Bulgaria is as one of the world’s most exciting, culturally diverse and entirely unmissable golf holiday hot spots. Strictly speaking, golf in the Balkan republic is split into two main areas: Cape Kaliakra and Sofia.
The latter, of course, is the capital of Bulgaria and is, in its own right, a very popular short break destination. Sitting at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country, there is much to see and do in Sofia. Best of all, you can enjoy three or four nights there without burning a hole in your pocket.
Currently, it is home to three fine courses, of which St Sofia is one. It first opened in 2004 and later the same year staged the first-ever Bulgarian Amateur. Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley later carried out a redesign and, in May 2012, it reopened to great acclaim.
The Peter Harradine-designed Pravets layout is only 40 minutes from Sofia and forms part of the superb Pravets Golf & SPA Resort, whilst Pirin Golf - set against the backdrop of the towering Pirin Mountains - was designed by former Masters champion Ian Woosnam and, like Pravets, is part of an exceptional wider resort.
Meanwhile, Cape Kaliakra, offers a different, but equally enjoyable test. A long, narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region, it sits up against the Black Sea Coast and is characterised by steep, rugged, vertical cliffs. What’s more, with Varna airport just 45 minutes’ drive from the heart of the region and, with a new flight operating there from Glasgow, it’s easy to reach.
Thracian Cliffs is, by some distance, the most famous of the three great courses here. Designed by nine-time major winner Gary Player, it was named the European ‘Golf Resort of the Year’ in 2014 and hosted Bulgaria’s first-ever European Tour event when it staged the 2013 Volvo World Matchplay Championship. It has been described by some as ‘Europe’s Pebble Beach’ and one look at its stunning cliff-top location is all you need to know that’s no exaggeration.
Another Gary Player course awaits visitors to BlackSeaRama. Named the world’s ‘Best New Course’ by a top US golf magazine in 2009, its sea views are truly majestic, whilst the on-site accommodation, dining and leisure facilities complete a superb experience.
Last but by no means least is the Lighthouse Golf & Spa Resort. Its course was also designed by Ian Woosnam and is a fine example of a modern championship links.
With all of this, and much more besides, no wonder Bulgaria is causing such a stir.