Where to play Golf in Cyprus?
The first golf course in Tsada, in the Paphos area, opened in 1994. Two years later the Secret Valley Golf course opened. Since then, golfing holidays in Cyprus had become an established reality. Both these prestige courses have associated developments of residential property. They are at two very different locations, with the Tsada course set in the grounds of a tenth century monastery.
Secret valley is set back from the coastal road, with very good access from nearby Limassol.
The latest golf project, the Aphrodite Hills complex, offers even more for golfers. Located near the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, Petra Tou Romiou, and close to Limassol, with good access to Pafos airport, and to the highways linking Pafos with Limassol, Larnaka and Nicosia.
Aphrodite Hills comprises 234 hectares, surrounded by the Randi Forest, which is protected by the Cyprus Forestry department. The site is spread over two gently sloping plateaux, known as ‘Kapsalia’ and ‘Dasia’. A steep sloped ravine, ‘Argaki tou Randidhiou’, divides these plateaux. The site rises to 220 metres above sea level, which means that the air is always fresh, without the summer humidity experienced at lower levels. The project has been planned to blend with this spectacular setting, with only 8% of gross area to be developed and sympathetic treatment of the existing maquis landscape and designated game reserve area. As part of this approach, many existing olive trees have been temporarily transplanted to a special ‘nursery’, whence they have returned once the project was completed. Additionally, thousands more of the indigenous carob and olive trees are being planted around the site.
Aphrodite Hills will boast a range of amenities and services that will certainly place it as one of the finest leisure resorts worldwide. The Tennis Academy caters for students and players of all levels, with eight courts including a championship centre court with spectator seats. The Health and Fitness Centre will include a spa and Thalasso-therapy treatment centre. The comprehensive Town Plan provides for a village square with shops, restaurants and bars. The tenancy of these units will be carefully monitored to ensure that there is a sufficient variety of goods and services, offered by experienced specialists. Roads will radiate from the centre to the quieter residential areas. There will be nature trails and horse riding facilities around the locality and the nearby beach. It is also possible to reach the beach by a footpath through the scenic countryside, or by buggy cart. All the roads in Aphrodite Hills have both pedestrian and ‘buggy’ pathways alongside; the golf course itself is ‘buggy only’. Naturally, the golf course and its concomitant amenities, are fundamental to the concept of Aphrodite Hills. The clubhouse has bar and restaurant facilities and a pro-shop offering the latest fashions in golf apparel and a range of equipment for sale and hire. The range of practice facilities is remarkable. Of particular interest is the 300 meter range with covered bays, to enable year-round use and four target greens with bunkers. A practice course featuring three full length holes and short-game practice facilities complete the services of the Golf Academy.
The 18-hole, par 71, course was designed by respected American course architect, Cabell Robinson, who has taken full advantage of the wonderful setting. The most dramatic fairways run alongside or even, in the case of the par three 7th, within the ravine. Playing the 8th, set against a scenic backdrop of the clear blue Mediterranean, it may be necessary to take advantage of certain ‘local rules’, arising from the interesting archaeology of the area. Two sites were discovered during the work on this particular hole; one is an ancient oil press, the other, an old kiln, about 200 years old, which lies on the fairway and will be designated a ‘kiln bunker’.
Small mammals, such as hares and foxes, are to be found on the site, but the largest fauna population is bird life, both permanent residents and migratory visitors. It is possible to anticipate “19th hole” claims of a birdie on the sixth, or an eagle on the fourteenth, as an ornithologist’s rather than a golfer’s tale. Indeed, Bonelli’s eagles are to be seen in the area, as well as partridge, francolins, rock doves, wood pigeons. Visiting migrants include swallows, the colourful bee-eaters and swans. The lake, which is designed for the irrigation water for the golf course, attracted a party of swans during its first winter.
The use of warm season grass for the golf fairways, which has reduced irrigation requirements, is another example of environmental consideration, which extends also to the choice of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers.
Another aspect of the concern for the environment shown in the planning of the golf course is the construction of a treatment plant to recycle sewage from within the site for irrigation purposes. A licence to build a desalination plant to help conserve water has also been granted. The potable water for the resort is supplied from the Kouklia Community’s resources.
Landscaping, including gardens of individual villas, is planned to be in keeping with the natural setting, and the generously sized plots are restricted to a building ratio of 10%. The setting of the villas in small clusters enhances this low-density plan.
In order to maintain the natural theme, there are strict regulations on what can be built. Even the electricity substations have stone cladding and tiled roofs, in keeping with style of traditional Cypriot construction. Windows of the houses are tall and narrow, with panelled shutters to fold back to open rooms onto wide patios and gardens.
Aphrodite Hills’ most desirable homes are set around the golf course, and each of the plots offer views of the course, the valley or the sea; in some case, a combination of all three. As well as these individual plots, there are flats and townhouses grouped into village style settings, with communal swimming pools and landscaped areas. The first of these clusters, known collectively as Helios Heights, is situated near the Golf and Tennis academies, with easy access to the centre with its shops and restaurants.
Property owners have the option to become annual members of the Golf Club at special rates, allowing them unlimited use of the course, the right to introduce guests and entitlement to discounts in Pro Shop and the bar and restaurant of the Club House.
Similar deals will be available to people staying in the self-catering holiday apartments. Of course, there is also the possibility for a visitor or a Cyprus resident to play golf at Aphrodite Hills by paying the appropriate green fees. The increasing number and quality of the courses in Cyprus will encourage young Cypriots to take up the game. The recent establishment of the Cyprus Golf Federation should help in this respect, as they will promote the game in school and youth group settings.
Today, Cyprus is not only far from being a golf-starved country, it is likely that it could be considered a high-quality golfing destination instead.