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|The eighth is almost certainly the prettiest hole at Aphrodite Hills, with the green set against the blue sea and clinging to a cliff. (Clive Agran/WorldGolf.com)|
Now part of an impressive resort with a five-star hotel, luxury villas, spa, tennis courts and numerous other sports' facilities, it first opened its fairways back in 2002. Although the course hasn't changed since then, the resort has flourished and expanded and is now rightly regarded as one of the best vacation destinations on the island.
Designer Cabell Robinson must have wrestled with a few problems when trying to decide on his layout. Although he doubtless relished the elevation, of which there is plenty, the site rather awkwardly bestrides two plateaux. A deep gorge lies between them and Robinson must have confronted an invigorating mix of problems and challenges.
Beautifully presented, the Aphrodite Hills golf course was in superb condition when I visited it in early spring at what is generally regarded as an awkward time before the grass really gets going. The lush Bermuda fairways looked and played a treat, the greens, which are much bigger than average, were true and quick and the general appearance of everything from the flowerbeds upwards was first class.
My only serious criticism is that you have to take a buggy which, for those of us who like to walk, is a pain. However, with several long drives to the next tee and some perilous descents and steep climbs, there really is no alternative.
There are four sets of tees on every hole - two for men and two for women.
The holes are mostly wide open with generous fairways and a few well-sited bunkers to make things just a tad trickier. The most spectacular tee is often missed. On the rather long trip from the second to the third, you will pass what looks like a green ledge on the side of the gorge. If you feel confident that you can thump your drive at least 220 yards - for that is the distance you have to carry it over the gorge - you should have a crack at it. The overwhelming majority, however, tee it up on the other side and thus reduce the hole from a 620-yard par five to a 450-yard par four and miss out on a true thrill.
Unless you are a woman, there is no ducking out of the second crossing of the canyon at the signature seventh hole. Although only a modest par 3 of roughly 140 yards off the regular men's tee, anything landing short of the green will never be seen again. A word of warning. Unpleasant snakes lurk in the really inhospitable rocky areas, such as the gorge. So no matter how new or attached to it you've become during the course of the round, don't be tempted to retrieve a ball out of the serious rocks.
The eighth is almost certainly the prettiest hole on the Aphrodite Hills course with the green set against the blue sea and clinging to a cliff. With a chasm to your left and bunkers protecting the right side, it is best to lay up with an iron or fairway wood off the tee.
The finish is a strong one with the toughest par four on the golf course, the 16th, followed by a tricky par 3 and then a splendid par-5 closing hole with a well protected green squeezed between a lake and two bunkers. If you struggle here, there will doubtless be dozens smugly sipping beer and watching you suffer from the comfort of the clubhouse.
Don't worry, you will soon be joining them after what is sure to have been a memorable round on a truly glorious golf course. Aphrodite is the goddess of love and you will almost certainly fall under her spell and in love with Aphrodite Hills.
April 22, 2009
Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses. Follow Clive on Twitter at @cliveagran.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang is a romantic, classic Western-style getaway amid the wine lovers' setting of California's central coast. And there's some great golf, too, with 36 holes of diverse play on site for both the public and resort guests.
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