Bosnia – home to the world’s smallest golf club?

*(Warning – this one is for golfers)*

“Are there any golf courses in Bosnia?” I’d asked a few people and been met with shrugs and blank stares. Now it’s Hamza the waiter’s turn
He’s adamant. “No, no. We have none.” He finishes with a laugh that strongly implies stupid question.
In a half-hearted last attempt I turn to the web and open the World Golf Foundation site. Surprise, surprise, there’s not one but two courses listed in the country. Each has only nine holes (for the uninitiated, 18 is the norm) but golf in Bosnia exists.
One course is at Posusje, near the Croatian border, the other is here on the outskirts of the capital.
According to the website the country has just 123 players, 30 of them women. Playing in this outpost of world golf can’t be easy so I head into the hills for the VF Golf Club, Sarajevo, to take a peek.

The entrance to the clubhouse

The entrance to the clubhouse

With so few members I’d mentally pictured a shack for a clubhouse and maybe not even that. What I actually find is a building designed by one of Bosnia’s top architects. And it shows. Completed in 2005 it’s made out of natural stone and wood. The place is spacious and very plush. Tonight there’s even a band warming up to entertain the members.

I ask the barman if the club has a golf professional. Next shock, yes there is, and he’s giving a lesson. I go and look for him and can’t believe what I find. There’s a top quality, all-weather, covered range and it’s floodlit. Members turn up whenever they want, flick a switch and hit until their patience or golf glove wears out.
There’s also a chipping green, putting green and practice bunkers. All in tip top condition. These are some of the very best facilities I’ve ever seen at a nine hole course……except there’s a snag.
“We don’t have nine holes,” the pro Dejan Saran tells me when I meet him.
“Really. The website says you do.”
“It’s wrong. We only have six.”
“Six holes. That’s it?” I ask.
“Yes.”
“Doesn’t that get a little….boring?”
“No. We’re happy. Until a couple of years ago we only had four.”

image

Golf pro Dejan Saran

We’re in unchartered waters. I’ve never heard of a club with six holes before let alone one with only four.
We’re joined by Vedran Kosic. He explains the club’s unusual background. The course was the brainchild of his father-in-law Jasmin Selmanagic, a golf fanatic who had to travel abroad to have a game.
Fortunately he’s a wealthy man so in 2001 he funded and built one himself. He also played a major part in the design.
He’d love to extend the current number of holes but the adjoining land is owned by the government, even if they’d sell it would be hugely expensive.

Next I learn the tiny club has a pro shop. It currently has two sets of clubs for sale, one for men the other for ladies. For custom fitting you need to drive north a few hundred kilometres, show your passport at the border and find a golf shop in Croatia.
Finally the star surprise, the course itself. I admit that I thought a six holer would be a litte, well, you know, Mickey Mouse. Turns out it’s got quite a roar.
From the first tee are magnificent views over Sarajevo. However, golfers will have their minds on the opening shot, it’s seriously intimidating. The hole is a precision par three with angled green, water right, a steep bank left and bunkers short and long.
And so it continues. There are blind shots, drives with long carries over water, lots of sand, endless slopes.
Unsurprisingly the average handicap is quite high. I ask Vedran where my 12 handicap would rank me in the country. Definitely top 20, he tells me. Top ten is not out of the question. I blush at my own Bosnian brilliance and instantly decide to move here.
My star rating looks even better when Vedran tells me the website is out of date. He believes Bosnia now has well over 200 players, still hardly enough to cause a queue on the first tee.

Water, sand and slopes. This is a tough course

Water, sand and slopes. This is a tough course


Visitors are rare. Each week they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Members have peace and quiet to enjoy their competitions. All are played over 18 holes, which means three laps of the course. Do they ever get bored? Absolutely not. If anything they relish the mental challenge of competing against a hole which may already have bruised them once or even twice before in the round.
The missing holes are an oddity but this is a proper golf club in every other sense. Beautifully equipped, in top quality condition and with good greens. This place punches well above its weight. It might also happen to be the smallest golf club in the world.

Advertisements
Categories: Bosnia, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 30 Comments

Post navigation

30 thoughts on “Bosnia – home to the world’s smallest golf club?

  1. John

    I played this course when it was only four holes. There was a mine field behind the first green. I’m not kidding. I took a picture of the yellow warning tape. If you hit over the green, your ball was definitely lost. The greens were very small and the rough was extremely deep. I played to a six handicap at the time and believe that I probably would not have broken 100 – this on a course with three par three holes and one dog leg left par four. That one had more mines along the left side, so you only short cut the dog leg at your peril. You played the course four and a half times from different sets of tees, and we quit after about 11 or 12 holes, just getting beat all to hell. That said, the practice facility was world class, the greens were excellent, the course was in great shape, the clubhouse was terrific, and overall the place is exactly what you’d like to have if you could have your own personal golf club. Without the mines. Or the eight inch rough.

    • Hi John

      Thanks so much for the comments. Absolutely fascinating. How many golfers around the world would have had that kind of experience – amazing.
      I was there in the bad old days and the last thing I ever thought I’d see in the hills was a golf course.
      You’re spot on – it may be small course but it is tough as hell.
      Unlike you, if I ever owned my own course I suspect I’d make it a lot easier than this one. How else will I get the handicap down.
      Thanks again for the story, really appreciate hearing it.
      Cheers
      Arthur

  2. Esa

    Hello. I would be very interested to know if there are some courses to be built in Albania or Sarajevo. I have been playing golf in 139 different countries, and our rules are that the course has to have at least 9 holes, minimum par 28. My friend has 158…some more to go

  3. Hi Arthur, can you please provide me the detail of the 18holes course in Albania?
    I would be very happy with some info. Google does not provide anything except a driving range.

    Cheers and rruge te mbare.

    • Hi Bjorn.
      The course I mentioned in my comments section was La Perla Golf at Lalezit Bay, north of Durres. I came across it on the Worldgolf.com website. But I have done some more checking and by the looks of it the place hasn’t been built. They are trying to sell apartments adjoining the course……but that doesn’t seem to have been built.
      Faleminderit
      Arthur

      • Hi Arthur,

        Thank you for your reply. La Perla has not been built indeed.I was waiting for it, but it will never come.
        There are several initiatives which have not started building yet.

        If you want to hit a ball anyway, there is a small driving range near Tirana, It is located in the village Ibe, which is about 20 minutes drive from Tirana.
        You can find it here: http://en.leadingcourses.com/europe+albania/golf-club-tirana/

        So far that is the only golf related piece of land in Albania I could find until now.

        Cheers,

        Bjorn

        • Hi Bjorn

          Thanks for the info about the Tirana driving range. The blog is about two weeks behind my actual travel so I am now in Corfu.
          You are right about all the planned building projects in the country, I aim to write a short piece on that very theme. Many parts of the country’s coast resemble a construction site and yet there are literally hundreds of abandoned works all over the place.
          Your website is amazingly dtailed, I wish I had my clubs with me.

          Eis ygeian,
          Arthur

          • Hi Arthur.

            Thank you for the compliment. We are putting a lot of work in it, so it should be quite detailed and complete.
            At most clubs you are able to rent clubs, playing golf is still an option ;-).

            Most of the time, the land has no official owner yet, so it is kinda, first come, first serve.
            Oh and by the way, there are more courses with just 6 holes. Not only in Bosnia. There are 10 in France, 6 in Belgium, 3 in the Netherlands and some more in other countries.

            I’ve never been at Corfu, I’ve heard sailing is a nice thing you can do.
            Enjoy your travel, you are passing some great countries!

            Goede reis!

            Bjorn

            • Thanks Bjorn, particularly for all the info on six hole golf courses. Who’d have guessed there were so many in Europe.
              I suspect that few,if any, would match the great set up at the Sarajevo club……unless you know otherwise.
              Cheers
              Arthur

  4. americagolfstaff

    Great post. Golf fans everywhere are watching a beautiful golf, Muirfield, hosting the 2013 Open Championship. I have a preview of the Open below.

    http://americagolf.com/golf-news/2013-british-open-at-muirfield-exclusive-preview/%25post_id

  5. David Bowtell

    First it was the PGA leaving the Sunshine Coast. Now the Penlington Plate looks like heading to Bosnia.

  6. Andrew Riley

    Hi Arthur,
    Just found you blog online. Hope you are well and enjoying your travels, really enjoyed your posts so far. If you make it to the uk you must call to see us. You could get some good material from the wilder parts of Rhyl! We are in Greece at the moment, how are you coping with the heat?

    • Lovely to hear from you. Made my day.
      Currently in Albania and heading to …..Greece.
      I’ll send you an email save boring my millions of followers with some personal ramblings : )

  7. Roger

    First hole, water right. Doesn’t any course designer consider we players with a gay fade? Suggest you negotiate reciprocal rights on behalf of PSGC. This would add seriously to our international status. Good waffle.

    • First hole water right, seventh just the same and there it is again on the 13th. You’d be a gibbering wreck. Good point on reciprocals. There’s a course here in Albania too. We could have a Captain’s golf tour of the Balkans.

  8. Suellen

    I’m sure you had more sense Arthur than to actually test your top 10 handicap.

    • You’ve seen the state of me on this trip, I’m surprised they even let me in the clubhouse. I had made travel plans the next day……shame it would have been very interesting to say the least.
      PS: Thanks for dropping my handicap down two shots. Obviously my silky swing impresses you.

  9. Satomi

    Well…as much as I miss you…I still think you should stay there until enough golfers kick you out of your flattering ‘top 20 in the country’ position…very funny. Xx

    • I think half a dozen rounds here and I’d probably be out of the country’s top 100. They invited me to play with some hire clubs but they didn’t have any left handed clubs for chipping!

  10. Sandra Kiely

    Sounds and looks fab guess I couldn’t even attempt it off 35?
    Sandy

    • It was a really smart course. Not sure if it would suit your game Sandy but you’d only need to play six to find out. Perfect for ladies as you get loo two loo breaks!

  11. That’d be my dream nony travel experience – hit a golf course in every country of the world! You neglected to say whether you did, can and/or how much to play…looks beautiful!

    • If that’s your Nony dream then I have another country for you. I am now in Albania which has even fewer courses…..just the one. It has 18 holes. Shall I make a booking for you?
      I didn’t play Sarajevo but fees were about $50. Yes you’re right, the views were fantastic.

      • Thank you! Not yet although it’s on the list ’cause I want to see the other side of that spectacular statue at the clubs entrance! Tell me..are you going to Bulgaria? There is an absolutely stunning course at Thracian Cliffs overlooking the Black Sea that made my list…! We miss you at Shambles and around the club…there was a spooky moment yesterday when the results had your name up on screen..we looked everywhere, guess it was when you were writing the work ‘golf’ for your blog!!

        • Very spooky indeed. How did I play, did I win anything?
          Bulgaria not on the list, all this time to travel and it doesn’t seem enough.
          Heading down Albania at the moment to Greece.
          Ps: the other side of the statue is worth seeing : )

  12. Matthew Sydney

    I note you didn’t record your score…. Great post, course looks really tricky.

    • No score recorded because I didn’t play. They invited me to have a game the next day but I had made arrangements to get to Dubrovnik. It wouldn’t have been pretty anyway.

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: