Every year Leadingcourses’ Evangelist Leonard takes his beloved Ambassadors on a trip to an international golf destination. In 2020, Costa Navarino in Greece opened its doors for our group of dedicated golf nuts, and it surely did not disappoint.

This article was written by Dirk Kesseböhmer, Guillem Mataro, Yves Charmy and Sarah Forrest.

What is the definition of a golf destination? In our opinion, there should at least be a number of golf courses within a reasonable radius. There should also be good accommodations and restaurants in the area.

Does that make Greece as a country a golfing destination? With only 9 courses in the whole country, not really. But zooming in on the Kalamata area on the Peloponnese peninsula, we think it’s safe to say that this is a golf destination. Costa Navarino on the west coast is the proof.

Located 45 minutes from Kalamata Airport, Costa Navarino is ideally integrated on the coastal flanks of the seaside of this region and offers all the services that can be expected in this type of establishment. If you stay in this place for more than a week, you could almost picture yourself as a god in the land of Olympus.

The Bay Course at Costa Navarino

By Dirk Kesseböhmer

Having heard so many good things about Costa Navarino’s Bay-Course I was very interested in if it would match my high expectations. Our group met after a quick breakfast and because our golf bags had been transferred earlier, we were able to enjoy the short free transfer (about 10 minutes) from the hotel to The Bay Course.

The new clubhouse at The Bay Course had been finished and we were able to tee off from the champions tee on hole number 1. We were a little nervous while waiting for the greenkeeper to open the gate, as the champions tee is on the rooftop of the clubhouse. Lucky for us, the Champions Tee is only used where there are no guests on the terrace.

View from the champions tee on the 1st hole of The Bay Course at Costa Navarino. (Photo: member Leonard)

We got a small introduction on the new clubhouse, which was really impressing. Inside it is very spacious with nice views of the bay and from outside it is perfectly integrated into nature. Very well trained and friendly staff take care of all golfer’s needs – this was a perfect welcome.
Just a few meters from the clubhouse a putting area and the new driving range wait for golfers to warm up before the round.

The driving range at Costa Navarino Bay (Photo: member Dirk Kesseböhmer)

Friendly start

The course measures 5.232 meters from the yellow tees (Par 72) and the slope index of 135 shows, that this one might not be easy to play. It has been routed to its original design end 2019 and to me, this new routing seems really perfect. The design of the course was done by Robert Trent Jones Jr. My fellow ambassadors told me that the layout and design are not really typical for him. As the course is integrated into the hilly surroundings, it is wise to take a cart – otherwise, the course might not even take your breath just with the view it offers 😊. Those were the facts, now for the feeling …

Teeing off from the roof of the clubhouse was an amazing feeling – in the distance, you can see the green and behind it the bay, which gave name to the course. Every one of our group hit their ball on the fairway and off we were on one of the most beautiful courses I ever played.

The Bay Course starts with two “friendly” holes beside the beach and then it starts climbing up the Navarino Bay. The new layout of the course lets you play two huge circles around the clubhouse and especially on the back nine you play some holes on the “hills”. The last holes take you back to the clubhouse and are located along the coast again, where the sound of the waves whisper you farewell.

Take a rest before you finish your round. (Photo: member Leonard)

Surpassed expectations

All fairways, bunkers and greens met my high expectations and the well-equipped buggies (with GPS) make your already perfect golfing day even easier. All in all The Bay Course was in perfect condition and the greenkeepers really do a great job. I always think about what could be changed to make the courses I play better – this one is perfect as it is!

In the end, I was so happy with the chance to play this course – a perfect course that surpassed my high expectations. I promised myself to come back soon – maybe the new hotel, which is being built beside the course at the moment, will be ready then!

The Dunes Course at Costa Navarino

By Yves Charmy

The Dunes Course at Costa Navarino is located within Navarino Dunes opposed to The Bay Course which is 9 km away. On the Dunes Course, the vision of the German champion Bernhard Langer is present. As a connoisseur of the game of golf that he is, he knew how to take advantage of the natural movement of the terrain (hence the name of the course) to draw a championship course, that will bring fun and challenge for all levels of play.

Undulated terrain at the Dunes course at Costa Navarino. (Photo: Costa Navarino)

The clubhouse of The Dunes Course is only a couple of minutes from the lobby of The Westin Resort Costa Navarino. The majestic entrance of the clubhouse offers a pro-shop and access to the Flame Restaurant. From the terrace or the interior room, the restaurant offers guests an exceptional view of the surrounding countryside and the 18th hole.

The Flame restaurant at The Dunes Course offers a great view on the 18th hole of the course. (Photo: Costa Navarino)

In order to fully enjoy this course, I would advise you to visit the short game area which is located behind the tee of hole 9. This short game area will allow you to get used to the (Bermuda) grass, and to play shots up to 120m either downhill or uphill. Be careful not to get mesmerized near the green of hole 14, on another part of the course. These two areas are clearly assets during a stay of several days at the Resort of Costa Navarino, it will allow all players to improve their game or take a lesson with one of the pro’s available from the academy.

The practise area at the Dunes Course of Costa Navarino. (Photo: Costa Navarino)

The first hole is challenging but playable, like most holes on The Dunes Course. The second is the signature hole, a shorter par-4 with amazing views of the sea. After that, the course is an adventure of various holes that lead to an exceptional finish, starting at hole 15. There are a lot of risk-reward shots, drivable par-4’s and challenging par-3’s. This is a course that you can play repeatedly for days without getting bored.

The view on the 2nd hole of The Dunes Course. (Photo: Costa Navarino)

The Dunes Course is a real championship course and from the first hole, your game will be put to the test. But it will also offer a lot of enjoyment for players of all levels. I would advise you to play the course with a buggy to leave more energy for your game. However, walking the course is also possible.

Costa Navarino’s future

By Guillem Mataro

If the present of Costa Navarino is good, the future looks to be even better, in fact, it looks gorgeous. In Costa Navarino they are proud to be a sustainable destination and they are now expanding its offering by developing two beachfront eco-hotels and two new premium golf courses. The hotels will be set in the Navarino Bay area and the courses in the newly formed Navarino Hills.

Navarino Hills

The two new courses are born from the partnership between Costa Navarino with two-time Masters Champion and Ryder Cup legend José Maria Olazábal.

José Maria Olazábal designed the new courses at Costa Navarino. (Photo: Costa Navarino)

The courses are set in high (120m) above the coastline and with marvelous views over The Bay Course and the historic Bay of Navarino. From there you also have panoramic views (almost a 360º view) of the surrounding countryside, the fertile Messiaen landscape with all the typical olive trees, the mountains, local villages and the Ionian Sea.

A new clubhouse is going to be built to take care of the necessities of both new courses, together with a huge premium short game area in front of it. With Olazábal’s signature courses, Costa Navarino will be a world-class golfing destination especially considering the ideal climate. Navarino Hills will also help Costa Navarino to be one of the most environmentally friendly golf destinations. An irrigation lake of 15.000 m3 is completed and a water reservoir of 428.000 m3 is underway, both key for sustainable management of water resources.

An artist impression of the new Costa Navarino Hills course. (Image: Costa Navarino)

With all these 4 golf courses, all of them different and suitable for all kind of players, from just leisure holidays players to challenging the low handicaps and even professionals, Costa Navarino will fulfill any kind of golfing demands and turn them among the top golf destinations in Europe.

New Hotels

Two new hotels are under construction in the Navarino Bay area:
The Hotel at Navarino Bay designed by the association of two renowned Greek architects Tombazis & Associates and K-Studio will be the most luxurious hotel in the whole destination. It will offer 99 suites and pool villas, all within two kilometres of waterfront. Similar to the marvellous new clubhouse at the Navarino Bay Course, the hotel will have an earth-sheltered design with buildings blending into the curved hillside and also with planted roofs. All integrated into the natural topography and using local materials in its building. The new hotel will also have an exclusive beach club, swimming pool and spa, several restaurants, bars and terraces overlooking the sea.

The new hotel at Costa Navarino Bay is integrated in the natural topography. (Image: Costa Navarino)

The Hotel at Navarino Waterfront designed by Tombazis & Associates will be different in design. It will bring a contemporary take on a traditional port town and will borrow architectural details from the region but with a modern style. This hotel is meant to be the ideal place for those who are looking for a livelier holiday, more vibrant and lifestyle. There will be a waterfront agora with shops, restaurants, open-air cinema, lagoon pools and much more. The hotel will have 174 rooms and suites as well as 26 bungalows.

This is just the beginning

By Sarah Forrest

As the sun sets on my mini campaign to highlight the greatness of Costa Navario I thought I’d show you the what else? We know that there are two great golf courses with The Bay Course and The Dunes Course and its 2 beautiful hotels too.

With plans afoot for 2 more golf courses and 2 more hotels, one might think “oh no…. concrete jungle”, but I’m happy to say, this is different. It won’t be piled high on top of each other but spread out, so each area offers a unique experience. It is already a great family destination but it carefully balances all the desires of each family member making it a winning family location for all golfers and non-golfers alike.

The pools, spa and gym plus the food are all of high quality and to be honest, you would expect that too. So why would you visit Costa Navarino? It could be its beach frontage, where early morning beach yoga could be part of your routine then onto surfing, windsurfing, or stand up paddleboarding before settling down to lunch in one of the many restaurants. But as well as a great selection of water activities, there are the gentle strolls to the full-blown hikes and a for those still wanting to burn off more energy, they have the racquet academy too.

The possibilities at Costa Navarino are endless. (Photo: Costa Navarino)

If cycling on the road or cycling over rough terrain is your bag, go for it! Whilst others might prefer the ten-pin bowling, designed around an American diner for an authentic feel. If this is sounding like some purpose-built resort that has it all, it is, but there are ways in which such a complex can be designed to make you and your family feel special – to focus on you and your family, as opposed to one of many in factory-like fashion. At Costa Navarino you are not one of many, you are an individual enjoying your holiday around what you want to do. They just open the door – all you need to do is walk through and enjoy.

This is just the beginning!

View a blogpost of another trip to Costa Navarino.

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