailing winds, up on a hilltop, next to where the Korean Church is now, overlooking the then newly expanded port of Las Palmas.
The founding committee, all British and based on Gran Canaria, consisted of Bryan Melland, EC Barker, RC Kitto, Richard Blandy Rid Path, Major General Thomas, J. Forman, Alexander Ferguson and The Reverend Hutchinson, who managed the club chaired by Richard Blandy Rid Path, with Melland as secretary and Sweep as treasurer.
A few years later, in 1898, they would receive the club’s first visit from British Open winners, John Ball (1863-1940) and Harold Hilton (1869-1930) which is considered as the very first event in the professional golfing world to have occurred in Spain. Many society, culture and aristocratic personalities, well known in their day, visited this little outpost of gentlemanly sport.
The peculiarity of the club was known beyond the island due to its rugged novelty, so different from the greens of Scotland and England, which attracted many of the British who stopped on their trips to and from the colonies in South Africa. Caddies had to pile rocks and dirt to fix the boundaries of the course, but despite this these pioneers of golf in Spain created a lasting legacy.
Spain’s future dictator, General Franco, perfected his swing at the club, meeting with his friend the British Consul, during the time he was military governor in The Canary Islands, during the 1930s.
In 1940 Henry Cotton visited; the most important golfer of his time Cotton won the British Open in 1934, 1937 and 1949. Many other famous personalities were also known to visit, along with members of the British merchant families who did so much business here on Gran Canaria throughout the 19th & 20th centuries.
In 1957 the course was moved to its current location, Los Llanos de Bandama, in the municipality of Santa Brigida, what with the quickly growing city of Las Palmas encroaching evermore on the original site, the difficult decision was made, after 66 years, to move the club further out of town and was made possible thanks to collaboration from the top politicians of the day, the then President of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, Matias Vega and the members of the island council, Juan Dominguez, Diego Cambreleng and Pedro Hernandez Castillo.
The acquisition of these lands by the Cabildo of Gran Canaria was made through president Don Matias Vega Guerra specifically for the construction of the golf course, with the aid of Canarian business and sports personality Juan Dominguez Guedes who brought in the famous British golf course architect Mackenzie Ross, with whom Dominguez had cultivated a close friendship during his many visits to England, where his great enthusiasm for the sport, as well as his social influence, led him to be only the second ever Spaniard to become a member of the famous and ancient Saint Andrews Golf Club (after non-other than the prince of Spain in exile, Don Juan de Borbon, Count of Barcelona, grandfather to the current King of Spain). Dominguez and Ross worked together to develop the new course, completed in 1957, at the current site known today simply as Bandama.
In 1986 the almost 100 year old institution had the title Real added to its name, becoming the Royal Las Palmas Golf Club. Spain’s first ever golf trophies are still displayed in the windows of the club along with the oldest of the golf competition cups, the La Palmer (1894), Robinson (1896), K. Erskine (1902) and Medrington (1904), and various other trophies that make up the historic Club Cups, and which are played for year after year.
Major tournaments have been played here including the Spanish Professional Doubles Championship, the Volvo Spanish Tour Championship, the Centennial Cup as well as Circuit Championships for professional, amateur and many other national and international competitions for the Spanish calendar.
Celebrating its 125th anniversary this weekend with a trophy competition followed by a glamourous gala dinner, the Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria continues to cater to an exclusive membership that includes some of the most glamourous, successful and influential people on the island, all of whom are proud of the club’s place in history, having introduced the sport to Spain and made Gran Canaria a golfing mecca for anyone serious about playing all year round. Where else in Europe could you play a round with princes and politicians under blue skies in December?
For More information:
Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas
Place Golf Course, 12
Santa Brigida 35300
Phone +34 928 35 10 50