If you’re searching for the ultimate winter
golf getaway without straying from the confines of Europe, Cyprus is pretty
much the perfect destination.
In the months of December, January and February, the Mediterranean island boasts an average temperature of 17.5˚C – hotter than Glasgow in July and August. It has one of the mildest climates in Europe and, with 180 hours of sunshine per month in the winter in coastal locations, you’re guaranteed some much-needed sun.
But while most tourists travel to Cyprus to escape the brutal British weather, more are starting to visit to experience its burgeoning reputation as a golfing paradise.
Four of the best facilities – Minthis Hills, Eléa, Aphrodite Hills Golf - PGA National Cyprus and Secret Valley – are all within a 20-minute drive of the popular resort city of Paphos, making the game incredibly accessible to avid golfers in search of differing challenges.
The first course built in Cyprus was Minthis Hills (main image) in 1994. Set in a picturesque valley overlooking an unspoilt panorama of rolling hills and encircling a 12th century monastery, the championship course lies 550 metres above sea level and is a course for all seasons, enjoying cool breezes and mesmerising mountain views.
Now is an exciting time at Minthis with the development of two new holes by architects Mackenzie & Ebert, who were behind the redesign of both courses at Trump Turnberry. There will be a new par-5 hole boasting dramatic views of the Troodos Mountains, which is set to open in 2019, and a par-3 that requires great skill with pines to the left and a deep bunker to the right in 2018.
Eléa (above), meanwhile, is widely acknowledged as Sir Nick Faldo’s ‘Mediterranean Masterpiece’. The six-time major winner’s course forms part of the prestigious Eléa Estate, which commands a breathtaking location just 8km from Paphos International Airport.
Since opening seven years ago, the 6,900-yard course has established itself as one of the Med’s true gems, meandering through groves of mature carob and olive trees, while dramatic outcrops of weathered limestone contrast with the dark green fairways.
Another one of the delights in the Paphos area is Aphrodite Hills Golf – PGA National Cyprus (above), which spreads out over 6,877 meters. The course, which opened in 2002, was designed by architect Cabell Robinson, whose vision was for it to be the perfect mix of challenging pot bunkers, manicured fairways of lush Bermuda grass and generous tiered greens.
Visually spectacular, the course is built on two plateaux, separated by a dramatic ravine with outstanding views over the Mediterranean. The staggering 130-metre gorge dividing tees at the seventh hole is an enticing challenge for all players.
Like Minthis Hills, Aphrodite Hills Golf - PGA National Cyprus is also in the midst of some renovation work in order to enhance its golf offering to visitors, with a €2.5m investment involving the complete reconstruction greens and bunkers.
The full unveiling is scheduled for February 2018 with the upgrades promising to maintain the resort’s position among the top, if not one of the very best experiences in Europe.
Last, but by no means least, is Secret Valley (above). The golf course celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and is nestled in a scenic valley with brightly-coloured rock formations where legend says Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born.
Designed by architects from Golf and Land Design with input from two-time major winner Tony Jacklin, the 5,307-yard layout utilises the steep hillside terrain for spectacular tee locations and long views towards valley and ocean.
And, to add even more golfing excitement, a floodlit three-hole loop for evening play has been conveniently located at the lowest end of the golf course where the beach development links with the golf course.
With its diverse golf offering, great gastronomy, culture - Paphos being the European Capital of Culture 2017 - quality hotels and hospitality, it isn’t too difficult to see why Cyprus’ popularity as a golf destination is sky-rocketing – and all this only 20 years after the country’s first course was built.
The Mediterranean isle is lying in wait and it couldn’t be easier to get there, with flights direct from Glasgow to Paphos through various airlines including easyJet, Jet2 and Thomson.