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A Round of Golf at Ihtiman

Opened in 2000, this is a parkland course with a links feel, it tests every single aspect of a golfers skill - a full repertoire of shots in the bag is needed to negotiate the 18 holes in a respectable score - Quest Bulgaria member, Stephen Rawlings, takes us on a round of Ihtiman...

Being 5,948 yards, with a par of 71 off the yellow tees, it is in every way a proper golf course. Water hazards on 15 of the holes await a stray drive or approach shot, although some of the hazards will not bother most players, most will. Then there are the undulating small greens making accuracy paramount. Factor in the stiff breeze we had when playing this course and you have the complete package to test even the lowest of handicappers.

The Air Sofia clubhouse is unique. Built around an aeroplane, the wings stick out of the front and rear of the clubhouse, and the tail sticks out of one side. The fuselage runs through the length of the clubhouse with seating inside it creating part of the in-house restaurant. With a well stocked bar, and a pro shop, stocking good brand named golf equipment, the 19th hole is very inviting before or after your round. The club pro is Austin, who originates from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Austin has been at the club since it opened in 2000, and has made a very big impact on the members. He’s an amiable and popular man, without a doubt Air Sofia’s greatest asset, equal to the standard of the course. There’s a driving range and three putting greens, so practice facilities are good.

Accommodation is available at the golf course, or in the Air Sofia Hotel, which is only a five minute walk away. Other facilities include:- Horseriding, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball, Football, Ten-Pin Bowling a Fitness Centre. There are different types of packages available to golfers and non-golfers, and green fees are 60 leva per 18 holes (Friday-Sunday) and 44 leva per 18 holes (Monday-Thursday). Golf buggies are available at a very reasonable daily rate. Tuition with Austin is available on request, either on the driving range or as a playing round.


Out on the Course

Hole 1: 418 yards Par 4
A challenging opening hole, dogleg right with out of bounds and tall trees to the right to stop you cutting the corner. A good drive of around 270 yards is required down the left side to give yourself a view of the green for your second shot. Trees down the left on the approach to the green will catch any errant second shots, as will the bunker to the front left. The large green has some subtle breaks in it, so take care when putting.

Hole 2: 182 yards Par 3
A straight forward short hole with a large green and slight undulation will require a 5 or 6 iron. It’s advisable to use the right hand side of the tee box to give yourself the best view of the flag. Anything long may be caught by the bunker back right.

Hole 3: 394 yards Par 4
A good tee shot is required here to carry the water hazard at 210 yards from the tee. Once the water is negotiated, a mid iron is required into a two tiered quick green. The second shot suits a fade off the left greenside bunker. Take two putts here and you can walk off to the next tee happy.