Cyprus is quickly becoming a European golfers paradise. With an agreeable climate and an almost endless summer, its picture-perfect landscapes make it an obvious choice for golf enthusiasts. The appeal of this Mediterranean island as a golf destination is starting to skyrocket with the recent opening of Elea Estate, the latest addition to the country’s group of stunning courses.
Having only ever larked around a crazy golf course, I was more than a little nervous about beginning my golfing odyssey in Cyprus. Wasn’t golf all flat caps and red-faced, middle-aged men? There must be something in this leisurely sport that gets people hooked and swallows them up for whole days at a time, so I decided to embrace all that golf had to offer with an open mind.
The sport’s rep has suffered in the past and golf is still struggling with diversity; in 2014 just two percent of English pro golfers were from ethnic minorities. It seems it’s high time that golf opened its arms to more than the traditional audience and instead aimed to attract a wider and more diverse range of players. But maybe it’s us that’s not giving golf a chance, so I went out to discover the sport and all it had to offer with four golf aficionados in the beautiful land of Cyprus.
I couldn’t think of a better time and place to learn than spring in Cyprus. We visited three golf courses, all based in and around the city of Paphos and each charming in their own way.
The first was Elea Estate, which rated most highly for me in terms of the clubhouse. There was a beautiful terrace from which you can see the entire golf course and enjoy a lunch after finishing your 18 holes. The view from the driving range was also stunning. With the ocean in the far background and the grassy terrain spread out ahead of you, hitting (or trying to hit) golf balls into the distance was great fun.
Secret Valley was the second course we visited, where we practiced on the putting green, holding mini tournaments. Here the aim was accuracy and precision, a contrast to the power required for the tee shot. After many more shots on the driving range, my form was certainly improving and I started to understand why people really loved the sport. The course is set in a scenic valley surrounded by rugged rock formations and tall forestry. Soon to open a floodlight three-hole course for after dark golfing, this course is great for beginners as they have plenty of space for practicing without any of the pressure.
It was in Aphrodite Hills golf course that our teacher Adam showed me how to really swing a club. He watched on encouragingly as I learned to twist my hips and turn into the swing to get the tiny white ball travelling some distance. By the end of our lesson I was hitting more balls than I was missing. Result. We cruised round the course on a buggy taking in the beautiful views. Aphrodite, for me, was the most stunning with landscape views encompassing the deep blue ocean, the lurid green of the grass and the pale yellow pits of the bunkers. They also have a great golf academy where you can take either individual or group lessons.
One aspect which makes golfing in Cyprus so enjoyable is that all of its four courses are situated in and around Paphos which means they are all in easy reach of each other. Unfortunately we didn’t make the fourth golf course in Cyprus, Minthis Hills as we had to leave time for all the essential eating, spa visiting and boat trips we had to do.
Really my journey in learning how to play golf was only just beginning but are some things I learnt so far:
Golf is tricky
Driving around on a golf buggy is really great fun
Hanging around in the club house drinking wine, also great fun
There are many rules about what you can wear
There are many rules, full stop
There are too many rules so it’s ok to make up your own (that may not be true)
There is a lot of golf etiquette that should be observed
Golf is a way of life for some people
Young people play golf too
It’s a lot more physical than I originally thought
It’s a super sociable sport
Golf is REALLY FUN!
Some useful golf lingo:
Handicap – not in fact an offensive, un-PC term but a figure to describe how good you are at golf. Low is good so if you’re inventing a score go for early teens
Half-way house – not somewhere you stay on immediate release from prison or rehab but in fact a nice pit-stop half way round the golf course where you can stock up on beers and bacon sandwiches.
Bunker – not an underground war defense building but a pit of sand (with potentially a magnetic field that pulls in your golf balls). The rake is there for a reason; if your ball lands in the pit, be polite and rake it up afterwards.
Driver – not a person who drives you around the course (unfortunately) but a type of golf club that you use to tee-off with (the extra large one, in case you’re wondering.)
So perhaps I’ll approach golf as I approached cycling; as a fair-weather partaker. With good company and the warm glow of the sun, playing golf is a really nice way to spend a day. Cyprus is an exceptional place to indulge in a golfing trip and with four fantastic courses, it’s an obvious choice for both beginners and experts alike.
For more information on visiting Cyprus see: www.visitcyprus.com