I visited Gran Canaria and its seven golf courses this week, choosing this island in particular because of its many microclimates and consequently the chance to study a variety of grasses in different environmental conditions.
I also have friends (*see below) on this island, which made it an even more appealing place to visit. The north side of the island sees more clouds, and the south side of the island has more sunshine, and in general, it is a rather dry island. At the airport, near Telde in the East, the average annual rainfall is 134 mm. Contrast this with Bangkok, where grasses, many of them the same as at Gran Canaria, grow in a climate with almost 1,500 mm average annual rainfall. In fact, at Bangkok, there are six months of the year, each of the months from May through October, that have average rainfall more than the 134 mm annual average at Telde.
That lack of rainfall makes irrigation crucial to the performance of any turfgrass as a sporting surface at Gran Canaria, and because almost all of the courses are irrigated with treated wastewater, which is rather high in salinity, careful attention to water quality is just as important as water quantity, as is choosing the grass species that can tolerate such salinity.
At the seven golf clubs on the island, there are nine courses. Salobre is 36 holes, and Anfi Tauro has a short course. The grass breakdown is this. On greens, four courses are creeping bentgrass, four are seashore paspalum, and one is bermuda. Through the green, one course is kikuyugrass, four are bermuda, and four are seashore paspalum.
There is some Poa annua growing, mixed in with bentgrass on some greens, and as a weed in some fairways. I also saw some perennial ryegrass, although it was not thriving. And there was Stenotaphrum secundatum (St. Augustingrass in the USA, buffalograss in Australia) growing well in a few parks, but I did not see it on any golf courses.
At Real Club de Golf de Las Palmas, some unirrigated picon areas between tees and fairways have drought-tolerant bermudagrass growing in these dry conditions. The tees and fairways, which receive irrigation, are covered with kikuyugrass. A collection of photos are posted at Flickr (and below) where you can see the grasses and the golf courses of this diverse island.
*Alejandro Rodriguez Nagy, who arranged the schedule this week and introduced me to the greenkeepers at each course; Daniel Carretero, who played on the golf team at the University of Portland (my hometown) and worked at Augusta National GC where I met him during the 2011 Masters Tournament; and Oscar Sanchez, who I caddied for at Waverley CC when he played in the 1993 USGA Junior Amateur Championship.