Cyprus is an ancient, mountainous island offering history, culture, cuisine, and as Rob Smith discovers, some surprisingly good golf
Golf in Cyprus
Cyprus has a chequered history with conflict a key feature, somewhat ironically as it is by legend the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. I began my stay at the excellent, fully revamped, five-star family Almyra Hotel resort right next to the beach in Paphos.
Eléa Golf Club is a par-71 Nick Faldo desert-style design which is just six years old and features his trademark expansive and very visual bunkering. Running over an elevated hillside setting with some beautiful vistas out to sea, it is presented in tip-top condition.
I particularly liked the par-5 2nd where you have to cross a dry stream, and the stroke index one 17th, a brute of a par 4 with a long approach at an angle over a rocky wasteland.
The classy and spacious clubhouse at Eléa has views down over the course and is a terrific place to unwind, either in the restaurant or on the terrace, with food that combines local ingredients with an international flair.
The appropriately-named Secret Valley was another very pleasant surprise; a charming course running through an east-west river gorge where the wind blowing in from the sea can play a significant role.
Subject of a significant upgrade over the years, the course was well presented and it makes the very best of what must have been a difficult routing due to the configuration of the land.
My second stopover for the trip was another superb top-drawer hotel with a selection of enticing restaurants, the Amathus Beach Hotel in Limassol. Heading back out for more golf, I was very impressed by the Cabell Robinson design at Aphrodite Hills which runs over two expansive areas of high ground and cliff-tops right next door to Secret Valley.
There are back-to-back stunners at seven and eight; a par 3 across a gorge with the most heart-stopping access path you can possibly encounter, and a dreamy short par 4 to the edge of the cliffs with the balmy backdrop of the azure sea where there is even an ancient olive press preserved in the middle of the fairway.
Each is worth the green fee on its own, but there are plenty of other very good holes, especially the handful of very attractive par 3s. There are some substantial walks between holes and a buggy is therefore probably a sensible idea, especially when it’s hot.
There are a couple of other courses in the area; Minthis Hills which used to be known as Tsada, and Vikla which is further to the east near Larnaca. On top of this, the island has a wealth of archaeological sites, and the plush new marina at Limassol is well worth a visit.
Cyprus has long been a popular target for holidaymakers. Now, with its small but varied array of golf, its greatly improved accommodation, cuisine and wines, there is something for everyone at any time of the year.