With the 2014 golfing season kicking in, the Masters around the corner, it’s time to dust your clubs and get back into the game, and with the world as your oyster, why not hit a round in Croatia? Croatia may be one of Europe’s lesser-developed golf destinations however, that doesn’t make it any less precious. Croatia’s oldest golf course dates back to 1922 and there are several projects on the drawing board along the coast. From five-star seaside resorts to city breaks, mesh courses to island golf, Croatia certainly provides vastly different golf experiences incomparable to anywhere else. Let’s play a few rounds in Croatia!
1. Brijuni Golf
Just of Istria’s western coast in North Croatia floats 14 gems forming the Brijuni islands. These pristine islets are a national park and legend says that angels created this “heaven on earth” and therefore, the archipelago are referred to as such. The Brijuni islands has been a favored holiday destination since time can remember, particularly frequented by the Habsburg Monarchy, and thus a course was built in 1922, later enjoyed by former president Tito who had residence there from 1954 to1979. Playing this 18-hole, par 71 course with sand greens takes you back in time, and especially brings you closer to nature, with deer, mouflon, rabbits and peacocks keeping you company during your round. After an easy round on the Brijuni course, discover dinosaur footprints, Roman residences, ancient olive trees, hydro-archeological sites, forts and churches also found in the archipelago.
2. Adriatic Golf Club, Istria
On the mainland of the Istrian peninsula lays Croatia’s newest course, opened in 2009 as part of a five-star resort. This 18-hole, par 72 course merges with the stunning Adriatic landscapes, with ponds and Mediterranean flora as natural hazards and vineyards, sea views, olive groves, and the characteristic Istrian red-earth dotting the panoramas. Before teeing off on this award-winning championship course designed by Diethard Fahrenleitner and Barbara Eisserer, flavor the region’s perfected Malvazija Istriana wines, olive oils, and Motuvun truffles with a culinary trip of the peninsula.
3. Golf Klub Split 1700
Just 4 miles south of the 1700-year old Roman palace in Split is Croatia’s southern-most golf course. This little course usually stays off the tourism map, as it doesn’t really fall into any golf-course category. The course in Split is a mesh course where a bunch of enthu-cutlets make do with the land they have; just six holes which merges into a driving range, a donkey on hole two, and Frida and Floki the dogs keeping you company during your round. The course in Split is a great little pit stop on your Dalmatian vacation and you can hire an ancient set in the makeshift clubhouse, enjoy a round without a tee-time reservation, no dress-code, just pure Dalmatian, easy-going, no-frills golf.
4. Golf & Country Club Zagreb
After experience three coastal golf spots, it’s time for a city break in the country’s capital, Zagreb. Zagreb is an enchanting city with a heap of urban and historic attractions, and after strolling though the cobbled lanes of Gornji Grad, you can escape the city buzz to Golf & Country Club Zagreb, just 15 minutes from the city center. The challenging 18-hole, par 72 Championship course is dotted with 11 lakes and the shorter 9-hole, par 30 Executive course features grass bunkers and a forest, providing challenging play for experienced golfers and beginners alike. The club has two clubhouses, one with views over the 18th green and with other with grill restaurant facing the driving range and golf academy.
5. Sveti Martin Golf Course
In the Croatian hinterland of Međumurje in Northen Croatia you can play golf 24/7, all year around, indoors or outdoors, whatever tickles your fancy. As part of a spa resort, you can unwind and play golf in between on one of Europe’s few flood-lit courses across its 9-hole holes, with heated greens. If it’s too cold outside, the facilities has an indoor simulator featuring more than 36 world class courses, so you can play in Mallorca, California, China, wherever, in the comfort of the Međumurje indoors. Golf aside, Međumurje knocks out some of Croatia’s most prized wines so do not forget to go winery hopping with culinary treats in between.
From indoor simulators, no-frills golf, national park course and championship courses, the Croatian golf scene will undoubtedly keep you entertained in between your discoveries.
Which golf course will you play when you come for a visit?