Jose Maria Olazabal's new creation is set to open in 2022. Here he talks about what we can expect.
Navarino Hills - Jose Maria Olazabal's Stunning Project
Navarino Hills in Greece is fast becoming a must play destination within Europe; it was recently named the ‘World’s Best New Golf Development’ at the 2020 World Golf Awards.
The area has drawn so much attention that two-time Masters champion, Jose Maria Olazabal, has returned to Costa Navarino to oversee the rapid development at Navarino Hills.
"I first came to Costa Navarino around six years ago when they were looking for a designer for the two new courses planned at Navarino Hills," said Olazabal.
"My team and I all absolutely love the region here and we put in our very best effort to win the design job. Obviously, we were very happy when Achilles Constantakopoulos (Chairman of Temes, the developers of Costa Navarino) chose us and we are working hard to repay his trust.
"The property is spectacular, the views are breath-taking and the characteristics of the site are wonderful for golf. It surely ranks among the most beautiful properties we ever got the chance to work on.
"Costa Navarino has found an absolute jewel with this property and they are trying to develop it sensibly with great focus on protecting the environment. I am delighted with their approach and we are trying to use all the latest modern techniques to contribute our share to the sustainability goals."
Having developed over 20 courses worldwide, Olazabal is drawing on his vast experience, using the stunning scenery as his canvas to build the two courses.
"For the new designs we have undertaken, it is the land itself that gives you the inspiration. What is important is how the property sits in its surroundings, what features stands out and how we can model the golf course harmoniously into the terrain so that it feels like a natural fit.
"The International Olympic Academy Course has stunning views over Navarino Bay and is the longer and tougher of the two courses. Navarino Hills has a more rural feel and takes you into the outback where you can enjoy a stroll in beautiful nature.
"The holes all have their own little personality but, of course, a few will be talked about more than others. On the International Olympic Academy Course, the 12th and 16th holes are two beautiful but challenging par threes with great views over the bay where I am sure most golfers will stop to take a photo. Holes 10 and 15 will also get some attention.
"On the Navarino Hills course, I would say the sixth hole, a downhill par-five, stands out as well as the stretch from the 14th to the 17th.
"It doesn't matter whether the course is extra tough or easy or long or short, what is important is that golfers have a great time. For that to happen, I think the course has to be fair and also has to fit seamlessly into the surroundings so that it creates this special ambience."
Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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