It’s all downhill from here

03 Jun 2014

The island of Gomera is one of the Canary Islands – a Spanish principality despite the fact that it is geographically closer to western Africa, situated 100 miles west of the border between Morocco and Western Sahara.

Gomera is a volcanic island, roughly circular in shape and just 22 miles across but it rises to as high as 5,000 feet in the centre. It is remarkable for the whistled language the locals use to communicate across the deep ravines that spread outwards from the centre of the island. This whistled speech is called Silbo Gomero and can be heard two miles away.

Before modern technology came along that might have been a good way for golfers to keep abreast of the happenings on the stunning Tecina Golf course that drops some 500 feet from first tee to 18th hole. Because of this dramatic drop, with a course that slaloms down the hillside, few courses can lay claim to having such consistently amazing views from the tees. Each one has a dramatic ocean view to take in. Holes 4, 10 and 12 are particular highlights; indeed the fourth hole presents the challenge of driving over one of those aforementioned ravines, which could lead to some industrial language of a slightly different sort than Silbo Gomero.

The course, which boasts a great variety of vegetation including an avocado grove, is owned by the Fred Olsen shipping company, something that makes complete sense when you work out that the main transport option to get to the island is by Fred Olsen ferry. Indeed you can jump on a fast 40-minute ferry from nearby Tenerife, play a round at Tecina and be back in time for Sangria and sundown. Alternatively there are plenty of reasons to stay a couple of nights on Gomera and golfers can buy packages.

The course is celebrating 11 years and the Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana that forms part of the European Challenge Tour will take place for the sixth time between June 5-8. The 2013 event was remarkable in that winner Brooks Koepka claimed victory by ten clear shots – a record wining margin in the ten-year history of the Challenge Tour.

In the run up to the US Open not much of the golfing world’s focus will be on this tiny island in the Atlantic as most interest will be on the form of golfers like McIlroy and Scott as they are monitored in the run up to the big one at Pinehurst. But while it might be the smaller names fighting out in the tournament, they’ll feel pretty big when facing up to this epic downhill journey.

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