Football, basketball and volleyball are the most popular Greek sports but there are only a handful of golf courses on the whole mainland and the many Greek islands combined. So it might come as a surprise that there's good golf to be had on the enchanting Ionian Island of Corfu. Not only is the golf good, but the course is also one of the best kept in Europe.
Corfu Golf Club was founded in 1971 and the English architect Don Harradine designed it. The course blends seamlessly into the picturesque Ropa Valley and the cleverly designed hazards make it a solid and fair test for both low and high handicap players. The bent grass greens can be as fast as the marble floors in the clubhouse, but they are often more gently paced. Eucalyptus and poplar attractively line the fairways and there is a fair smattering of water, both in the form of lakes and meandering streams.
There are no weak holes at Corfu, but there are three or four fantastic ones. Harradine clearly set out to prove that a good course does not need length to test the golfer. It's the variety of challenge from the tee and careful thought that's required with the approach shot which makes Corfu such a delight. For the imaginative and careful golfer, Corfu will present birdie opportunities, especially from the forward tees.
The 7th and 10th are great holes, the former demanding two big hits to reach the green for an eagle chance. The 10th, a par four, requires a brave and accurate approach to avoid water lurking at the side of the green. The 10th was the victim of storm damage some years ago and two obstructive trees were destroyed. Whilst this made the hole a little easier, it has brought the green into play and, of course, the watery grave that surrounds it.
The 16th, a 205-yard par three, has everything you'd like to avoid in a par three – water, length, and a bank up to a steeply sloping green. In some ways it resembles the same hole at Augusta, but it's arguably tougher with its extra yardage and the disadvantage of frequently having to hit into the prevailing wind. Nevertheless, it is a beautifully structured hole and a relief to bogey. This par three belongs to an excellent finishing stretch, with the 17th, demanding a perfect drive in order to get sight of the green, and the 18th tests your powers of course management and patience to the limit.
Corfu really is a hidden gem, situated in a quiet corner of the island, amidst a wonderfully natural setting. It's a great course and well worth a visit at any time of year.