Golf Course Architecture - Issue 60, April 2020

Photo: GCA/Adam Lawrence N o-one could accuse the Constantakopoulos family, developers of Costa Navarino in Greece, of a lack of ambition. Even after the first phase of the Navarino project added two eighteens, Greece still had only seven full-sized golf courses (and one nine-holer). Add to that the brutal economic depression that hit the country after the turmoil of 2008, forcing successive governments to go to the IMF in search of bailout funds and resulting in GDP shrinking by a third, and the sheer scale of the Navarino blueprint is quite awesome. Sure, progress with the development has been slower than the developers reckoned would be the case back in 2010, but that’s hardly a criticism. Family patriarch Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos, who died in 2011, had been acquiring land in his home region of Messenia for twenty years and more, ultimately getting hold of more than 1,000 hectares in four separate parcels – involving over 1,000 individual transactions. One of those parcels, called Navarino Dunes, is basically developed, except for a real estate component which is now being built alongside the Romanos and Westin hotels and the Dunes course, designed by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design (and signed by Bernhard Langer). The second, Navarino Bay, has had golf, designed by the firm of Robert Trent Jones II, for some years, but has only now got its spectacular clubhouse. A hotel building is currently under way, both on the Bay site itself and next door at Navarino Waterfront, where a marina and town centre are under construction. The fourth parcel, tentatively named Navarino Blue, and several miles to the south, near the regional capital of Kalamata, is still one for the future. But the third, and largest piece of land, Navarino Hills, is what we are primarily concerned with here. The Hills site lies above the Navarino Bay development, with stunning views of the Bay course and the Bay of Navarino itself. The design firm of double Masters champion José María Olazábal is in charge of the project, which involves two courses, currently with working titles of West and East, being built simultaneously, though construction of the West course is further advanced than the East. A third large reservoir, this one capable of holding 500,000 cubic metres of water, is being built as part of the project, and eventually the Hills site will also include villas and a small ‘eco-retreat’ hotel. Construction has been on the go for more than a year, but there is still no sign of any grass, and indeed quite a 69