Italian architect Marco Croze laid out literally dozens of golf courses in his native country during a career spanning almost half a century, starting with Golf Club Udine in 1969. One of his later projects was here at Golf Arboretum, where he fashioned a 9-hole course for the club in 1998, returning three years later with Peter Škofic to add another nine.
The course is set out in the middle of a pine forest, next to the Volčji Potok Arboretum, the most visited botanical park in Slovenia,. Lightly bunkered holes are routed across a pleasantly undulating landscape with several of the fairways leading to water-protected greens. With only three par fives on the card, the course extends to a modest 5,452 metres.
The 336-metre 7th is rated the toughest hole on the card, doglegging down and left to a green that sits behind a couple of small ponds. On the back nine, the 430-metre 12th is another feature hole, playing uphill and left from the tee before levelling out then plunging back down across a wetland area to a long, offset green.
This is a very nice course in Slovenia. Some really narrow fairways on the course, so better leave your driver in the bag and play the course with irons. Also some big elevations on the course. Greens were nice and the greenfee is really good value for money.
Driving to the course past kilometres of flat, open fields, there’s nothing to warn you of the rolling terrain that lies ahead on the Arboretum course. It’s a brilliant setting for a golf course, with fairways carved through dense woodland, meandering around lovely little natural-looking ponds.
With a name like Arboretum,you’d expect trees to play a large part in proceeding here and indeed they do, sometimes prohibitively so: there’s the occasional lone tree standing in the middle of a fairway and some of the holes are really tight, where trees have grown a little too much into the line of play.
The 5th is a great par five, plummeting down from the tee then rising up to a long narrow green. The hole following is the first par three on the card but it’s well worth waiting for, playing across a small gorge to a green that’s benched into the hill on the other side.
On the inward half, the 13th is a terrific par four that flirts with a couple of wetland areas as it doglegs right and down from tee to green and it’s followed by a great little par four which requires an uphill tee shot then a precise approach to an offset green that’s perched on top of a ridge.
Arboretum was a bit of a surprise really, as I didn’t expect to find such a well-designed course in such a wonderful natural setting so close to the capital city. This is definitely the course to play if you find yourself in Ljubljana looking for a game of golf. Jim McCann