While the quality of the text below may leave something to be desired, the story it tells may strike a chord with those who have been following the seemingly everlasting debates as to whether or not to expend land, resources and water on building golf courses on Crete.
Taken from the Navy and Army Illustrated of 20th (?) February 1899, the article tells the story of the golf course at Suda Bay, Canea.
Described as originally having been laid down by officers from H. M. S. Revenge “…a little over a year ago. Since then succeeding ships have expended time and labour on them, until now a nine-hole course exists that gives a very fair game. Indeed many Naval officers who have played a great deal on both courses declare that much better “gowf” can be had on the Suda Bay links than on the older course at Malta.
“The links are situated some twenty minutes’ walk from the landing place at Suda where a small river discharges its stream at the head of Suda Bay. Here, as shown in the [top] illustration is ‘Giacommenos (?) restaurant…” (Apparently known among British Naval officers as ‘The Sign of the Great Powers.’)
“Here caddies are engaged and a naval officer is, in our illustration, seen solving the difficult question, namely, which of the two caddies offering their services is likely to be the least untrustworthy.”
The Suda Bay course was not unique. While it was apparently in use in 1899 when the photographs were taken, writing in 1915 of his time stationed in Crete in 1906, Captain W. D. Downes of the 2/Sussex Regiment describes a golf course in Candia which had been built by ‘political prisoners.’
The site of the Suda Bay golf course still retains its connection with the British military. Today it is the location of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, containing not only the remains of those British and Allied troops who died on Crete during WW2, but also a small number who died on the island at other times, including during the Intervention period.