/, Golf/Essential guide: Where to play golf in Greece

Essential guide: Where to play golf in Greece

Costa Navarino

Greece has been a staple of the golfing scene for decades; we round up the five must-play courses

Glyfada Golf Club of Athens
Greece’s first 18-hole course opened in 1966 in a seaside town on the Saronic Gulf, six miles south of the capital. Sometimes known as Athens Golf Club, it became the headquarters of the Hellenic Golf Federation and the host to international tournaments. The most prestigious was the 1979 World Cup of Golf, a match play event won by the USA over Scotland. Glyfada hasn’t equalled that level since, but it makes a good day out for addicts staying in Athens. Like so much in Greece, it’s wedged between the mountains and the sea with spectacular Aegean views. Tight doglegs test technique and temper, and umbrella pines shade the fairways. Green fees range from £40. athensgolfclub.com

Costa Navarino
Greek golf is sparse by comparison with its Mediterranean neighbours, but Costa Navarino has been its undisputed star since the first course, The Dunes, opened in 2010. Located on the western tip of the Peloponnese, 170 miles south of Athens, Westin Resort Costa Navarino is part of ambitious plans to develop the remote area for tourism. The coastline is beautiful and The Dunes, designed by Bernhard Langer, is worthy of its setting. It’s a double-header, links-style course with trademark dunes along the shore, plus olive and citrus groves through the hinterland. The Bay, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout, six miles to the south, followed in 2011. It’s a rugged affair, sculpted out of earth and rock, and characterised by extreme elevation changes. A third course, The Hills, is in planning stages but to date, the Greek economic crisis has kept it on the back burner. With kite surfing, diving, cycling, basketball and birding excursions, in addition to world class golf, luxurious Costa Navarino is unique in Greece. Green fees range from £92. costanavarinogolf.com

Corfu Golf Club
For the Brits, Corfu is a home from home. Famously, it has a cricket team and is also known for the Durrell brothers, Lawrence and Gerald, who were recently immortalised in an ITV television series The Durrells. Corfu also has a golf course, constructed in 1971 in the secluded Ropa Valley, seven miles west of Corfu town. Naturally the architect, Donald Harradine, was British and therefore able to provide the X factor that appeals to his compatriots. Eucalyptus and poplar trees line the fairways, streams straggle across them, and lakes prevent easy passages. The signature holes are the 7th, a long par 5 with eagle opportunities; the 10th, a risk reward par 4; and the 16th, the ultimate par 3 from hell — 200m with water features and a steep bank up to a raked green. Green fees range from £48. corfugolfclub.com

Where to play golf in Greece: The Crete Golf Club

The Crete Golf Club

The Crete Golf Club
In the early 21st century, the planners decreed 24 golf courses in the most popular tourist spots. To date, only Crete has delivered, largely thanks to local lawyer, Michael Vranas, who persuaded fellow hoteliers to invest in a €16 million project that would fill beds in the off season. The course was built to USPGA standards over craggy mountainous terrain at Hersonissos, 19 miles south east of Heraklion. When it opened in 2003, it rapidly established a strong following among northern European golfers, 65% of them German. Though relatively short with generously wide fairways, it presents interesting technical challenges and a memorable quartet of par 3s, including one with a carry over a deep ravine to a two-tiered green. Green fees range from £66. cretegolfclub.com

Porto Carras
The ambitious Porto Carras resort, 50 miles south of Thessaloniki on the north-east coast, included a 9-hole golf course when it was launched in the early 1970s. After two decades, it was renamed Olive Grove and given a total makeover for a relaunch as an 18-hole course in 2002. The key theme for the makeover was water — with three re-shaped lakes and the installation of a modern irrigation system. The water installations feature as hazards for four of the holes on the back nine. They also underpin plans for a second course, The Vineyard, which is currently under construction and aims to present Porto Carras as one of the world’s top destinations for golf. A third course is also on the drawing board. Green fees range from £70. portocarras.com

2018-02-22T16:21:13+00:00 February 22nd, 2018|