Nicklaus to Design His First Course in Croatia

Jack Nicklaus made a visit to Croatia over the weekend. In the capital city of Zagreb, he met with the nation’s Prime Minister, Dr. Ivo Sanader, and other government officials to celebrate the official signing and announcement of the first-ever Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in the Republic of Croatia. A contract-signing ceremony on Sunday officially launched the relationship between Nicklaus Design and Porto Mariccio Resort, a new community on the west coast of the Istrian Peninsula.

Nicklaus Design was chosen to bring to life the first integrated resort in Croatia. Besides the 18-hole golf course, Porto Mariccio Resort will contain a luxury hotel with a spa, wellness center and meeting facilities; a variety of residential offerings totaling more than 460 units; and a 350-berth marina. Developed by the real estate-investment firm AB Maris, the resort will be situated between the towns of Rovinj and Pula near the Brijuni Islands archipelago.

Jack Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design have courses open for play in 28 different countries, but this is the firm’s first in Croatia. Nicklaus Design currently has 80 projects under development outside the United States, including 20 in new countries.

“This is one more country that five years ago we, as a firm, never dreamed we would have the opportunity to be involved in as far as developing golf,” said Tim Kenny, executive vice president for Nicklaus Design. “It is exciting for Jack, the family and Nicklaus Design to continue our efforts to introduce and grow the game in new markets throughout the world.”

There are currently just three golf courses to service Croatia’s population of 4.4 million. Yet since 1993, the country has sported one of the highest growth rates of any transitional nation of Central and Eastern Europe. Over the last decade, tourism has grown every year. In April, more than 413,000 tourists visited the Adriatic Coast, a 25 percent increase from the same month a year ago, and room nights are up 35 percent from a year ago.

Industry experts have pointed to Croatia as being one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe, and National Geographic magazine labeled the country as the top destination for the 2006 season. It’s estimated that several billion dollars worth of tourism infrastructure projects are being planned throughout the country over the next three to five years.

Golf seems to be a perfect fit with the country’s tourism industry, especially with more than 3,600 miles of coastline and a prevailing Mediterranean climate on the Adriatic coast that boasts dry, sunny summers with temperatures averaging 77 degrees, and mild winters averaging 54 degrees.

“This is both exciting and an honor that the developers of Porto Mariccio have chosen our firm,” Nicklaus said. “This area is beautiful, and has so much untapped potential. We are honored to be given the opportunity to help unlock that potential and to create a golf destination and something that will further enhance the growing tourism industry of Croatia. The site itself is ideally located on the Adriatic Sea, and with the combination of the shoreline and the gentle contours of the property, we have a chance to create something special.”

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