Costa Navarino as a destination gives a fantastic experience on and off the courses with the Dunes course the standout right now. Who knows if this will change when the two new Olazabal courses at Navarino Hills open in 2021 – I have seen the designs and walked some of the holes already and cannot wait to see these when open for play as the excitement of taking Navarino to the next level is obvious.
The Dunes course is located conveniently right by the resort accommodation at the Westin or the Romanos and definitely combines fun with plenty of quality on the course and it is a course that I believe really improves as the round develops. I do think that the existing player reviews here (4 x 6-ball opinions) need a little reality check though – this is a very good golf course but giving it the maximum perfection treatment is a bit mis-leading and whilst I agree with a Continental European Top 100 position, I cannot see the Dunes being world ranked.
The opening hole is strong, a decent par-4 with six bunkers protecting, three in the fairway on the right and three just short of the green. The water that is to the left of the teeing grounds is unlikely to be in play but is the only time you see any inside of the course boundary. The 2nd hole is a short par-4 with a gorgeous backdrop of the Ionian Sea – but with the wind likely to be against, will still need a decent approach with more club than it looks. I think the first big talking point comes at another short par-4 at the 6th; here we stand at the highest point on the course and look down a beautiful hole that is there for the taking but and a big but is the green is everything. The most undulating on the course, so whilst length of the 6th is not the issue, putting most certainly is and birdies and pars have to be worked for. I enjoyed the par-3 8th too, another with an interesting green where you can run up a score if in the wrong place, which is very possible as the green is around 50 metres in length. The front nine ends with a par-4, a hole that is very straight and maybe a little straight forward – decent undulations at the green but no bunkering, I believe that at least one, maybe just a small pot bunker would enhance the hole.
A downhill par-3 starts the back nine, club selection very important here as three deep bunkers protect the green very well. Super fairway bunkering on the 12th hole with seven to contend with, a very strong par-4. In a similar way to Costa Navarino’s Bay course, the second half of the Dunes back nine is the best part of the course. The 15th is a short par-4 with a very clever false front at the green – meaning here an elevated approach is a must. The 16th is my current favourite hole across both of the courses – we have a par-5 that dog-legs to the left and has a big downhill elevation change to the green, add in bunkers at driveable distance and then again at the lay-up position and then the green is another of Navarino’s undulating beauties too. A double tiered green is the standout feature on the par-3 17th and then the final hole is another strong dog-legging par-5 slightly uphill this time, with the second shot the most important – a good position avoiding sand can setup a chance of a big finish in front of the clubhouse to the right of the green.
As a destination, Costa Navarino is first class and a joy to stay and play at and with two new courses due in 2021 can only get better.
Date: March 17, 2020