Played by NCG: Secret ValleyNovember 7, 2017 Courses and Travel
Tony Jacklin's hidden masterpiece is the most demanding and thought-provoking collection of holes in Cyprus, writes James Broadhurst
Reason for a Secret Valley Golf Club review
I was invited to play Secret Valley as part of a press tour of Cyprus.
Where is Secret Valley Golf Club?
Secret Valley, which opened for play in 1996, can be found in Kouklia on Cyprus’ southern coast, around 20 minutes from the popular city of Paphos.
The course is tucked away in the middle of a narrow valley next to the impressive Aphrodite Hills golf resort.
What to expect
The clue for what to expect is very much in the title.
The course is secret by name, secret by nature – hidden greens, hidden pins, hidden bunkers and all kinds of hidden delights.
Four-time Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin helped create what is, for me, the most demanding and thought-provoking collection of holes in Cyprus.
Little streams dotted throughout, elevated tees and undulating terrain are the three features that stuck in my mind when thinking of Secret Valley.
The most dramatic (and I would argue most enjoyable) stretch is on the 11th and 12th holes. Both of these par 4s play close to a huge lake and the result is breathtaking.
The 12th was my favourite. It’s a hole that demands careful placement of your shot from the tee as long hitters can be caught out by the stream cutting across the fairway in front of the green. It’s this kind of theatre that makes Secret Valley an unforgettable experience.
My best bit
I have never pencilled in an eagle on my scorecard before and I came agonisingly close on the par-4 15th.
It’s a long, steep walk up to the tee box (tip: don’t be stupid like me, get a buggie) and you’re faced with a shot back down the hill with scrubland all down the left-hand side.
I plonked my tee shot in the middle of the fairway and then, in what is rare occurrence for me, I hit the green with my second shot, finding the narrow gap between the trees and pitching my ball right in front of the flag.
Unfortunately, it zipped past to about five foot and then I proceeded to miss the birdie putt.
What to look out for
Just soak up the whole setting. I had never played a course like this before and I loved the new experience.
It feels like an American-style desert course with the rocky scubland and imposing mountains dotted around the landscape.
The front nine is a real challenge; it’s seriously hilly and often difficult to know where the pin is positioned as you approach many of your second shots.
When I go back
I will utilise a bit more of my course management skills. I will keep the driver in my bag for several holes on the front nine in an attempt to give myself a chance of scoring by keeping it in play.
I am also desperate for another crack at an eagle on the 15th, though I suspect my wait would go on.