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In May 2019 Sue went to Belek in Turkey with a group of friends to play golf there. Neil didn't go as he had recently suffered a medical problem which prevented him from flying. To make up for this we decided to have a week's holiday in Bulgaria staying at the Thracian Cliffs Golf resort on the Black Sea coast, playing golf there and at the two other courses nearby: Black Sea Rama and Lighthouse. The golf course at Thracian Cliffs is stunning, it is definitely the most beautiful course that we have ever played. Black Sea Rama is a lovely course with a links-like nature, there is a lot of small hills and wild natural grass. Lighthouse is a nice course, but nothing special. For more information on the courses click on the link in the table in the summary below. While the golf package we had was a reasonable price, it only included bed and breakfast. Eating dinner in the restaurants each evening did bump up the overall cost. All three golf courses accepted Euros and credit cards for purchases, so we did not need to exchange any money for Bulgarian Levs.
We booked the trip through Your Golf Travel. They are a very professional company and Richard Vande Putt (an apt name for golf), who we dealt with, was very helpful. We flew with Wizz Air from Larnaca (at 8:30am) to Varna, where we were met by a representative of the hotel and then had a 45 minute drive to the Thracian Cliffs Resort.
Our 1-bedroom apartment in block 6 of the hillside complex was ready, which was very welcome as we had been up since 2am, so we were driven up to it and after we unpacked we then went exploring, finding out where the pro-shop and first tee were and storing our golf clubs in the caddymaster's room. We had a look in the small on-site "grocery" shop, which besides being more expensive than the mini-bar in the room, really had nothing of any use for self-catering. We ended up in the Geti restaurant which has a fantastic view of the sea and had a small lunch there. The walk from Hillside down to the restaurants only takes 5 minutes or so and there is a small "train" which does the journey every 20 minutes. Outside those times reception were happy to send a buggy instead.
At the end of the holiday we had to leave the hotel at 3:10am. The hotel arranged for the transport and provided us with a packed lunch/breakfast for the journey. Our flight that day was the first one out of Varna airport and it left on time and arrived at Larnaca 15 minutes early having taken only just over 1½ hours. We got our car from the long-stay on-site car park and were back home before 12am.
There are several restaurants at Thracian Cliffs, of which we tried:
Our first game of golf was at the Lighthouse course, about 10 minutes drive away. Originally we were booked to play in the afternoon, but the weather forecast showed rain so we asked at the Thracian Cliffs' Pro-shop if we could have a morning tee-time instead. They called through and got us a tee time around 10am. When we arrived we chose to have a push trolley rather than a buggy since the course is relatively flat. however, pushing the trolley through the rough was a little hard going, but we managed it. While it is a nice course, it wasn't anything special. After some practice we arrived at the first tee a few minutes early and the starter said we could go out as a 2-ball, which was great as we had no-one directly in front of us and the group behind us never caught us up. It was like millionaire's golf. We both played from the white tees (Ladies' back tee, Men's forward one). Unfortunately it started to drizzle when we reached the 16th tee and by the time we finished the round it was raining quite heavily. At Thraciasn Cliffs we had been given a small mobile phone which had their reception and Pro-shop on speed-dial, so we used it to call the Pro-shop and get the minibus to pick us up early so we could change into something dry.
Our second game was at Thracian Cliffs itself, and we found out what a specatacular course it is. We arrived on the tee at 8:30 and the two ladies who we were partnered explained that they'd arranged with the starter to go off the green tees as a 2-ball if we didn't mind. We let them get to the green and then we ourselves played as a 2-ball from the white tees. Again it was millionaire's golf. We thoroughly enjoyed the golf and spent quite a bit of time taking photos since no-one following us caught up. There was only one hole where Sue used the green tees because of the long carry over a scrubby area. We both came in feeling that we'd been privileged to play such a brilliant course.
Our third game was at Black Sea Rama. Again we changed our tee-time to play early in the morning and caught the mini-bus with a group of 3 Dutchmen. They started off in front of us, but soon pulled away as again, with no-one behind us, we took our time and took loads of photos. Half way round they stopped for food and we played through, only seeing them coming in from the last hole about 20 mins after we had finished. Although there was no rain it was very cold (single figures centigrade) but that didn't prevent us really enjoying playing the course, and what a lovely course it is. It is links-like in nature with lots of rolling hillocks and undulating fairways. There is a lot of natural grass around and some lovely holes. Again we played off the white tees except that on the 18th Neil was challenged to play from the silver tee, he did one better though and played from the gold instead, driving into the right-hand greenside bunker. We had a little snack (mussels) in their excellent restaurant before going back to our resort.
Our last game was back at Thracian Cliffs, again at 8:30 and again following the same two ladies playing as a 2-ball. Neil decided to play off the silver tees and played exceedingly well, being 2 under his handicap after 9 holes, though he didn't do so well on the back 9. Hole 6 is a par-3 with a horizontal distance to the green from the silver tees of 180 metres, but the vertical elevation is about 40 metres, making it a spectacular hole, with the cliff on the left side and the sea waiting to claim any ball wayward on the right. The silver tee on the 7th hole is built on a small island reached by a bridge, there is a 180 metre carry over the sea to the fairway, which is raised higher than the tee. Neither of us really thought Neil would make it, but he hit his tee shot of the holiday and made it with a few yards to spare. Sue had a problem in that she had developed tennis elbow in her left arm. She had a wrist support bandage in her golf bag, so when taking shots she slipped that up her arm and found that she played the round better than she had three days earlier! We were a little sad when we came off the last green knowing that we wouldn't be playing the course anymore, at least not this year.
On our two days off golf we took a walk over to Bendida beach. From there we walked along a path by the sea to Argata beach, where we saw our favourite waitress who served us with a very drinkable half-bottle of Bulgarian Chardonnay while we drank in the beautiful scenery. While walking on the beaches we must have found a dozen balls that had been sliced over the cliffs from the tees and fairways above us.
This was a brilliant golfing holiday. The hotel was fantastic and the courses we played were superb. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so much so that we are thinking of booking another golf holiday there again for next year. For more (higher-resolution) photos and videos, click on the icons ( & ) at the top.
|4 Oct||Lighthouse||A pleaseant course but nothing special.|
|6 Oct||Thracian Cliffs||The most spectacular course we have ever seen or played.|
|7 Oct||Black Sea Rama||A very very lovely links course.|
|9 Oct||Thracian Cliffs||Fanstastic course with beautiful views of the Black Sea on every hole.|
For the whole photo album click on the "Photo Album" icon ( ) at the top.