You know how there is little more boring than hearing about somebody else’s round of golf? Well let me tell you about the tee shot I hit on the par-three 7th hole on the Bay Course at Costa Navarino. It measured 152 yards and I took a 6-iron. The shot was sort of rubbish, hit left of where I wanted it to be, but once the ball landed it followed the contours of the fairway and then the green and rolled up to within a foot of the hole. As near-aces go, this was pretty much as close as it gets. And, yes, I did make the putt!
Costa Navarino is located beside the Mediterranean Sea, about a 30-minute drive from Kalamata Airport in the Peloponnese region of southern mainland Greece. The Battle of Navarino in 1827 was the last naval battle to be fought entirely by sailing ships. In commemoration of the Greek victory over the Turks on that occasion, the club’s house wines – red, white and rosé – are branded ‘1827’.
There are presently 36 holes at the resort, which apparently has the longest-season of any in Greece. It closes between November and early February, although the plan is for it to become an all-year operation.
That thinking is behind the next development there: the opening of two José Maria Olazábal-designed courses in 2021. “With golf courses there is the following issue,” the chairman of the company, the magnificently named Achilles Constantakopoulos (how Greek is that?), explained to the New York Times. “One equals almost none.” By which he means that the International Association of Golf Tour Operators has found that only 15% of keen golfers would go somewhere which had only one course, a number which rises to 75% with three and 100% with five. Soon he will have four.
As you can see from the photos here, the two existing courses, the Bay and the Dunes, look rather spectacular. Bill Murray, the Hollywood actor whose work includes Caddyshack, perhaps the best golf movie ever, has described this as “the best resort I’ve ever been to”. (Name-drop alert: he was there when I was.)
The Bay was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, the Dunes by Bernhard Langer. The Bay is much the shorter of the two, and while the sea is seldom in play – albeit it is on the 7th! – it is regularly in view. That’s less the case on the Dunes, but both layouts combine elegant architectural flourishes with significant changes in elevation.
The 8th on the Bay is an uphill par-five where Stannah might be minded to pitch for a contract; the 9th is quite vertiginously downhill. All considered, you might prefer to use a golf cart. The resort also has a spa while tennis and football facilities are in the works.
By the way, once the new ‘earth-sheltered’ clubhouse is in place on the Bay Course, the 7th will become the 2nd. I’m glad that wasn’t the case when I played; with or without lucky bounces, no way would my swing be up to almost making a hole-in-one on the second hole of the day. And maybe not my putter to sinking that tiddler!
You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog f-factors.com plus you can read more by him on golf at robertgreengolf.com