A long-standing and popular holiday destination, this sun-kissed island in the Mediterranean has plenty for golfers, too
By Chris Johnston
For those who fancy experiencing something a little bit different on their next golf holiday, Cyprus ticks all the boxes.
One of the largest and most populous islands in the Mediterranean, it is also one of the most historic, with a heritage reportedly reaching back as far as 10,000 BC. It benefits from a magnificent climate, with the mercury hitting an average of 24C throughout the year and as high as 35C at the peak of the summer.
Geographically, it also has mile upon mile of unspoilt sandy beaches, as well as beautiful towns and dramatic scenery. So, it’s hardly a surprise that approximately two million people visit the island every year, making it one of the world’s top 50 holiday destinations.
A large number of those bring their golf clubs with them, and for good reason. Cyprus has an enviable selection of beautiful courses, all of which represent superb value and offer lots and lots of fun. We’ve singled out four of our favourites, which we strongly suggest you consider if you do indeed make the trip there sometime soon.
The first golf course in Cyprus, Minthis Hills boasts a rich history and a great outlook for the future. Designed by Donald Steel in 1994, it has recently undergone extensive enhancement by Mackenize& Ebert, the same design firm used by the R&A to tweak many of the courses on the Open rota. The course is situated in the grounds of a 12th century monastery, from which it took its name, and it offers spectacular, expansive views of the Troodos mountain range and the city of Paphos towards the Mediterranean Sea. Its tranquil setting and mesmerising mountain views provide the perfect backdrop for a challenging round, with its fairways tumbling around mature trees and several water features. Sitting at more than 500 metres above sea level, it also benefits from sea breezes that will keep you nice and cool, even at the height of the season when it can get particuarly hot out there. With great off-course facilities and first-class service as standard, it is a ‘must’ visit.
Nestled in a scenic valley by Petra TouRomiou - where legend has it that Aphrodite, the fabled Goddess of Love, was born – Secret Valley Golf Course has everything a visiting golfer could want: a stunning location; a friendly, relaxed atmosphere; and a superb course that is playable all year round. You will find it just a ten-minute drive from Paphos International Airport and, with three different sets of tees for both men and women, it has a course you can enjoy irrespective of your ability. Even if your game isn’t at its most sharp, you will still enjoy a great day out soaking up the spectacular views that pierce the eponymous valley towards the sea in the distance. The tranquil clubhouse is the perfect place to unwind before or after your round - it offers an a la carte dining experience seven days a week - whilst the state-of-the-art golf academy is ideal for anyone looking to hone their skills. As one visitor put it, “Any time spent at Secret Valley Golf Club is time well spent.” We totally agree.
The highly-acclaimed Elea Golf Club, part of the prestigious Elea Estate, is one of the newer additions to golf in Cyprus – having opened for play in 2010 – and commands a breathtaking location alongside the shimmering eastern Mediterranean and the ancient town of Paphos. How good is it? Well, Golf Magazine in the USA described as one of the ‘top 10 new international courses’ just a few years ago, so, yeah, it’s pretty good! The 6,900-yard layout wanders through groves of mature carob and olive trees, while dramatic outcrops of weathered limestone strikingly contrast with the dark green fairways that, on many holes, are fringed by Mediterranean grasses and an abundance of wild herbs and native flora. It is a feast for the eyes as much as a challenge of your skill. Eléa Estate’s stylish clubhouse, meanwhile, is inspired by traditional Mediterranean architecture and incorporates several terraces and balconies offering unrivalled views across the course and down to the sea.
The first-ever leisure and golf development of its kind in Cyprus, the Aphrodite Hills Resort is home to a magnificent 18-hole championship standard golf course that opened for play in 2002. Overlooking the site where Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, is said to have emerged from the sea, the course also has a dedicated three-hole golfing academy and sumptuous clubhouse. The course designer, Cabell Robinson, believes Aphrodite Hills to be the perfect mix of challenging pot bunkers, manicured fairways and generous tiered greens. Visually spectacular, it expands through indigenous olive and carob trees and is built on two plateaux, separated by a dramatic ravine, providing outstanding views over the Mediterranean Sea. Over and above all this, with a large, double-ended driving range, a short game area with a large pitching and chipping green and a three-hole academy course, Aphrodite Hills also provides the perfect environment for learning golf before progressing to the full course.