A major golf course renovation project has reached completion at Royal Bled in Slovenia.
Led by Swan Golf Designs, the project took three years to complete and included the redesign and reconstruction of all greens, tees and bunkers on the club’s 18-hole King’s Course and nine-hole Lakes Course.
Ten new lakes were added to the course, while a new irrigation system was introduced. A comprehensive practice facility with a double-ended range, two practice chipping and bunker greens, and a 1,000 square metre putting green, was also created.
GCA spoke to William Swan of Swan Golf Designs to get his thoughts on the project.
“We’re delighted by how the project has turned out,” Swan said. “It was great to closely work with the Solak family to meet their expectations for the course and we’re very proud of the results. Both Howard and I spent a huge amount of time on site, around 120 days each, to oversee the construction and make sure the design fitted the site perfectly. Our efforts were matched by a whole host of contractors from within Slovenia but also specialist expertise from throughout Europe.”
Swan and the project team were tasked with enhancing the Royal Bled course so that regular golfers could enjoy the course, but ensure it provided a stern test for the top players in Europe.
“I think we have achieved this by lengthening the course to 7,276 yards from the back tees, but by constructing a minimum of four tee positions on each hole so as to not make it too difficult for average golfers,” said Swan. “The fairways are generously wide, encouraging people to open their shoulders, although being in the right position can really improve the angle of attach to some pin positions. However, without doubt the most enjoyable element of the game is found on and around the greens. They are large, fast and heavily contoured and will require great creativity from both the short-game and putting. It is not unusual to find yourself aiming at 90 degrees to the cup in an attempt to hole out.”
Located in the heart of the Julian Alps close to the Triglav National Park, Swan said that align the area’s natural beauty with the feel of the course was a vital part of the project.
“Creating a better connection between the golf course and the wider landscape was a real priority for us and was achieved through a combination of the removal of weaker and non-indigenous trees to create vistas of the surrounding mountains and the dramatic River Sava, and the restoration of alpine wildflower meadows in non-playing areas. We also made a conscious decision to make a connection between the golf course and Bled itself, with the removal of hundreds of the trees along the western boundary, adjacent to the first, second and third holes, allowing clear views of historic Bled Castle.”