Another new European course that I have a gut feeling will get many positive reviews (including mine). The surrounding area of the course is by no means complete but don’t let that influence your opinion of the course as the design is very good. I think that of the half a dozen Faldo designed courses I have played, strategy must be the key word in Sir Nick’s mind at the outset. The bunkering at Elea is severe and not unlike Faldo’s Chart Hills
, England to be honest. The greens are very tough too, with subtle run-offs, speedy surfaces and confusing grain that can make putts turn uphill! Only the very best of short games will survive on what I would call professional’s greens - comparisons could easily be made with those at The Grove
, England. I found a similar theme on all 18 holes at Elea, with each hole becoming more difficult from start to finish (i.e. tee shots not too tricky, approaches a little tricky and the work around and on the greens very tricky!). The option to run a shot up to the green doesn’t exist, all shots need to carry to the putting surfaces but with fairways cut tight (giving a links turf feel) there are chances to control the ball on landing. The pick of the front-nine holes for me start with the par-5 2nd; there is a ditch about 175 yard out that needs negotiating plus plenty of deep greenside bunkering. The 5th, a par-4 is a nice hole; water at the green on the left and a tough green to hold. Best hole on this nine has to be the 9th – a reachable par-5 with water at the green-side and deep bunkers behind the putting surfaces – This hole is named Barney’s Rest, which is also the name of the welcoming half-way hut (fine bacon rolls indeed). The 11th hole is my favourite par-3; called Thistle which is apt as there is a Scottish feel to this short hole (all carry with a huge jigsaw piece bunker protecting). The final three holes are very strong indeed – all par-4’s and tough…the 16th continues the theme of an easy drive but not so easy approach (tip: take more club)…the 17th is SI-1 - a sloping fairway favours a fade to counteract this but then the shot to the green must be the hardest approach on the course; very long and needing to carry the vegetation to get anywhere near the green. The final hole is tough too, bunkers on the right side at driving length and further bunkering down the left on the way to the green. I am sure to return to Elea in the future as I thoroughly enjoyed my two rounds in March 2011 – my only worry/concern about the course would be, is it too difficult to get near handicap? Not sure but plenty of fun will be had trying. The off-course facilities at the clubhouse are all of high order with an air of quality throughout the bar/restaurant/warm-up area/caddie-master etc. and already a comfortable club atmosphere is evident.