Navarino Hills: The new star in Greece’s golfing sky

Travel insider from our Golf Post Team Jürgen Linnenbürger visits the Greek golf destination Navarino Hills. This course in Greece was the World’s Best New Golf Development in 2020. The World Golf Awards recognized it as so as part of a press trip.

Here in Messinia on the Peloponnese, he meets the two-time Masters winner, multiple Ryder Cup participant and captain José María Olazábal, who is responsible for the design of the two new Greek courses of the Navarino Hills.

The early bird catches the worm

Azalea, the English sports marketing agency organising the trip, gave me a slot of about 20 minutes to conduct an exclusive interview with Spanish golf legend José María Olazábal. Ollie, as his friends call him, will be exclusively available at 8.15 a.m. sharp for my questions about the design of his two new signature golf courses.

The Spaniard was awarded the Golf World Award Golf Course Designer of the Year in 2020. He had already designed more than 20 courses with his team. These include the Olazábal Course in Mission Hills/China, as well as the Education City Golf Club in Doha/Qatar, which opened in 2020. This last one, by the way, immediately became the venue for a PGA European Tour event.

An unusual place for an interview

We did not conduct the interview in the hotel, but on the back seat of a spacious hotel limousine: corona-compliant with a mask, of course. The car takes us from the 5-star The Westin Resort Costa Navarino to the brand new Navarino Hills complex.

Interview at the Navarino Hills with the two-time Masters winner. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

Their two golf courses are The Hills Course and the International Olympic Academy Golf Course, which our group is already allowed to play exclusively in November, before its official opening in February 2022.

The Hills Course will also be completed by that time. Then the golf cloverleaf will be perfect with four signature courses located a maximum of 13 km apart.

Kalimera and Buenos dias

The welcome is warm and relaxed. The likeable Spaniard explains that one of the main challenges for him and his team was to integrate two different courses into the terrain, which is up to 250 metres high, hilly and extremely rocky.
But not only the two new courses should be different from each other. Their design should also stand out from that of the existing, approximately ten-year-old courses, The Dunes and The Bay.

An exceptional property in impressive nature

José has been enthusiastic about the magnificent site from the very beginning. He is very proud that he and his team have been awarded the contract to design the two courses by the owner of the Greek company Temes, which is responsible for the development of the Costa Navarino destination.

The 150-hectare site is one of the most spectacular and beautiful he has had the privilege of redesigning. The breathtaking views of the bay, the Ionian Sea and the impressive mountain backdrop shape its character just as much as the vegetation typical of the Mediterranean area with its shrubs up to two metres high.

José has paid special attention to integrating the pitches harmoniously into the existing environment, so that they have become a natural part of it.

Sustainability is a priority

Another challenge for Olazabal Design was to take the various aspects of sustainability into account as much as possible. Costa Navarino has set itself the goal of being a leader in this field and ensuring ecological, social and economic sustainability on a permanent basis.

In this way, both campsites can benefit sufficiently from the water that the surrounding mountains release. This water is stored in two large basins and is sufficient for year-round irrigation of the pitches. The irrigation systems are state of the art. An own photovoltaic system supplies the huge area with all its facilities with the necessary electricity.

Suitable for all HCP classes

Both courses show as resort courses. They are fair and are intended to convey enjoyment of the game without their guests having to forego the sporting excitement. Golfers should enjoy their game on the courses and finish their rounds with a satisfactory score.

Six different tees contribute to the fact that players of all handicap classes will feel comfortable.

José designed the Hills Course to be shorter and less demanding than the International Olympic Academy Course. With its narrower fairways, this is the more compact and difficult course of the two. The wind, which often comes from the coast and can blow from different directions, also contributes to this.

The designer has responded to this situation by making the greens larger than usual in order to offer more opportunities to play.

The International Olympic Academy Course. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

The Navarino Hills will have wider fairways and more bunkers, but they are deliberately designed not to be very deep.

Wide fairways characterise The Navarino Hills Course. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

It is more spacious and yet intimate. On the holes, you get the impression that you are alone on the course. You cannot see other holes.

At the highest point of the course is the clubhouse, which is currently under construction, as well as the spacious practice facilities of the International Olympic Academy.

The International Olympic Academy

Costa Navarino, in partnership with the International Olympic Academy and the Hellenic Olympic Committee, has opened the first golf course of the International Olympic Academy.

The partnership is guided by principles and values of the Olympic Idea and aims to promote Olympic education through a variety of activities at Costa Navarino. It plays a key role in the development of golf worldwide.

The Olympic Academy Course calls

After the interview, José and I head out for a round. Two of the most remarkable holes for him are two par-3s. The tees of the 12th and the 16th are almost adjacent, but run in opposite directions. While the twelve is heading for the mountains, the tee shot of the sixteen is to be played along the sea.

For José, it is 166 metres on the 16 from the whites. Playing together with a two-time Masters winner in one flight is and will probably remain a unique experience for me. Of course, he is on the green, not like me.

José María Olazábal teeing off on the 16th (Photo: Linnenbürger)
Tee box of the twelfth fairway. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

The par-72 course has a length of 6,351 metres from the championship tees. The fairways are lush green and pleasantly soft at this time of year. On the other hand, the greens are all the harder and arrow-fast. Although they are not overly ondulated, 3-putts are not uncommon for me. The maintenance is excellent.

Spectacular new hotels

Since my last visit in 2018, not only have the Navarino Hills courses developed, but construction has also begun to grow around. The boutique hotel The Navarino Bay Resort is located on The Bay Course, right on the seafront.

A particularly good view of the new high-end gem with its 99 suites and villas show from the high greens of its third course. The spectacular design captivates by the fact that the buildings are set directly into the curved slope and their roofs are completely greened.

An exclusive beach club, a spa and wellness area with a large indoor and outdoor pool, as well as bars, lounges and restaurants complete the offer.

View from The Bay Course to the new The Bay Resort. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

Not far away, a little world of its own is developing. The vibrant lifestyle resort The Waterfront will have 246 rooms, suites and bungalows right on the beach. This one also impresses with its modern design with lagoon pools, numerous shops and restaurants laid out around an agora (marketplace).

The Waterfront will open in summer 2022 and The Bay a year later.

A clubhouse in a class of its own

Opening in 2019, The Bay Course’s stylish clubhouse is also new to me. It is built according to principles of bioclimatic architecture in earth house style and surrounded by thousands of plants and trees. It is not only an architectural masterpiece from the outside.

The clubhouse of The Bay Course. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

Inside, it also impresses with its modern interior and views of the sea.

The clubhouse is also extremely attractively designed on the inside. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

On its terrace we enjoy the fantastic sunset and conclude the great golf day with an excellent menu.

Sunset at Navarino Bay. (Photo: Linnenbürger)

The goal formulated by the founder to develop Costa Navarino into a world-leading golf and sports destination, as well as a family destination, seems to be paying off. Tennis courts have already been built. Football pitches are to be added in the future.

Arrival via Kalamata or Athens

If you decide to stay in the low season, the route leads via Athens. The hotel shuttle takes a good three hours from the airport to The Westin Resort Costa Navarino and the Romanos a Luxury Collection Resort, Costa Navarino in Navarino Dunes. These were awarded European Golf Resort of the Year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators in 2017.

Further awards are only a matter of time for me. I am convinced that after the opening of the new golf courses and hotels, numerous stars and awards will follow.

Europe Travel

Golf courses in Gran Canaria – where tourists fully get their money’s worth

Gran Canaria is not a privileged place, neither for “tourists on foot” nor for golfers. But although visitors to the Canary Islands flock to the beaches and bars, the third of the seven islets off the African coast guarantees a relaxing time. Gran Canaria seven golf courses have a lot to do with this great experience and are not to be missed, reason enough for an island getaway.

South Vs North environment

There are four golf courses in the south of the island, and three in the northeast. In the west of the island, which is sparsely populated and has so far seen little tourist traffic, golf courses are sought after in vain. In the south, Gran Canaria offers golf courses for party-goers (Playa del Inglés) as well as for visitors seeking tranquillity (Meloneras). Only a few kilometres of dunes separate both golf courses. These are mostly green oases in an arid landscape.

In the north, on the other hand, the land is much greener, which is due to the mountains in the middle of the island, which stop the rain when there is a constant wind from the north. At the same time, this makes the weather in the southern half more stable than in almost any other holiday destination, with pleasant temperatures.

Golf in the south of Gran Canaria

Lopesan Meloneras Golf

The 18-hole Lopesan Meloneras Golf course is not far from the tourist strongholds around Maspalomas. It offers peace and relaxation. While the first nine are inland and offer a view of the mountains in the centre of the island, the last nine take you directly along the sea for the most part.

The course condition is excellent, great to play in summer. Although the course is ready for the main season during the winter, the great care allows play at any time of the year. Large greens and wide fairways make the holiday round a pleasurable experience. Keeping your concentration on the second nine is the real difficulty due to the beautiful landscape and picturesque views.

From begining of October to end of April, Gran Canaria golf courses set their high season, and the 18-hole green fee costs 137 euros. In the low season (1 May – 30 September), the price drops to 80 euros. A cart costs 20 euros, but also has a GPS system on board that measures distances and explains the holes. The field is a leg-breaker due to the up and down hills all thoughout. Therefore, renting a cart is always a good choice.

Anfi Tauro Golf

Another highlight on Gran Canaria is Anfi Tauro Golf a little further west than Lopesan Meloneras Golf. Only opened in 2007, the par-72 course is the youngest on the island. It was designed by Hagge, Smelek and Baril, who were also responsible for the layout at Doral Country Club in Florida.

The maintenance in the hilly terrain matches the the spectacularity of the views of the sea. The holes have been integrated into the landscape. The green fee is between 80 (summer) and 120 euros (winter). However, you have to add the fees for a cart, because you don’t want to walk around this area – especially not on holiday.

Anfi Tauro Golf in Gran Canaria. (Photo:

Salobre Golf & Resort

Salobre Golf & Resort is home to two courses, the Old Course, which opened in 2000, and the New Course, added eight years later. The 36-hole course is the only one of its kind in Gran Canaria.

The Old Course is a par-71 that plays a little longer than the New Course as par-72, with a 400m difference. Like everywhere in the south of the island, the terrain is hilly and interspersed with ravines. This also makes Salobre Golf & Resort a holiday experience with lasting memories. The green fee ranges from 100 to 120 euros in winter, and in low season you have to shell out 56 to 67 euros.

The Salobre Golf&Resort at a glance. (Photo:

Maspalomas Golf

Maspalomas Golf is directly behind the aforementioned dune landscape that separates party people from those seeking relaxation. The surprisingly flat par-73 holes stretch over almost 6,400 metres. The layout is not particularly imaginative, the holes are wide and straight through the landscape, which is rather unspectacular here compared to other courses. For an 18-hole round, 109 to 118 euros are charged in the winter months, 65 euros in the low season.

Golf in the north of Gran Canaria

Real Club de Golf Las Palmas (Bandama Golf)

The Real Club de Golf Las Palmas is the oldest golf club in Spain and was founded in 1891. Unfortunately, you can feel this here and there in the rooms of the clubhouse, which are in need of an overhaul. The course is in a fantastic location – on a high plateau in front of Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria. At the same time, the location explains the lenght of the short par-71 course, less than 6,000 metres from the back tees. Guests are welcome from Monday to Friday, on weekends the course is reserved for members.

Real Club de Golf on Gran Canaria seen from Pico de Bandama. (Photo: Golf Post)

Las Palmeras Golf Club

The northernmost club on Gran Canaria is Las Palmeras Golf Club. Opened in 2006, the par-3 course is very short, with only two holes longer than 100 metres, but the course is definitely a challenge. Sloping fairways, deep bunkers and some water hazards make missed greens a real challenge. The fun, which is definitely conducive to iron play, costs 25 euros green fee per person, guaranteeing the sea view in some spots.

Las Palmeras Golf, the par-3 course in the north of Gran Canaria. (Photo:

The Golf Post recommendation

Basically, you can’t go wrong with the courses in the south. The favourites here are Lopesan Meloneras Golf, Anfi Tauro Golf and Salobre Golf & Resort. Although you have to dig deep into your pockets during the high season, many hotels offer packages with discounts on green fees. The courses in the north are a bit outdated, but they also offer what makes golf in Gran Canaria a highlight. That is of course picturesque panoramas and impressive nature.

Attractions and excursions on Gran Canaria
Along the coast

In addition to golfing, Gran Canaria offers many other activities. In the summer you can even witness dolphin species a few kilometres off the coast. During winter, the whales take over and also pass by the island. These can be observed excellently from large and small excursion boats.

The wild interior

The interior of the island is also a must. Whether on foot on hikes or in a rented convertible on lonely mountain roads, many picturesque mountain villages can be discovered in the mountains in the middle of Gran Canaria. The highest point on the island, the Pico da las Nieves, also offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole island.

The south coast

Along the south coast, there are numerous villages directly by the sea. Despite numerous bed castles in the foothills of the mountain ranges, they have for the most part retained their own identity.

You can explore all or several of them along the coastal road GC-500. There, you can still find family-owned orchards with sun-drenched mangoes and other delicacies.

A must-see, of course, is the island’s capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Whether in the old town with its grand cathedral, on the beach or in the newer quarters. Here you will find something for everyone, from the art museum to the street food festival.

There is still one “insider tip”

The caves of Barranco de Guayadeque. In spectacular mountain scenery, you will find numerous caves here that were actually inhabited in the past. Today, some of them have been converted into restaurants and offer excellent food for little money away from the tourist crowds.

The Guayadeque Museum also provides information about the original way of life of the valley inhabitants. At the end of the valley, a fantastic view to the south awaits you.

European Tour Knowledge

R&A Report Shows Golf Participation In Sweden Has Increased To 600K

New official reports highlight great golf participation growth across Europe. According to the EGA (European Golf Association) reports, there are currently 10.6 Million golfers playing the sport among The R&A’s European Affiliates and in the EGA members’ markets, a healthy increase from the 7.9 million last monitored for 2016.

Since the pandemic, the sport fans had to get used to follow their favorite sports through the screen. Teams and organizers suffered the hard consequences economically speaking because of the decreasing number of affiliates. However, golf has come out stronger, and the reason is simple – The players are outside, it is easy to keep the social distance at all times, and it reconnects you with the world after a global lockdown.

Golf Participation Growth in Sweden

Markets with a greater proportion of registered golfers include Spain and Sweden (10% independent / 90% registered). “We believe that counting independent golfers together with those who are registered as club members gives a more accurate view of the total number of golfers playing on a full-length course each year and reflects how the sport is being consumed from country to country.” – Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A.

Since 2019, Swedish golf participation increased by 54.6k golfers. Reports situate Sweden 3rd in the leaderboard of countries with the highest number of new registered golfers. Nowadays, there are 600,000 golfers in Sweden and 650 courses. Due to the rapid increment of new participants, the course demand has also grown. This is a gap to cover that could potentially pump up the National federations and Organizations to continue to expand the interest in golf among the Swedish population.

Women’s and Junior Participation – The biggest increment

Regarding women’s golf, there’s also a clear increase in Europe. Only in Sweden, the female participation increased by 27%, which translates into 129,949 new golfers. The sport of golf almost benefit from the global Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, there’s no denying that this is an unique opportunity to mediatise women’s golf and make more visible the quality among women golfers.

The Swedish are well-known for inculcating sports education in children from an early age. There’s also a reflection of that on the new reports by the R&A. Sweden leads the top of the list of European countries that has increased the number of junior participation. The junior enrolment has risen by 11%, or in other words, 61,839 new kids practice now the sport of golf. Junior participation is specially important because it represents the quarry of the future national teams.

Europe Travel

Las Colinas receieves two prestigious accolades at the 2021 World Golf Awards

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club continues to make a name for itself as one of the continent’s most sought-after golf destinations after being voted as ‘Spain’s Best Golf Course’ and ‘World’s Leading Golf & Villa Resort’ at the 2021 World Golf Awards.

Building on the recent success for Las Colinas at the World Travel Awards, this marks Las Colinas Golf & Country Club’s fifth successive year being nominated for the honour of ‘Spain’s Best Golf Course’ and their second win as ‘World’s Leading Golf & Villas Resort’.

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club’s latest successes at the World Golf Awards highlights their goal to offer the best service and amenities, so every guest can enjoy a unique golfing experience.

View from hole 18th at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, Alicante, Spain.

Las Colinas blows the candles wishing for more years of development.

As the Resort is celebrating its 10th anniversary, in 2021, Las Colinas has unveiled multiple new and improved five-star facilities this year, including an enhanced golf course, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Javier Rodriguez, head of operations, said: “We are very proud to receive this recognition once again, coinciding with the celebration of our 10th anniversary. It is truly an honour to receive this award, a symbol of the effort and hard work of each member of the Las Colinas team.

The World Golf Awards serves to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism, world-class courses and golf destinations. Votes are made by professionals working within the golf travel and tourism industry and golf tourism consumers.

Chris Frost, vice president of the World Golf Awards, said: “Las Colinas Golf & Country Club has done an exceptional job of renovating their championship golf course this year and we feel it has really enhanced the golfers experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Las Colinas, to see the steps they have taken to improve their golf course and overall sustainability.

Overview of Las Colinas Golf & Country Club, Alicante, Spain
Las Colinas Golf & Country Club Resort, Alicante, Spain

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is regarded as one of Europe’s premier golf and real estate resorts where private homes and the 18-hole championship golf course blend harmoniously into natural surroundings, between rolling hills and the glittering Mediterranean Sea.

Designed by acclaimed American architect Cabell B. Robinson, Las Colinas’ 18-hole championship golf course offers wide fairways and extensive undulating greens, with the numerous tees at each hole giving the course great versatility.

Enjoying more than 300 days’ sunshine a year, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is surrounded by a natural park of up to 10,000 hectares, only six kilometres from the coast. Along with these two awards as Spain’s Best Golf Course and World’s Leading Golf & Villas Resort, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club was crowned ‘Spain’s Leading Villa Resort’ and ‘Europe’s Leading Resort Villas’ at the 2021 World Travel Awards.

Press Release on behalf of Las Colinas Golf & Country Club by Azalea

Europe Panorama Travel

Dundonald Links: Luxury Lodges complete latest phase of £25M investment in the cradle of golf, Scotland.

Dundonald Links has entered an exciting new era with the opening of 18 luxury lodges, the latest phase of a £25m investment transforming the esteemed Scottish venue into one of the UK’s most modern new golf resorts.

Investing in the full golfing experience, Dundonald Links is becoming the dreamt golf destination.

The collection of two, four and six-bedroom lodges opened to widespread acclaim in August and have been custom-designed with golfers in mind, with bag storage and drying areas, en-suite bathrooms, large living spaces and fully equipped kitchen and dining facilities.

Darwin Escapes has already invested £1m in upgrading Dundonald Links’ Kyle Phillips-designed 18-hole championship course, including the addition of a new halfway house, and more is set to follow this autumn with the imminent opening of a new clubhouse and 22 hotel rooms.

Ian Ferguson, club manager, said: “The opening of the new lodges is the start of an exciting new chapter for Dundonald Links, and we’re thrilled with the initial feedback that we have received from guests.

Dundonald Links meets every need for the golfers and their loved ones.

“It’s been wonderful to see all the investment plans come to fruition over the last year and even more is to come in the next few months. With the opening of the new clubhouse and hotel rooms, not only will the resort boast some of the finest golf accommodation facilities in the UK, but it will also become the perfect base for golfers and their families to experience everything that this famous part of Scotland has to offer.”

Golf influencer Peter Finch, who has more than 400,000 followers on YouTube and who recently stayed in the lodges, said: “The biggest compliment I could pay is that I would love to live there!”

Boasting a striking contemporary design, the new two-storey clubhouse will feature large balconies overlooking the course and panoramic views to the Isle of Arran. Facilities within the clubhouse will include a pro shop, restaurant, bar, whisky tasting room and outdoor dining terrace, as well as a gym, sauna, steam room and extensive changing facilities.

Set amongst the picturesque Ayrshire countryside, the clubhouse has been created from natural materials and finished with local whinstone and a grass roof. This not only helps it to blend seamlessly with the rugged landscape and surroundings but also reinforces Dundonald’s long-term commitment to sustainability, conservation and nature.

In addition, the resort is also set to cut the ribbon in the coming months on a range of new hotel rooms, which are situated beside the clubhouse for ease of access to the restaurant and club facilities.

Already a well-respected test for bucket-list golfers from across the world, Dundonald Links has hosted many major professional golf events since 2008 – including the Ladies’ Scottish Open in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in 2017.

The resort is one of three golf venues operated by Darwin Escapes, in addition to The Springs Resort & Golf Club in Oxfordshire and Kilnwick Percy in East Yorkshire. For more details and to book a golf break at Dundonald Links, please visit


Press Release by Azalea in behalf of Dundonald Links

Highlights Tours Live

Padraig Harrington, the Captain at the helm of the European Team for the Ryder Cup 2021

Padraig Harrington is a professional Irish golfer who plays in the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Harrington has a long golf career, carrying three major championship victories on his back, his playing record speaks for itself. Harrington collects a total of 15 European Tour victories. The Irish golfer showed manners since the begining, raising his first trophy little more than six months after turning professional, in 1996 at the Peugeot Spanish Open with a six shot lead.

According to the European Tour official reports, Harrington became the first European to win back-to-back Major Championships by adding the 2008 US PGA Championship to the 2008 Open Championship crown he won a month earlier, having successfully defended the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale, and climbing up to T3 in the OWGR. He had also previously won the 2007 Open Championship in Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland, finsihing with a total of 7-under par and ranked T6 in the OWGR.

European Captain Padraig Harrington is in a mission for the Ryder Cup 2021.
In 1999, Harrington accomplished his ultimate goal as a player when he qualified for the European Ryder Cup at the “Battle of Brookline.” The Irish golfer participated in other five occasions (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010).
This year, in 2021, Padraig Harrington is tasting the was selected to develop one of the hardest tasks within the golf world, and that is to put the Captain hat on and to lead the entire European Team to glory during the 2021 Ryder Cup.
His responsibilities started to be on the spotlight when it was time for him to announce the Captain’s picks for this year.

Harrington felt the preassure throughout the process of picking his players, which he narrowed down to three after the first announcement. Finally he published the twelve players and that handful of doubts disappear and all the focus moved into a clear goal and the purpose behind the Europe Team and the Ryder Cup. It is time to get familiar with the course and plan on the best way to execute the strategy that will make Europe touch the sky once again.

The power of the Europe team bound behind the Ryder Cup.
Sergio Garcia, the Spanish golfer who is also one of the last three Captain’s pick, shared a long part of his golf career period with his now Captain Padraig Harrington. However, they are not friendship goals by all means, the competitiveness and strong personalities marked the difference and did not play in the favor of them getting along. On the positive side, they both appreciate each other’s game and work regardless, and Captain Harrington is convinced that the Ryder Cup is bigger than that and the team bound will improve their relationship.

The power of the Europe team bound behind the Ryder Cup.
Sergio Garcia, the Spanish golfer who is also one of the last three Captain’s pick, shared a long part of his golf career period with his now Captain Padraig Harrington. However, they are not friendship goals by all means, the competitiveness and strong personalities marked the difference and did not play in the favor of them getting along. On the positive side, they both appreciate each other’s game and work regardless, and Captain Harrington is convinced that the Ryder Cup is bigger than that and the team bound will improve their relationship.

It was a tough decision” as he explained in several interviews but he followed his professional criteria and closed a solid team ready to take all chances to bring the trophy home. Harrington believes that it a very strong balanced team where every individual player has the right and the will to play every single match, although that is not possible.

Check out the list of the players committed to the European Team

Europe Travel

The World’s First International Olympic Academy Course with José María Olazábal

A Ryder Cup legend and captain of the victorious European team that won in such memorable fashion at Medinah in 2012, José María Olazábal has written his name into Ryder Cup folklore with his achievements over the last four decades.

Now a successful golf-course designer, the two-time Masters champion will unveil the first of two new 18-hole courses that he has created at Navarino Hills in Costa Navarino, Greece, this November with the launch of the world’s first International Olympic Academy Course.


Here we have an exclusive interview with Olazábal discussing the Navarino Hills project and where his inspiration came from.

Q: When and how did your involvement in the Navarino Hills project come about?
José: I first came to Costa Navarino around six years ago when they were looking for a designer for the two new courses planned at Navarino Hills. My team and I all absolutely love the region here and we put in our very best effort to win the design job. Obviously, we were very happy when Achilles Constantakopoulos (chairman of Temes, the developers of Costa Navarino) chose us and we are working hard to repay his trust. 

Q: What were your impressions when you first saw the site?
José: Simply WOW. The property is spectacular, the views are breathtaking and the characteristics of the site are wonderful for golf. It surely ranks among the most beautiful properties we ever got the chance to work on. 

Q: What makes the landscape at Navarino Hills and Costa Navarino’s approach to developing golf courses so special?
José: The views are absolutely stunning, not just across the historic Bay of Navarino but also towards the mountains in the background. This sets the tone for the whole site and gives it a very strong character amidst the garrigue vegetation which is typical for the Mediterranean. Costa Navarino has found an absolute jewel with this property and they are trying to develop it sensibly with great focus on protecting the environment. I am delighted with their approach and we are trying to use all the latest modern techniques to contribute our share to the sustainability goals.

Q: Where did your inspiration for each course come from and have you tried to include any elements of your favourite courses in the world?
José: Well, I am privileged and have got to play many of the great golf courses around the world. Courses like Augusta, the Old Course, Valderrama, Loch Lomond and many others certainly leave an impression on you and influence you. I am a fan of the classics and am probably more of a traditionalist but, for the new designs we have undertaken, it is the land itself that gives you the inspiration. What is important is how the property sits in its surroundings, what features stands out and how we can model the golf course harmoniously into the terrain so that it feels like a natural fit.


Q: What are the key characteristics of each course and what are the different challenges that golfers will face?
José: The International Olympic Academy Course has stunning views over Navarino Bay and is the longer and tougher of the two courses. It’s more compact and, in style, a bit posher than the Navarino Hills course. Navarino Hills has a more rural feel and takes you into the outback where you can enjoy a stroll in beautiful nature.

Q: Can you pick out a couple of holes on each course that you especially like and tell us a bit about them?
José: I think they all have their own little personality but, of course, a few will be talked about more than others. On the International Olympic Academy Course, the 12 th and 16 th holes are two beautiful but challenging par threes with great views over the bay where I am sure most golfers will stop to take a photo. Holes 10 and 15 will also get some attention. On the Navarino Hills course, I would say the sixth hole, a downhill par-five, stands out as well as the stretch from the 14th to the 17th.

Q: When the Navarino Hills project is completed, what will it do to elevate Costa Navarino’s status on the world stage as a golf destination?
José: Costa Navarino is already well known around the world but what the two new courses will do is to lift Costa Navarino from the status of a golf resort to being a full golf destination. With four golf courses, Costa Navarino will appeal to the global golf-travel market and I’m
sure will be successful in attracting many new guests.

Q: Why do you think Costa Navarino stands out as a golf destination?
José: We are spoiled as golfers because there are so many great places to go, but I have said it before and will be happy to repeat it: Costa Navarino is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. It is more than just the golf offering there, it is the whole experience that is exceptional – from the nature, the culture and the people with their amazing hospitality to the food, the beach and so many activities to choose from. Don’t be surprised if you see me at Costa Navarino from time to time in the future.

Q: How important is the issue of sustainability to you when building a golf course?
José: It is a must. There is no alternative and, luckily, the topic has arrived in society as one of the most pressing issues of our time and for generations to come. Golf is only a small piece of this, but we must contribute our share and do everything to be as conscious about
environmental, social and economic sustainability as we can. Costa Navarino is certainly a leader in this and I am proud to be a part of it.

Q: In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good golf course and the characteristics that make you want to play it again and again?
José: It does not matter whether the course is extra tough or easy or long or short, what is important is that golfers have a great time. For that to happen, I think the course has to be fair and also has to fit seamlessly into the surroundings so that it creates this special

Interview transcript provided by The Azalea Group

European Tour Top Tours

Omega European Masters: Morrison hits new heights in Crans Montana

Round One Report

James Morrison climbed to the summit of the Omega European Masters leaderboard with an impressive ten under par round of 60, setting both a new course record and his lowest round on the European Tour.

The Englishman took full advantage of the glorious morning conditions at Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre to open up a three shot lead after round one, and admitted he had the second 59 on Tour in his sights, following his countryman Oliver Fisher’s record round at the 2018 Portugal Masters.

The solidarity bogey
All eyes were on the two-time European Tour winner as he got to seven under par through 15 holes on the par 70 Severiano Ballesteros Course. He duly recorded back to back birdies on the seventh and eighth – his 16th and 17th – but left himself too much to do with an eagle chip on the last, and settled for his ninth birdie of the day, alongside an eagle and a solitary bogey.

Fellow Englishman Marcus Armitage and Robin Sciot-Siegrist of France recorded seven under par rounds of 63, with Armitage finding inspiration for his bogey-free effort upon his return to the site of his engagement four years ago. It was also a memorable day for Sciot-Siegrist, who recorded his best round of the season, with a bogey on the first the only blemish on his card.

His countryman Andy Sullivan and Dean Burmester of South Africa are one shot further back on six under par, with Belgian pair Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Detry, Frenchman Julien Guerrier, Renato Paratore and amateur Pietro Bovari of Italy and American Paul Peterson on five under par.

Player Quotes

James Morrison: “We were the first group out at 7.40am and the greens were absolutely perfect this morning, with no wind. You know you’ve got to take advantage, but doing it is another thing. Holed a couple of good putts, chipped in at 11, and it just snowballed from there. Bogied the 18th, my ninth, to be four under par through nine, but it was just a good, solid start. Hit the right shots when I had to and made a few putts.

“It was funny, after I bogied 18 I went to the first – which is probably the hardest hole on the course – and made birdie there, my caddie said “Come on, I think we can shoot 59 here”. I had eight holes to go and you use that as more of a mental push to keep going forward.

“Had a really good look on the last (the chip for eagle) and thought, just try to make this. The minute your focus goes like that, you chip it stiff, make birdie and shoot ten under par. I was trying to hole that shot on the last, but next time maybe.”

Robin Sciot-Siegrist: “I’m feeling good right now. I’ve been working a lot on my game, mostly my putting, and I’ve been putting well the last few weeks. I’ve had a couple of good rounds the last few weeks so that gives me confidence and I’m playing better at the moment.

“It’s a very tricky course, things can go sideways a bit. You just need to get what you can. I had a good stretch on the front nine and on the back nine I just stuck to my strategy. If things go well, you take it. I don’t know if the course fits my game but you really need to be strategic and I like courses like that. You still need to play well. I just like the set up and it’s beautiful out there.”

Marcus Armitage: “I enjoy the feeling of being here again. I’ve only been here once before and that was when I got engaged four years ago. Unfortunately, Lucy isn’t with me, but just great feelings here, and a couple of weeks off (before this week) have paid dividends.

“Sometimes you can look at a score like that (Morrison’s 60) and try to put the foot down. Then if you don’t start off well you can get frustrated with your own game. This is very much a patience golf course, so even if you see someone like James with ten under – which is an amazing score – you’ve just got to be patient, take your time and construct a round.

“I’m patient in a lot of things. Golf is a massive part of my life, I just love golf so much I can get a little bit frustrated with it, but with a few weeks off it’s calmed me down a bit and I can just enjoy it and be patient. Just excited for the next few weeks and the rest of this week.”

Round One Scores


European Tour Top Tours

European Tour: Willett amongst Major winners is ready to battle 1500 metres above sea level in the Swiss Alps.

Tournament: Omega European Masters
Race to Dubai: Tournament 30 of 39 events
Venue: Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre, Crans Montana, Switzerland

Tournament Preview

Danny Willett is hoping to recreate his special 2015 victory when he tees it up in “one of the best stops on Tour” at the Omega European Masters.

The Englishman secured the third of his seven European Tour victories at the picturesque Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre seven years ago, and his subsequent victories include the 2016 Masters Tournament. After an up and down year, he is hoping that his knowledge of the course that sits 1500 metres above sea level in the Swiss Alps – and where he has recorded two further top five finishes – will pay dividends.

The 33 year old is joined in the field by defending champion Sebastian Soderberg and fellow Major winners Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson, who are making welcome returns to the event after eight and nine years respectively.

Soderberg sealed an impressive play-off victory in Crans Montana in 2019 – prevailing over Rory McIlroy, Andres Romero, Lorenzo Gagli and Kalle Samooja in a play-off to claim his first European Tour title – and is aiming to build on his first top 20 finish of the season in last week’s D+D Real Czech Masters.

His fellow Swede and 2016 Open Champion Stenson is also looking to carry over his form from last week, with an impressive putting performance leading to a tied fourth finish and his best result on the European Tour this season. While the man who lifted the Claret Jug two years later is focusing on staying pain free after an injury-plagued season, Molinari hopes that a long-awaited return to the venue where his finished in second place back in 2006 will help to kick start a good run leading into the end of the season.

Player quotes

Danny Willett: “We always say the place makes a week for us, and this is one of the best stops on the European Tour, if not any Tour, up here in Crans. We’ve had some pretty nice results around here. That week (his win in 2015) was very special. My mum and dad were there, the first time they had seen me win for a while. It’s just nice to come back to a place with great memories.

“You’ve got to control distance here. Notoriously small greens, tricky to putt, tricky to chip around. The guys who do well around here control the ball flight well, control the numbers into these small greens at altitude to give themselves birdie putts. It’s a real precise second shot golf course. There are a lot of chances out there so you just need to stay patient.”

Sebastian Soderberg: “It’s wonderful to be back, this course is special. Playing at this altitude with all of the upslopes and downhills, it’s a different experience and it’s definitely nice to be back.
“I finally feel like I’ve finally played some good golf (this season). I don’t think it was great for me to be leading last week in Czech Republic heading into this event. I haven’t played the weekend since May, so I had to deal with a few more emotions than I have in a while. I was a little rusty there I would say, but as much as you can put yourself in that position and gain from the experience the better. I’m definitely happy feeling those things coming into this week.”

Henrik Stenson: “It’s one of the iconic stops on the European Tour, it’s a beautiful week. Once you have made the climb to get up here it’s super easy – you can walk to golf course, restaurant, hotel, it’s got a great atmosphere. It’s bringing back some great memories from the early days on Tour as well.

“Last week in Czech Republic, putting was probably as good as it’s ever been over four days. I kept it super tidy on the greens and that’s where I made up a lot of ground. Kept it tight in terms of bogies as well. Other than a plugged ball on a fairway trap in the third round, I was more or less bogey free for three days. That’s a statement to how well we managed to play around the golf course on short game and putting.”

Francesco Molinari: “It’s very nice to be back here in Crans – it’s been a while. It’s a spectacular place, challenging and nice course, and a fun event to stay in town and walk around. First and foremost I want to be healthy and playing pain free, be more consistent without having to stop every other week. It would be nice to progress through the weeks and have a strong end of the season so next year can be different from this one.

“It’s a ball striking course, quite tight off the tee. If you go off line with the trees it is hard to score well. With the altitude, distance control is quite important. That’s something that I did well in the past and I need to do well again this week.”

Press Release by the European Tour Communications


Golf and Corona in Europe

A look at the current situation regarding Covid-regulations throughout Europe.

The numbers of Covid infections in Europe have been rising drastically for weeks now, which has led to new rules and guidelines. It is not easy to keep track of in which country golf can still be played. Here is a little overview over the respective regulations that currently apply in several European countries. 

In Germany there are currently contact restrictions which only allow golf flights with an maximum amount of 2 people. However, this means that the golf courses will remain open. Decisions are ultimately taken by the regional authorities, which means that stricter regulations can still come in German states with high infection numbers.

In Spain, there is a nationwide nighttime curfew and almost all of Spain’s regions have imposed regional border closures to prevent long-distance travel. Within Spain, however, it is still permitted to travel. Concerning golf, the central government has empowered the individual regions to take further decisions. So it depends on where exactly you are in Spain and what the local authorities decide.

In England there will be a country-wide lockdown coming into effect on Thursday, the 5th of November, which will last until December the 2nd. The Government has confirmed that golf courses and driving ranges will be among the businesses and venues ordered to close when the country begins a month-long shutdown. Ireland and Wales are in a two-week lockdown since the 23rd of October. Golf is also affected by this, as the courses are currently all closed. In Scotland the golf courses are not affected and golf can still be played.

Despite stricter regulations in some regions of Sweden, golf courses may remain open and golf can be played when keeping distance.

While all indoor activities must be stopped in Austria with the new lockdown in November, the golf courses will remain open. 

In France, the situation has been declared by the French Golf Association, who published a notice giving details of new restrictions. These have a direct impact on the golf sector and will result in a temporary closure of French golf clubs throughout the country from Thursday, the 29 of October to the first of December.

In the Netherlands, golf can still be played in accordance with the distance rules. Under certain conditions even tournaments are allowed

The respective guidelines are constantly changing and are appointed according to the current situation of infections. What is currently valid may already be out of date by tomorrow. If you are unsure whether you can currently play in your region, you should check with your golf club in advance.