Next week Slovenia will host the 2018 International Golf Travel Market show for the first time, with the spotlight inevitably falling on the golf courses designed and renovated by Swan Golf Designs (SGD).
Slovenia has just thirteen golf courses but is perfectly placed to become a major golfing destination due to its unique combination of central European location, alpine scenery and Mediterranean summer climate. Of those thirteen courses it is the two SGD designs that top the rankings, with Royal Bled leading the way ahead of Grad Otocec.
Grad Otocec, designed by Howard Swan and opened for play in 2005, is set within the rolling hills and pine forests of the Dolenjska region roughly halfway between Ljubljana and Zagreb. The par-72 course measures 6189 metres (6768 yards) and derives much of its challenge from the undulating terrain over which the holes flow. Highlights of the round include the par-3 5th hole played across a deep valley and the par-5 7th which cuts its way through the pines at the highest point of the course.
The Kings Course at Royal Bled, Slovenia’s oldest course and unquestionably its no.1, was extensively redesigned and rebuilt under the direction of Swan Golf Designs between 2015 and 2017. Whilst the basic routeing of the course is largely unchanged, the redesign project included new greens, tees and bunkering, ten new lakes, new state-of-the-art practice facilities and extensive woodland management to re-establish its alpine character landscape. The overriding objective was to restore the design and condition of the course to a true international standard, with a focus on creating a layout which could accommodate professional and amateur tournament whilst still proving enjoyable to play for visitors. From the back tees the course now measures over 6600m (7200 yards), although a series of forward tees make the course playable for golfers of all abilities.
The new course was opened in August 2017 with the first shot being played by HRH Princess Jelisaveta Karadordevic, re-establishing the link to the Yugoslav royal family who were responsible for bringing golf to Bled in 1937.
The Swan family has been a significant player in the golf industry for almost 50 years and now works throughout the UK, Europe and Asia, creating new courses and renovating existing layouts to meet the demands of the modern game.
Swan Golf Designs www.swangolfdesigns.com
Royal Bled www.royalbled.com
Grad Otocec www.golf-otocec.si