In past decades, the well-known song lyric “a little wine, a little sea, and my sweetheart” might have sufficed for a summer-focused tourist campaign. However, in recent years, Greece has made considerable strides in modernizing organized travel and summer vacations. Today, the country actively participates in the “thematic tourism” sector, offering the potential for further growth.
New challenges arise from sectors such as climbing, conference/convention, and religious tourism, as well as the targeted utilization of coastal locations and cultural monuments. Among these emerging fields, golf tourism is quickly gaining traction.
Obviously golf is an outdoor sport that requires an open-air setting; it cannot be played in covered or sheltered areas. Moreover, golf is a high-quality tourist product that appeals to both players and affluent spectators, while being eco-friendly. Greece’s unique climate, marked by mild winters and abundant sunshine, positions the country to become a leading global destination for golf enthusiasts.
Golf in Greece
At the moment, Greece has 5 destinations, with a total of 9 golf courses.
Covering an area of approximately 530 acres within a natural pine forest, lies one of the most beautiful golf courses in Europe. The Glyfada Golf Course “Konstantinos Karamanlis” is just a stone’s throw away from the center of Athens. It features 18 holes and includes a café, restaurant, private rooms, training fields, locker rooms, and a sports store. Additionally, there are two tennis courts, and within the forest, you will find the picturesque chapel of Saint Demetrius.
The Porto Carras Grand Resort is home to an internationally acclaimed 18-hole golf course, spread across 450 acres. Established in 1974, it was renovated in 2002 and again in 2021. It is the largest in northern Greece, featuring lakes as obstacles, as well as pine and olive trees that make the game exciting.
The 18-hole Corfu Golf Club began operating in 1971 in the beautiful Ropa Valley and is considered one of the best championship courses in Europe – specifically, Golf Monthly Magazine has described it as “one of golf’s best-kept secrets.” It has been renovated several times since 2000, but its most significant makeover was in 2021, as part of the celebrations marking its 50th anniversary.
In the Peloponnese
Nestled in the region of Messinia, the splendid Costa Navarino hotel complex boasts four 18-hole golf courses, which have significantly elevated Greece’s presence on the international sports map, attracting visitors throughout the year.
The Dunes Course is a remarkable coastal course, offering stunning vistas of the sea and the Neda River, situated amid a captivating setting of verdant olive groves, rolling grass, and expansive fairways. The Bay Course provides a memorable alternative experience, set in a contrasting landscape that showcases the dramatic interplay between sea and mountain. The International Olympic Academy course affords views of the historic Navarino Bay and the Ionian Sea, accompanied by unforgettable sunsets, while The Hills Course overlooks the pastoral landscape of Messinia, complete with rugged mountains and quaint villages.
Crete is home to two golf courses. One is situated in Elounda, within the 5-star Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort, Six Senses Spa. Offering 9 holes, the course is exclusively available to resort guests and is set in an enchanting environment with first-class amenities, such as luxury yachts, playgrounds for infants and children, rooms with views of Mirabello Bay, and Europe’s first Six Senses Spa – a sprawling 2,200 sq.m. facility featuring holistic treatments, a heated indoor freshwater pool, sauna, and steam bath.
The other course, the 18-hole Crete Golf Club in Hersonissos, has recently undergone renovations to establish itself as one of Europe’s premier golf resorts. Hosting international tournaments within the picturesque natural surroundings of the Cretan countryside, the course is immersed in a sunlit landscape adjacent to the Water Park and cooled by gentle breezes from the nearby hills.
A growing and lucrative form of tourism
Greece’s unparalleled natural beauty, diverse landscapes, convenient distances, and abundant cultural heritage make it an exceptional destination for golf enthusiasts. In addition, the country’s luxury hotel offerings and rich culinary scene perfectly enhance the travel experience for those passionate about the sport.
Golf tourism is gaining recognition as a growing and profitable global market. A substantial number of affluent travelers now select vacation destinations with golf as a primary consideration, driving the expansion of golf-related activities in numerous countries worldwide. It’s crucial to recognize, however, that golf investments typically involve considerable initial outlay and ongoing maintenance costs, making them long-term ventures. Despite these challenges, golf tourism remains an enticing investment opportunity for those capable of shouldering the associated costs.
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