Robin Hiseman, OKOL Lake Park’s Golf Architect, visited the construction site in Bulgaria for the first time since the ground-breaking event, which took place in August.
Surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and offering spectacular views to the Iskar Lake and Rila Mountain, OKOL Lake Park will set new standards in the region.
In an exclusive interview, Robin Hiseman talks about the project and his vision for the European Golf Design championship course.
GBN: You have been working on OKOL’s layout for some time now. How does it feel to be onsite after the much-awaited ground-breaking ceremony?
Robin Hiseman: It’s a mixture of relief and excitement. Relief for the fact that all of that hard work is going to be realised and excitement for the creative process ahead. I’ve got the vision in my mind’s eye and I can’t wait to get out there and make that vision real for everybody else.
GBN: Residential sales have been very successful since the project launch. In terms of golf, what can future residents expect from the European Golf Design course?
RH: They can expect a course that will sit lightly on the terrain. Much of it will play over existing levels. We think it’s going to be the kind of course that will be easy to like, because it will be soft on the eye. We’re not setting out to be intimidating with the architecture. It is likely that the majority of people who buy residences in Okol will not be golfers, so this huge landscape area devoted to golf has to function for them as a backdrop to their new home on the mountain top. We hope they will be taking evening strolls through the course to take in the incredible scenery.
GBN: OKOL has partnered with multiple international companies such as European Golf Design, IMG and Accor Hotels. How do you think these partners can contribute to the project’s successful development?
RH: By bringing our combined experiences of delivering exceptional quality and implementing these procedures on this majorly significant development for both Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. It is a virtuous circle that we can deliver. If each of our components is top quality, that will help the others and the wider reputation and viability of the project.
GBN: OKOL’s championship golf course will also be able to host international events in future. In your view, what are the venue’s most spectacular features?
RH: Without doubt it’s the scenery and the magnificent panoramic views! We’ll do our best to complement them architecturally with a course full of variety and fun. Within the course, it’s the numerous granitic outcrops that really grab your attention. Not many courses have so much exposed rock on them and we take the golfer close to these Tors whenever we can. It’s hard to pick a ‘best’ hole before we’ve built any, but I think the 12th is going to be hard to beat. It’s one of our longer par 4’s, but features a classic risk and reward drive over a deep, wooded ravine to a diagonal fairway, before curving the other way to a large green nestled into a small hill topped with rocks. It’s all in view from the tee, with Iskar Lake far below as a backdrop. It was the first hole to be fixed on our plan, is entirely natural and I think it will be a gem.
For more information, please visit https://okollakepark.bg/en/
Featuring a championship golf course designed by European Golf Design and managed by IMG, the 5-star 149 room Pullman hotel and branded residences managed by Accor has a luxury spa, extensive event facilities and an array of residential opportunities, OKOL Lake Park is located just 30 km southeast of Sofia and 25 km from Borovets, Bulgaria’s largest ski resort
IMG Golf Course Services is a global leader in the development, marketing and management of world class golf courses. For more than 25 years, the group has set the standard for excellence in golf club management. IMG’s golf course services team currently provides a diverse range of management and marketing services to more than 20 award winning clubs and resorts.
European Golf Design was established in 1992 as a Joint Venture between the European Tour and IMG. The company has earned a reputation for producing successful resort, members and tournament golf courses, on schedule and within budget.