Bulgaria's Thracian Cliffs: Europe's Pebble Beach


Thracian Cliffs: Feast your eyes on one of the most spectacular venues in mainland Europe. 

The Cape Kaliakra region of Bulgaria has a number of inherent advantages as a golf destination: an idyllic landscape on which to lay out thrilling courses; attractive weather for more than half the year; and exceptional value for money. These are three key aspects most travelling golfers would have very close to the top of their wish-lists. Add in top-end accommodation as well as convenience - Cape Kaliakra's three courses are right next to each other - and it is easy to see why Bulgaria was 2012's 'Undiscovered Golf Destination'. 

Within this impressive trio of courses, there is one clear stand out as the premier course in the vibrant area: Thracian Cliffs. Thracian Cliffs, which has frequently been in Golf World's biannual Continental Europe Top 100 ranking, was IAGTO's 'European Golf Resort of the Year for 2014'.

Hugging the clifftops along a 4.5km stretch of terrain above the sea, it is a beautiful beast of a course when played off the 7,097- yard tips. It proved exacting enough for some of the leading players in the world when it hosted one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour calendar - the Volvo World Match Play Championship - in 2013, with Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell part of the field. 

There are sea views from every hole, although that scenario seems unlikely as you drive your ball down the enclosed fairway of the 1st. But once you have hit your approach and walked towards the opening green, suddenly everything opens up in front of you. It begins a phenomenal opening eight-hole run, with the cliff edge on the right never far from your thoughts.

Thracian Cliffs is, therefore, not short of the spectacular – and the highlight on the front nine comes at the par-3 6th. It follows the shortest hole here (that's right, back-to- back par 3s) and is played to a green cut out of the cliff edge. The 40m drop in elevation mercifully means it doesn't play its full 232 yardage but even with less club in your hand, it is still a shot to get the palms sweaty.

The turn back for home at the 9th sees the quality maintained with a really solid par 4 and par 5 combination, making it easy to understand why Player could not help himself from describing Thracian Cliffs as the 'Pebble Beach of Europe'. Clearly, there might be a little bias by the South African given it was he who designed Thracian, but for most golfers, this is the kind of dramatic golf most of us can rarely get enough of. 

It finishes with a par 4 to a green that is heavily guarded by water; if it was a clock, the water would start at 6 o'clock and carry all the way round, clockwise, to 1 o'clock. A bunker awaits between 2 and 3 o'clock for those who bail out with a push.

You must try to clear the length of the lake on 18th, which is a late change in style by virtue of the fact it is a short hole with no cliff-edge action The fabulous on-site accommodation rounds off a deeply impressive resort. 

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