Situated ten kilometres to the south of the Dunes course, the 18-hole Bay layout opened at the end of 2011, shortly after its older sibling made its debut. And with another two José María Olazábal-designed courses – Olympic Academy and Hills – opening in 2022, Costa Navarino now provides Greece with a top class golfing destination on its Peloponnese western coast.
Some might be surprised to learn that architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. has amassed as many as thirty European courses in his design portfolio and the Bay course is one of the newest additions to that impressive collection.
The old master has laid out the fairways here on a landscape that moves from lush olive groves and mountain canyons down to the seashore, where two of the holes have been routed alongside the historic Ionian bay of Navarino."The Bay Course is sculpted out of the earth and rock of Greek soil, much like the marble statues of the ancients," says Jones. "Those deities were noble and graceful, and the golf course now reflects the same sense of beauty."
The scenic views across the Bay of Navarino are a feature of the Bay golf course and are truly spectacular. The Bay also has massive historic significance, for after a major Naval battle here in October 1827, Greece finally became an independent country.
The Bay course, the second built at Costa Navarino nearly 10 years ago, is a good ‘holiday’ golf course and is entertaining to play. But in my view, it is only an average golf course. It rises and falls over a hilly coastal area and at less than 6200 yards from the Back Tees, is no more than an adequate test for the serious, rather than fun-seeking golfer. Four par3s in 6 holes from the 6th does not allow the middle part of the course to flow, and although the six par3s in total are all good, they don’t set the pulse racing.
The holes have been renumbered in recent times, and I liked the stretch from 3 to 7, beginning with back-to-back par5s, one uphill the other downhill, and ending with a seriously tough uphill par5 which is correctly rated as ‘index one’ on the scorecard.
The biggest regret to me is that the Resort has sacrificed some flatter land nearer the coast for large-scale development, work that is in full swing at present. This makes me believe that the golf course is slightly shoe-horned into its site, and quality has suffered as a result.
But make no mistake, the golf course is already successful because of its amazing setting. We played it twice and enjoyed both times, but would regard the first -built course ‘The Dunes’ as clearly superior. There are plans to build three more courses at the Resort, with the nearby ‘Hills East’ and ‘Hills West’ due to open for play early in 2022.
The Bay course is around ten minutes from the centre at Navarino and gives some breath-taking views around the bay of which it takes its name, the course has plenty of elevation change so these superb views get better and better. The Bay clubhouse is new, very new and is brilliant allowing superb views across the course and across the bay. The new lounge here has been named ‘Ted’s Lounge’ after Theodore Vassilakis (Aegean Airlines founder) to mark his friendship with Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos, the creator of Costa Navarino. This will no doubt become a busy a meeting point for visiting golfers pre and post golf.
I enjoyed the course at lot and there is a mixture of many types of hole with the par-3’s really memorable. I believe that the current routing is new and different to what is currently on view on the Costa Navarino website so, I will describe holes (white tees) according the card I played in February 2020. The par-3 2nd at 149 metres brings you to the bay-side early in the round and so long as your shot does not leak into the water on the right, this is not a tough hole. Holes 3 and 4 are both par-5’s which are a little up and down but the downhill 4th is actually a good hole with the second shot the key one as a ditch runs across the fairway around 150 metres from the green. A third par-5 on the front nine comes at the 7th and a hole that I really enjoyed; the whole hole is very slim, so a premium on hitting and staying in the fairway is obvious before approaching uphill to great undulating green. The front nine ends with a par-3 at the 8th and then the par-4 9th has the bay as a beautiful back-drop – these holes make-up three of each par on the front nine.
One thing for me that is a concern is the routing of the course that I played and the main reason is the order of the holes now. The back nine starts with back to back par-3’s, which means that after the 11th hole you would have already played five short holes which does not feel a good balance. When you also think that on busy days there is likely to be a two-tee start, starting on the back will mean two par-3s to kick off a round, not great for me. Good holes definitely but I do challenge the order currently. Holes 12 (par-4) and 13 (par-5) share a fair bit of fairway with the former the weakest hole on the course for me; it is a short par-4 but could be made much tougher with protection at the green as currently there are no bunkers, making this a gimmie in terms of par.
After a little negative from me on the start of the back nine, it is all positives from the 14th tee to the end of the round. The 14th at 291 metres plays around a lake and it is your choice as to how much to cut-off, really good hole. The par-5 15th has one of the toughest drives, although the fairway is quite wide, you need to be pretty straight as you come out of a funnel affect with dense woodland left and right. The par-4 17th is as close to the bay as you can get on the course and a beautiful place to be; a 358-metre hole with anything with a hint of ‘right’ certainly will be wet.
The home hole is a reverse replica of the opening hole and they run side by side, which in terms of the routing feels perfect – both straight forward par-4’s, similar length, similar stroke index and decent chances to start and end your round well.
Post golf, you have to return to Ted’s Lounge in the clubhouse – if you get the chance to see the sunset from the terrace over the course, your day will end well regardless of how well you have played the Bay course.
During our visit in February 2020, we had the pleasure of meeting with course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr – and with more than 300 course designs to his name, he is certainly one of the most influential designers of all time and it was a joy to be in his company.
The Bay course paired with the Dunes course and staying at one of Navarino’s accommodation options to enjoy the resort facilities is very impressive and highly recommended.
I choose to play the Bay Course rather than the Dunes course, and wow it was an amazing course. The Clubhouse is still under construction and will be completed next month April, and it will be an "earth sheltered clubhouse" it was shaping up too look unbelievable with views looking down over the bay. The holes will be re numbered as of next month also, now you have to get transportation to the driving range from the temporary container clubhouse! And yes it's a Container at the moment with style, it just sums up how unique this place is even before playing it. The first hole dog leg right which will be the new 14th hole the only hole with water on it except the few par 3's that run along the coast of the bay. Then there are a few par 3's which some are boring, and then you get to the S.I 1 which is an uphill par 5 with serious elevation, anything short here and your done! Then there are a few tricky holes up high above the clubhouse followed by more boring par 3's.
Bad bit's are it was a bit pricey, long drives between tee's with buggy, obviously a lot of construction going on at the moment, however in a few years time this course will be spectacular.
I will definitely come back and play this course and also the new 18 holes they are building up in the hills, Costa Navarino top marks!
I got a chance to play the course two days running, nine holes one day then nine the next day, using the routing that will eventually become the recognized front and back nines. I must disagree with the previous two reviewers who thought the Bay was a better course than the Dunes – it’s not!
It’s a more scenic layout and all six par three holes are more challenging than the Dunes but there’s no way it could be classed as a better course, even though I can understand why golfers would choose to play here rather than the other course – I’m probably in that category myself, actually.
I thought the fairways were well constructed but the rather contrived green contouring on a number of holes left a bit to be desired, especially at the par four 4th (one of two holes that runs along the bay) where I started my first 9-hole round on a shotgun start.
The par threes at the 3rd and 9th are excellent short holes, the first played uphill to a back to front sloping green, the other falling away sharply to the left of the putting surface. I also really liked the downhill par five 7th, where a creek slashes diagonally across the fairway 100 metres from the green.
On the back nine, the uphill par five 10th is a bit tight as thick vegetation lines both sides of the fairway, so it’s well worth its status as stroke index 1. Back-to-back par threes at 15 and 16 make sensible use of the landscape, with the first of these holes traversing the “snake pit” canyon.
I understand another 18-hole layout is to be built further inland, on top of the hills that overlook the Bay course, so the main golf focus at Costa Navarino will eventually switch from the Dunes to here. When that happens, the new Bay clubhouse should also be in place to cater for the influx of additional players.
Having played the Dunes course last week, I played the Bay the following day. Whilst I enjoyed the Dunes very much, the Bay was a superior course and experience. There were huge variations in elevation and the views were spectacular. My only criticism was the state of the greens. there was nothing wrong with the surface & speed but I have never seen a course of such quality have so many poorly repaired pitch marks. For this reason I am only rating the course Very Good when it should get an Excellent. This was a pity as overall the Bay was an amazing golf course.