Francisco de Béthencourt, manager of Anfi Tauro Golf on the island of Gran Canaria, began his journey in the golf industry in 2005 with Global Golf Company. First in Madrid while he completed a masters degree in sports facilities and golf course management at the European University of Madrid, and later in Morocco with responsible for business expansion and as manager of Bensliman Golf Club on the outskirts Casablanca. Later he was commercial director at Tecina Golf on La Gomera and then took over as manager at Salinas de Antigua Golf Club, on Fuerteventura island. In 2009 he signed on as head of Anfi Tauro Golf.
What can you tell us about the Canary Islands as a golf destination?
The Canaries are not a single golf destination: they are more like four golf destinations in one, since golfers do not usually move between the islands to play. When a tourist chooses an island, they stay there during their entire stay. On the one hand we have Lanzarote, with only two golf courses, which makes this island a less attractive golf destination, since golfers usually want to play at three or four different courses during their holidays. Then Fuerteventura with four courses, and Tenerife and La Gomera with nine courses on the former island and one on the latter. Golfers who travel to Tenerife, thanks to its proximity, usually take a boat to play at the La Gomera course. And finally we have Gran Canaria with seven courses. Of all the islands, the two most consolidated destinations are Gran Canaria and Tenerife, with some 400,000 green fees per year.
Why do you believe that Gran Canaria has become such a popular golf destination in Europe?
First of all, because the climate we have is privileged, with spring temperatures throughout the year. There is a false belief that in the Canary Islands it is very hot in summer, and nothing is further from reality: our temperatures are never extreme and this is one of the great virtues of the destination. In addition to the wonderful temperatures, there are a number of factors that make the destination extremely popular: the quality of the courses and of the hotels, the gastronomy, the flight connections... and all this, together with the more than 100 years that we have been welcoming tourists to the islands, comprises a successful formula.
Do you consider the quality of the Canaries courses to be at the same level as such a major tourist destination as the “Fortunate Isles?
I think that, as for any destination, there are excellent courses and not so excellent courses. Definitely we have courses of a high level, not only in the design aspect but also in maintenance, service and gastronomy. After that it is the golfer who must decide which is best suited to their game, which feels more comfortable, and therefore which is the one where they want to play more.
What are the most pivotal and the weakest golf seasons in the Canary Islands, and which nationalities predominate among golfers?
Our high season is from October to May and the nationalities that visit us are mostly Germans, British and Scandinavians. We also get players from the rest of Europe, but in smaller numbers. During the season we have a lot of local, mainland, Italian and French golfers.
Anfi Tauro Golf is one of the best courses in the Isles. What are its main characteristics, and what would you especially highlight about the course?
To begin with, Anfi Tauro features a great design by Robert von Hagge. For those who do not know, he is the designer of Golf National de Paris where the Ryder Cup will be played this year. When you have a renowned designer, in most cases you are guaranteed a well-designed and balanced course, apart from a good engineering project, and therefore you start with a solid foundation. From there, it is necessary to maintain the course at a high agronomic level, to offer excellent services, with the gastronomy focused on golfers, and to create the best possible golf experience for clients - and that happens at Anfi Tauro Golf from the moment they arrive until they leave.
How do you see the future of golf as a sport?
I think golf has faced a lot of competitors in recent years. There are more and more entertaining sports and less time to dedicate to them. in addition, people are staying younger longer and want to continue playing sports that keep them fit, as long as the body allows it, so the federations and golf clubs, especially social members-based clubs, should focus on speeding up the game and making it more flexible. Also, encouraging players, not only among the grass roots but of all ages, and in some way attract women to golf. I believe that the future of social members-based golf in Spain should involve girls much more.