Greece is making a move to climb higher on the European golfing circuit, dominated in the Mediterranean region by Spain, by handing over the north Afantou course on the island of Rhodes to a private investor.
The country’s privatizations office, HRADF, has completed the transfer of the property’s ownership in Rhodes for 27 million euros to M.A. Aggeliades Hellas, a company expected to team up with one of Greece’s largest resorts operators to develop the site.
Located on a coastal property stretching over 1,328 square meters, the development includes a tourism-leisure area, as well as the creation of a residential-touristic village that will promote environmental zones and natural landscape. Apart from the construction of a five-star hotel, the investment is also likely to include the sale of luxury residences overlooking the golf course.
Investment in golf has been increasing in recent years, with several new projects in the pipeline.
In February, the Costa Navarino group in Messinia, south-west Greece, is expected to open two new golf courses, created by the design firm of double Masters champion José María Olazábal. The 6,961-yard International Olympic Academy course and the 6,867-yard Hills course – which will both be part of the Navarino Hills development at Costa Navarino – join layouts by European Golf Design and Robert Trent Jones II to give the resort a total of four courses.
Another large project is being planned for Fokida, central Greece, near the area of Delphi. With a budget of 300 million euros, the Delphi Golf Resort is expected to be built by Scorpios Construction that will include a 36-hole golf course, a 5-star 300-room hotel, conference and leisure venues, and a wellness village, among other facilities. Landscaping will include artificial lakes and trees. The project is estimated to create some 1,500 jobs.
Although the popularity of the sport has been waning globally in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest due to the pandemic given that it is an outdoor activity that allows participants to keep a safe distance from each other.
Golf is not a popular sport in Greece, like in other southern European countries, but plays a big role in the country's crucial tourism industry.
Every year, golf is estimated to contribute around 15.1 billion euros a year to the European economy, and around 1.5 billion euros to Europe's tourism economy. There are currently 6,000 golf courses in Europe.