I can say with some confidence that Korineum is the finest golf resort in North Cyprus.
That’s because it is the original, and to date only, specimen of its type on the Turkish side of the Mediterranean island.
Sun-kissed Cyprus is the most delightful place to holiday all year round, but when it really stands out from the crowd is during the European winter, when it is just about the nearest destination from home that offers guaranteed warmth and sunshine.
Flights into Ercan, just outside the capital of Nicosia, go via Istanbul. Alternatively, you can fly direct into Larnaca, in the south of the island, that’s the Greek side, and still be at Korineum within a two-hour drive.
Either way, you are looking at four-and-a-half hours flight time – obviously plus the transfer time if you are going via Istanbul.
The intimate Korineum Golf & Country Club is located on the north coast, which means you look out to sea towards Turkey, which is some 60 miles away.
A pipeline has just been completed that serves water straight from the Turkish mountains in the south under the sea and into Cypriot reservoirs. That’s handy because there is so little rain on the island. In fact, in the week we spent there, we barely saw as much as a cloud.
Such are the challenges that face an island nation. Cyprus has enjoyed a rich history, which makes it a fascinating place to visit for those of an inquisitive mind.
You can enjoy a wander around the ancient port of Kyrenia, whose castle still stands proudly above the harbour. Or check out the ghost town of Famagusta, whose 15th-century Venetian walls and 14th-century cathedral stand proudly to this day. Up until the 1970s and the beginning of partitioned Cyprus, which sees half the island under Turkish control and half under the Greeks, this was a tourist hotspot and a millionaire’s playground.
Alternatively, and entirely understandably, you might find it difficult to stray far beyond the confines of the resort, which sits at the foot of the hills rising out of the sea.
I say stray far, because a shuttle bus takes guests the short distance to the resort’s private beach club, complete with bar and restaurant. It’s an understandably popular spot to while away those hot Cypriot afternoons.
The boutique accommodation comes in the form of 82 rooms in apartment blocks. All are within a short walk of the swimming pool, bar, restaurant and clubhouse.
This is the beauty of Korineum – all you need is close at hand.
That includes exceptionally good practice facilities. It was quickly established that wintering groups of – especially Scandinavian – golfers would want to come here to work on their games in the sunshine under the careful eye of their professional. Korineum is ideally set up for such holidays.
As for the course itself, it was designed by David Hemstock and opened in 2006.
Both nines begin and end in front of the clubhouse, initially climbing away from the resort to offer sea views. Off the back tees it stretches to almost 6,900 yards but you won’t need to go anywhere near those markers to appreciate the challenge the course presents thanks to the often-dramatic changes in elevation and subtle changes of direction.
A few words of warning – even allowing for the fact I was using a set of hire clubs without so much as a practice swing due to our early start, the opening hole is nothing short of brutally difficult. It plays at least 50 yards longer than its yardage. The green is cut into the hillside and fronted by bunkers so even if you are not blocked out by encroaching trees – and I was – it is quite a task to find the putting surface.
Fortunately, you immediately turn 180˚ to play the 2nd which is an altogether more appealing prospect – a flatteringly downhill par 5.
Highlights include the par-3 4th, with its dramatic tee shot across a chasm, and the sweeping 5th, which goes down and then round to a distant green.
A refreshing drink will set you up for the back nine, which features a par of attractive short holes and perhaps does not quite possess quite the same levels of card-wrecking potential.
It is a most pleasant place to play and beautifully presented by the Scottish head greenkeeper. Interestingly, the course, and indeed the entire resort, is currently irrigated using desalinated sea water.
At Korineum, most guests stay on a half-board basis, taking advantage of the sumptuous buffet breakfasts and evening meals.
Fresh fruit, salads and greens are prominent ingredients – but it is hard to resist those Turkish meatballs, not to mention an array of cheeses and locally caught fish. Many dishes are cooked in oil from the olive trees on site.
As for the desserts – well, if you can walk past without indulging yourself then you must be wearing blinkers.
While Korineum is set up primarily with mature golfers in mind, there is plenty of entertainment for both non-golfers and families alike.
Facilities include a spa, tennis courts and pool tables.
Korineum’s staff are incredibly friendly and whether you want to hire a car or be picked up by a coach, there is no shortage of activities.
For example, we were lucky enough to watch baby turtles being released into the sea at Akdeniz on the west coast in the shadow of the Troodos Mountains.
Cyprus is a special place – and Korineum is a one-off in every sense.
Hit the spa
Energise your body, stimulate your mind and calm your spirit at Korineum’s Spa & Wellness Centre. The boutique spa comprises two massage rooms, a jacuzzi, sauna and resting areas – it’s the perfect spot to explore tranquility.
All Ercan flights include free carriage of a golf bag, as do some but not all flights into Larnaca. Alternatively, Korineum offer top-quality TaylorMade rental sets.
Holidays to Korineum in December and January currently start from £499 for seven nights. That includes return flights from Stansted with 20kg of luggage and a golf bag, accommodation in a luxurious Residence room, four rounds with confirmed tee times, breakfast and evening meals and transfers to and from Ercan Airport.
For a little extra, flights are also available from Gatwick, Liverpool and Manchester with Turkish Airlines.
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