European Golf Design - Vision E-Magazine Issue 2 - Spring 2018 - Page 18

Sofia So Good

Detailed design work is now well advanced on what will be EGD’s third course in Bulgaria. This new, 7,000 yard, Par 72 course is part of an ambitious master-planned community being developed by Markan Holdings on the outskirts of Gorni Okol, high in the mountains, some 45 minutes to the south of Sofia. The Okol development shall include several hundred residences alongside a new village hub, hotel and conference centre, with an emphasis on sustainable building methods and renewable energy provision.

Central to the development site is the magnificent hilltop ridgeline upon which the golf course has been laid out. The course sits 1000 feet above and enjoys stunning views of Iskar, Bulgaria’s largest lake and the distant Rila Mountains, including the famous ski resort of Borovets. A true alpine meadow, the Okol golf course is strewn with many impressive Granitic Tors, through which the layout weaves. Despite the high elevation, the golf course is moderately contoured and has mostly been laid out at existing grades.

EGD's project architect Robin Hiseman explains more. “Okol is one of the prettiest development sites I have ever seen. Our vision is for a golf course that sits lightly upon the existing terrain. We shall be moving far less earth here than is common these days, simply because the existing terrain is so perfectly suitable. We have plotted a layout which works its way around the highland plateau in a logical and fascinating manner, discovering and encountering along the way all of the interesting and unusual landforms which make this site unique. We are mindful that golf in Bulgaria is an emerging sport and the degree of difficulty presented is appropriate to the desire to grow enthusiasm for the sport. We have secreted a number of back tees into the layout, which will make it a true test for the elite golfer, but our priority is to make the course fun rather than difficult. The scenery is just stunning and we shall do our utmost to preserve the natural, existing character.”

A construction start date is yet to be announced, but all facets of the Okol project are in active development.