Seeing green THE number of golf courses of Bulgaria will soon be almost double in number. With greens designed by Ian Woosnam, 2006 captain of the European Ryder Cup, two new resorts will start welcoming players in late 2008, it was announced at a November 1 news conference at the Grand Hotel Sofia. The Pirin Golf Holidays Club will be located in the Razlog Valley at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, just three km from the ski resort of Bansko. The “holiday village” will include a hotel complex, spa and sports centres, villas, shops, a horse-riding centre and a professional 18-hole, par 72 golf course. Views of the Black Sea coast will complement the Lighthouse Gold Resort in Balchik, also to be built in conjunction with luxury residential areas. It, too, will include a hotel complex, spa and sports centres, restaurants, houses, a horse-riding centre, and an 18-hole, par 72 golf course. Both resorts, which are funded by Bulgaria’s Balkanstroy and Barage & Co, will incorporate various-themed permanent upscale residential districts. World golf champ Woosnam – whose Ian Woosnam Design has also designed the greens at the Dale Hill Golf Club in England, and at resorts in Tarascovo, Russia and Jin Ying, China, among others – said that he was deeply impressed by the clubs. “I’ve done a few golf courses in different parts of the world,” he told the news conference, “but I’ll have to say this is the most impressive that I’ve seen”. Regarding the greens design itself, he said: “It’s very important to try and use the nature, the trees, to try and put them back into the golf course,” noting that his job was only to design the course. “I leave the clubhouses to the experts,” he said, referring to Georgi Chuklev of Barage & Co, who is also vice-president of the Bulgarian Golf Association, and Nikolay Kaloyanov, executive director of Balkanstroy, both of whom attended the news conference. The two companies’ investments for the 120 000 sq m facilities total about 118 million euro – 62 million for the Pirin club and 56 million for the Lighthouse resort. Anticipating winning courses, Woosnam hopes for them to produce a lot of tourism and work coming in to Bulgaria. “I like to have all players of any standard play the golf course,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a beginner playing golf or a professional. Age doesn’t matter. We just want people to enjoy it.”
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