Developed by the Split-based Profectus Grupa and dubbed The Croatian Dream, this sprawling 5000-hectare master-planned “city” will ultimately include multiple hotels, a casino, two marinas, a business park, film studio, exhibition space, airport, university campus, hospital, theme park, sports arenas, recreation areas, museums, a vineyard, and five golf courses.
The first, designed by Hills & Forrest (www.hillsforrest.com) on a seaside parcel called The Three Sisters, is scheduled to break ground later this year, 20 km north of Dubrovnik.
“We are delighted to confirm, given their great successes in Sweden, Portugal and elsewhere, that Hills & Forrest is designing our first golf course,” said Vicenco Blagaic, CEO of Profectus Grupa, who noted that while a significant portion of Croatian Dream’s ambitious plans remain in conceptual design, construction of Three Sisters course will indeed begin in 2011. “We are confident the skills and track record of Hills & Forrest, in combination with a stunning piece of coastal property, will produce one of the finest new courses in continental Europe.”
Blagaic referred specifically to several recent Hills & Forrest designs that embolden him to make such a claim: 10-year-old Oitavos Dunes in Cascais, Portugal, frequent host to the Portuguese Open and recently ranked #88 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World; and Hills & Forrest’s three Swedish layouts — Hills GC in Gothenburg, Vasatorp’s Tournament Course in Helsingborg, and Sand Golf Club in Jönköping, a three-year-old layout already named to Golf Digest’s listing of the Top 100 Courses Outside the U.S.
Since its founding in 1966, Hills & Forrest are responsible for more than 200 original course designs on four continents. Hills & Forrest principal Steve Forrest, the man responsible for all three Swedish designs, will direct the as yet unnamed design in Croatia.
“I don’t anticipate any shortage of evocative name options for this project, as it is perched along a dramatically elevated, rocky coastline, where each hole will feature beautiful views of the water,” said Forrest, who served as president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 2005-06. “There are particularly dramatic views to the southeast, toward the famed walled city of Dubrovnik, while holes 13 to 16 will offer views up to the hillside town of Ston, which sits at the end of a long fjord-like inlet.
“We have designed a resort-style course that will interest and naturally accommodate the full range of players. We anticipate the importation of soil and sand to make these rocky plateaus effective hosts to healthy turfgrass. But that effort will be well worth the trouble.”