Jack Nicklaus visited Croatia in May for the official signing and announcement of the republic's first Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Croatian government officials including Prime Minister Ivo Sanader attended a contract-signing ceremony in Zagreb to officially launch the relationship between Nicklaus Design and Porto Mariccio Resort, on the western coast of the Istrian Peninsula.
Nicklaus and his design team will bring to life the first integrated resort in Croatia, which will include a luxury hotel with a spa, wellness centre and meeting facilities; a variety of residential offerings totalling more than 460 units; a 350-berth marina; as well as the 18-hole golf course. "This area is beautiful, and has so much untapped potential," said Nicklaus. "We are honoured to be given the opportunity to help unlock that potential and to create a golf destination that will also enhance Croatia's growing tourism industry. The site is ideally located on the Adriatic Sea, and with the combination of the shoreline and the gentle contours of the property, we have a chance to create something special." The Porto Mariccio resort is being developed by real estate-investment firm AB Maris, and will be located between the towns of Rovinj and Pula, near the archipelago of the Brijuni Islands.
Construction of the golf course is expected to start in 2007 for an opening in 2009.
"Five years ago we never dreamed of having the opportunity to develop golf in Croatia," said Tim Kenny, executive vice president at Nicklaus Design. "It's an exciting opportunity for us to continue our efforts to introduce and grow the game in new markets throughout the world." Industry experts have identified Croatia as one of the most rapidly growing tourist destinations in Europe – during the month of April 2006, more than 413,000 tourists visited the Adriatic Coast, a 25 per cent increase over the same month a year ago.