Golf tourism – Czech that swing

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Google Buzz Send Gmail

The Czech Republic boasts excellent golf courses, spectacular scenery, great nightlife and a huge dose of Bohemian heritage. Golf travellers looking for a new experience should consider Eastern Europe.

Prague itself has half a dozen courses within easy reach of the city centre and with cheap flights available from Britain’s major airports there’s never been a better time to combine a cultural holiday break with some recreational golf.

The pick of Prague’s courses is Golf Resort Karlštejn – 20 miles out of town. Karlštejn hosted four European Tour Challenge events between 1995 and 1998. But the cream of Czech courses lie away from the capital, some 80 miles west of Prague, in the enchanting West Bohemian spa towns of Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Vary.

Mariánské Lázně

The spa town of Mariánské Lázně was a favourite haunt of King Edward VII. Even today its elegant promenades and colonnades capture the languid spirit of Bohemia at the turn of the 19th century. It is even possible to visit the King’s private bath and cabin rooms at the magnificent Nove Lázně spa hotel.

King Edward presided over the opening of Mariánské Lázně Golf Club on August 21st, 1905 and it remains today a fine example of 19th century Scottish and Irish golf architecture. The course is set in a pine and maple forest and sits atop an upland plain 787 meters above sea level – the air is as fresh and invigorating as the local spa treatments.   

I played the course in early October when the late summer sun slanting through the rich gold and red leaves left an abiding impression; like watching sunlight rush through stained glass to illuminate a cathedral’s darkened hush.

Karlovy Vary

This 70-year old course stands 6 km outside the picture postcard spa town of Karlovy Vary. The scenic 18-hole par-72 course was designed by Parisian golf architect, Noskowski and was completed in 1933, replacing the original 9-hole course, which was built in 1904 by the ‘Gentleman’s Fencing Club’.

Like most Czech golf courses Karlovy Vary fell into a state of disrepair following the communist takeover in 1948 – with golf unpopular with the ruling regime. However the course was eventually restored and maintained by a dedicated group of members and was fully renovated in 1997, since which it has hosted the European Mid Amateur Championships.

Today the course is home to a colony of endangered Pouched Marmot and the squirrel-like creatures can be seen scurrying about the course in summer months.   

According to Pro, Luboš Štika, the course is a challenging one. “It is a beautiful course here at Karlovy Vary,” he explains. “We hosted the European Ladies Championship in1999 and the European Championship Senior Golf Associations in 2001 but it is not a course for beginners because there are many challenging holes. It is very enjoyable though.”

When to go

The harsh winters mean that golf is generally restricted to the April-October periods with many clubs closing by the end of October – although some of the courses around Prague remain open longer. But early and late season visitors will find crisp weather and tranquil fairways.

Where to play

Golf Resort Karlštejn

Course Details: 18 Holes, 5880 metre, Par 72 course

Green Fees: 1,200 CZK (£25) weekdays and 2,400 CZK (£50) weekends for 18 holes
Equipment hire: Motor cart 1,200 CZK/£25, set of clubs 500CZK/£10, trolley & bag 200CZK/£4

Time Limit: Maximum of 4 hours 30 minutes per round

Postal Address: Golf Resort Karlštejn a.s, Běleč 280, Líteň 267 27, Czech Republic

Club Address: Golf Resort Karlštejn a.s, Durychova 101, Praha 4, 142 00, Czech Republic
Telephone: +420 31 168 4716
Fax: +420 17 333 1100

Web: http://www.karlstejn-golf.cz
eMail: recepce@karlstejn-golf.cz

Golf Resort Karlovy Vary

Course Details: 18 Holes, 6226 metre, Par 72 course

Tournaments: Handicap tournaments are arranged each Tuesday (1200CZK/£25 entry fee)

Major Events:

  • European Ladies Championship (1999),
  • European Senior Championship (2001).

Green Fees: 1,400 CZK (£28) weekdays and 1,600 CZK (£33) weekends for 18 holes
Equipment hire: Motor cart £4 per hour, set of clubs £16, trolley & bag £6
Driving Range: Free use
Handicap Limit: 36 (green card required)
Time Limit: Maximum of 4 hours 30 minutes per round
Tuition: PGA professional tuition available at £15 per 50 minutes

Address: Pražská 125, Karlovy Vary, 360 01

Tel: +420 17 333 1001
Fax: +420 17 333 1100

Web: http://www.golfresort.cz
eMail: mailto:recepce@golfresort.cz

Golf Resort Mariánské Lázně

Course Details: 18 Holes, 5935 (5285) metres, Par 72 course.
Tournaments: Frequent club tournaments held (see website for schedule and entry details)

Major Events:

  • European Senior Team Championships (2001),
  • European PGA Tour – Czech Open (1994-96),
  • European Amateur Team Championship (1993),
  • European Junior Championship (1978).

Green Fees: 1,300 CZK (£25) weekdays and 1,500 CZK (£30) weekends for 18 holes
Equipment hire: Full set of clubs and bag 400 CZK (£8), trolley 100 CZK(£2)
Driving Range: Free use
Handicap Limit: 36 (green card required)
Time Limit: Maximum 4 hours 20 minutes for 18 holes.
Tuition: The Head golf Pro is Olda Nechanicky and PGA professional tuition is available at £8 per 30-minute session (plus £1 per 40 balls)

Address: Mariánské Lázně Golf Club, PO Box 47, 353 01 Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic

Tel: +420 35 460 4300
Fax: +420 35 462 5195

Web: http://www.golfml.cz/en_frame.html
eMail: mailto:office@golfml.cz

Highlights

Prague is magnificent. The city is crammed with opulent Bohemian architecture and teeming with history. Its inherent beauty overwhelms any odd wrinkles left by years of neglect under communism.

Whether it is the sober reflections of the Jewish quarter, the charming astronomical clock in Old Town Square or the breathtakingly beautiful cathedral in Prague Castle – the city provokes a rainbow of emotions.

But for me a sublime round of unhurried golf on a crisp October morning in Mariánské Lázně amidst the maple and pine forests remains unforgettable.

Lowlights

The Czech’s insist on serving what are loosely called ‘dumplings’ with pretty well every meal – but don’t expect a hearty English style suet-fest. Instead these tasteless slices of dough are akin to bland sliced bread.

Where to stay

Prague:

A four-day golfing trip to Prague, departing on the 8 May, costs £375 with ifyougolf.com (www.ifyougolf.com; 020 7208 7068). Price includes three-star B&B accommodation at the Best Western City Hotel Moran with return flights from Heathrow and car hire for four days (based on two people sharing).

Morgan Travel (Leeds) offer weekend breaks from around £320 from Manchester, London and Birmingham.

Karlovy Vary

The five-star Hotel Grand Pupp offers single rooms from £120 per night and has hosted luminaries such as Johan Sebastian Bach, Antonin Dvořák, Richard Wagner, Bismarck, Peter the Great and Whoopi Goldberg.

A six-night golfing week at the four-star Richmond Park hotel would cost around £650 including flights, airport transfers, green-fees for four games on the 18-hole championship golf course in Karlovy Vary and game at Mariánské Lázně. The deal also includes classical massages and pearl baths.

Mariánské Lázně

Fifty pounds a night will buy room, bed and breakfast at the Hotel Cristal Palace in downtown Mariánské Lázně but if you want to live it large then the Nove Lázně’s rates start at a surprisingly reasonable £70 per single room.

Getting there

You can book a scheduled flight to Prague via Czech Airlines (CSA) or BA from around £120, both companies fly daily from Manchester, Birmingham and London. For a budget option then you can get it for two-thirds of that on an Easyjet out of Stansted, Bristol or East Midlands.

Both CSA and BA also offer holiday packages including fly-drive holidays with details available via the company websites (see box for address) or from the following numbers.

Car hire rates are comparable with the UK with an Opel Astra costing around £50 per day through Dvořák rent-a-car (telephone +420-220 113 676) and the good news is that – central Prague apart – the roads are uncongested.

Off course attractions

Prague has its share of Irish theme pubs, but if you are looking for a traditional Czech experience try the U Fleků Brewery Restaurant on the Křemencova. They have been brewing a delicious dark beer on the site since 1499. If that isn’t history enough U Fleků is also the birthplace of Croatian football side, Hadjuk Split – who were formed there in 1911 by a group of Split students ‘studying’ in Prague.

Don’t miss a stroll through Prague’s historic Old Town, the Stare Mesto. The Royal Route will take you across the 645 year-old Baroque span of the Charles Bridge and up to Prague’s magnificently castle, which remains the seat of government today.

You might also try out Jazzboat, which departs from pier 5 at 8:30 each evening and features a river cruise, live jazz and dinner.

Staying with the beer theme the Pilsner-Urquell brewery – birthplace of the Pilsner brewing method – is well worth a stop-off as you pass through Plzen on the D5 heading back to Prague. They were celebrating their 160th anniversary when I visited and seemed intent on serving sausages and sauerkraut, rock music and beer to all comers. This year’s annual Pilsner-fest (October 4-6th) attracted record crowds who consumed 35,000 pints of Plzen’s finest.

Further information

Tourist Offices:

Flights:

Packages:

Car Hire:

Accommodation:

Courses

Sights:

Share