The minute I think things couldn’t get more interesting around here, I am proved seriously wrong. Every morning I get to the golf course with very little knowledge of what the day will hold. I like working in the mornings; we pull out all the golf carts (ahem… buggys) we’ll need that day and make sure they’re all cleaned and prepped with golf tees and water bottles. The sun is just rising at this time over the mountains and the morning air is perfectly crisp. Most of our tee times are in the morning, as people prefer to avoid the heat of the day. We’re pretty busy at the ‘staging area’ until 9:30 or so.
Sunday, I was checking some of the reservations when I looked up and saw a young boy, dressed in preppy golf attire, standing at our cart shop window.
“Kalimera,” I said, trying to figure out who he was.
He wished me good morning and then started speaking rapidly in Greek. I had no clue what he was saying, but when he pointed in the direction of the driving range and Academy, I realized that today was the day our pro coached the Scholarship kids. There are ten Greek youngsters who were invited by The Captain (the man behind Costa Navarino) to take lessons and learn the game of golf. Nicky (our pro) had asked me earlier in the week if I would help with the teaching clinics and I had readily agreed. More kids began to show up so I grabbed my clubs and joined them at the range. All ten of them showed up (some more promptly than others) and immediately began pounding balls. I could tell by their form that Nicky had been working with them on all the basics. I walked up and down the row, introducing myself and getting to know their names and swings. There are three girls in the group: Artemis, Dimitra, and Konstandia. They were wonderfully enthusiastic about the sport. After a bit of range time, Nicky and I took the kids out to the golf course. I played about three holes with the girls and was so impressed by their attitude. They encouraged each other, took pride in a good shot, shrugged off a bad one, and kept plugging away. At the end of the session, I told them to come back a practice with me during the week. I’m really looking forward to spending more time working with them this summer!
I changed out of my work clothes and into some preppy golf attire for my tee time at 12:20 with Mrs. Pappas. She was visiting the resort for the week and Nicky proposed I help her with her game a bit. We played together on Saturday afternoon and I was thrilled to learn that she was from New York! Mrs. Pappas had set up another tee time for the following afternoon, so here we were, ready to go out on the course again. The wind was vicious, but we did our best and managed to finish the last few holes very strong. She invited me to join her for lunch and we ate salad and fresh fruit at a lovely little poolside restaurant. While we were relaxing after the round, I got a call from my boss (well, one of several bosses), Cesar, asking if I could play with another threesome later that afternoon. Well, that was an easy answer!
Before I headed back to the course, however, Mrs. Pappas gave me a quick tour of the resort property. Now, you have to understand, Costa Navarino is immense. There are two resort properties: the Westin (more family oriented) and the Romanos (the ultimate in luxury). Several of the Pro-Am events had been hosted on the Westin side of things, but I had yet to really explore the Romanos. Mrs. Pappas walked me around the pool, down to the Agora (where most of the restaurants and shops are located), past the open-air breakfast area that literally sits on top of a rock pool, up the marble staircase, past the Anazoe spa, and back to the grand front entryway (where the valet ran to get our… golf cart). Completely amazing.
To finish off my day, I had one last unexpected surprise. The group that I was to be playing golf with that evening consisted of three guys from the American Air Force who were stationed in Kalamata, as part of their tour of the Mediterranean. I was introduced to Brad, Nick, and Steve, and we set off to the first tee. They were totally thrilled to be playing golf on their day off (none of them had had any free time in months). I was tired and they were rusty, so the overall skill level for our group was not very high, but they were enthralled with the course nonetheless. Personally, sunset is my favorite time to play… everything looks photoshopped into perfection. Nick was from Oklahoma and had a great southern accent. Brad rode in my cart and told me about his family, especially his daughter who is a 12-yr-old golf phenom. Steve was off searching in the shrubs for his golf balls most of the time, but always had a big grin on his face. Later, I learned that he was a Colonel.
It was getting dark just after we finished the front nine, but they wanted to try and play a few more. We skipped around the back nine to the holes that I thought they’d enjoy most (12 with its stellar ocean view, 15 with the archaeological excavations, and 18 with its awesome walk up to the clubhouse). By the time we finished up 18, the sun had set and the sky was nearly black. I’m pretty sure the Air Force guys would have continued playing with flashlights if they could.
Unfortunately, having so much fun wears me out. I ended up sleeping 14 hours last night. So glad to finally have a day off. What did I do on my day off, you might ask? What every normal, American would do– I played a round of golf!
*Note: My poor camera just can’t do this golf course justice. I’m going to start posting a few “higher quality” photos for you to enjoy– courtesy of Costa Navarino’s marketing team.