Blessed with one of European most spell binding settings, Bled has a course and resort worthy of its incredible surroundings.
Sitting invitingly beneath the Slovenian Alps, the impressive Royal Bled is one of Europe's most scenic golf venues. Plotted close to Triglav National Park, the Royal Bled story began before World War Two when it was the brainchild of a former member of the old Yugoslavian royal family.
It opened in 1937, however, under Communist rule, it remained dormant for many years and didn't re-emerge until the 1970s when prominent course architect Donald Harradine got it back on track.
But, in reality, it wasn't until 1991 with Slovenia gaining independence, that Royal Bled really blossomed and its potential was finally realised. Then came a new owner, substantial investment and a major refurbishment programme carried out by Swan Golf Designs between 2015 and 2017.
Nowadays Royal Bled is the proud home of the regal King's course which has been returned to its alpine character and benefits from a completely new set of tees, greens and bunkers plus the addition of a spattering of new lakes and installation of one of Europe's most advanced irrigation systems.
It attracts golfers from all over the globe – it was a huge hit during the International Golf Travel Market in capital Ljubljana, a miniature Prague, at the end of last year and in May hosted the inaugural Royal Bled International Pro-Am starring five-time European Tour winner Costantino Rocca.
You can warm-up for a tilt at the King's on the neighbouring nine-hole Lakes layout and a comprehensive new practice facility complete with a double-ended range, two practice chipping and bunker greens, a 1,000m2 putting green, and a pro-teaching suite kitted out with the latest video analysis and ball tracking technology.
With a collection of tight, tree-lined holes, well placed bunkers – both eye and potentially ball-catching – and big, speedy greens, the King's and its wild undulations at times, will test you every inch of the route so probably best to avoid the 7,200-yards back tips and play from one of the other three friendlier tees?
You'll encounter several stand-out holes with the par-3 10th played to an island green arguably the most memorable along with the spectacular elevated tee shot at the par-4 14th flanked by a forest of trees on the right and water on the left.
Although off the beaten track – it's 35km from Ljubljana Airport – Royal Bled is just a short drive away from the town of Bled and hugely popular tourist attraction, Lake Bled at the foot of the Julian Alps. It also boasts a superb clubhouse and quality on-site accommodation in the shape of the newlyrefurbished 10-bedroom King's House.
If you fancy a change of golfing scenery, you can encounter the relatively nearby challenges available at both Diners CUBO in Smlednik and the short but densely tree-lined Arboretum.
Flight time is little more than two hours with easyJet flying direct to Ljubljana from Luton (from £29 one-way), Gatwick and Stansted. Adria Airways offer a weekly direct flight from Manchester.
TRY IT YOURSELF...
The excellent Stay & Play at Royal Bled package includes three nights' B&B in double room, unlimited green fees with buggy, airport transfers, costs from €450. To book visit: www.royalbled.com/en/playstay- royal-bled Green fees : King's – €150; Lakes – €45; Arboretum - €70; Diners CUBO - €90 IT'S
l Slovenia nestles between Italy, Croatia and Hungary and the Karavankas mountain range, towering up to 2,236m, are the highest in Slovenia. l International Management Group (IMG) have been providing management services to Royal Bled, a member of IMG's Prestige collection of venues, since 2015. l The courses 'hibernates' for three months in winter under the snow.
OFF COURSE ATTRACTIONS...
The 12th Century Ljubljana Castle overlooking the city and now a modern-day museum is well worth checking out as is the bustling Central Market between the striking Triple bridge and Dragon bridges crossing the Ljubljanica river.