Situated ten kilometres to the south of the Dunes course, the Bay course opened at the end of 2011, shortly after its sibling made its debut. And with a third course – The Hills – in the planning process, Costa Navarino seems set to provide Greece with a top class golfing destination on its Peloponnese western coast.
Some might be surprised to learn that architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr 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."
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.