Prague is well-known for being one of Europe’s most popular city break locations, with its keen prices and superb beer – but what surprised me most was the superb standard of golf courses surrounding the city.
You don’t hear that much about golf in Czech Republic. But let me assure you, there’s plenty of it and it’s really quite exceptional!
Prague City Golf
In spite of its rather insipid name, Prague City Golf is my new-found favourite. Located 15 minutes south-east of the city, it offers a surprising palate of links conditions.
Here, Alex Cejka, the German tour pro with Czech roots and a home in Prague, along with British architect Jeremy Ford, have conjured up something as good as a sandy-based seaside track. Open to the wind, Prague City packs plenty punch.
Factor in 130 bunkers, many of the ‘pot’ variety, and you get the picture. This is a feisty, zesty little test that has to be included on a Prague visit.
Just another ten minutes down the motorway, the brand new Panorama Golf Resort offers 27 holes of widely differing terrain (Forest, Meadows and River) making for a great variety of shots: up, down and all around along with dramatic views from its upper echelons.
Even though I didn’t play it on this visit, the other Prague course I must mention here is Albatross, above. This is undoubtedly the premier track in the country. Host to the D+D Real Czech Masters, Albatross is as fine an inland track as you’ll find anywhere with service and amenities to match. You can play here for a little more than €70, a steal for a course of this calibre.
The region of West Bohemia is tucked into the folds of wooded hills close to Germany’s eastern border. From Prague, it’s a two-hour drive and, en route, we stopped at Greensgate Golf Club next to the town of Plzen.
Greensgate has been around for 14 years and already seen many changes in that time. We teed up on this tight but aesthetically pleasing par-72, 6,700-yard course that weaves between hills, forest and along by Lake Ejpovice.
It’s not long but it is complicated, doglegging frequently and this is its defence. The par-3 11th, above, is the most memorable hole, a tiny island green which looks like the size of a table-tennis bat from the tee.
Back on the road again and Karlovy Vary is a sophisticated little town at the heart of West Bohemia’s spa region with ultra-classy hotels, shops and restaurants.
There are ten courses near to Karlovy, one of which is Franzensbad Golf Club. It’s an elevated parkland course with a nice texture to the loam - not unlike Scottish heathland courses. It rises and drops, not steeply but keeping the terrain interesting.
The Mariánské Lázně Golf Club, meanwhile, is an exceptional parkland course first established in the time of King Edward VII who officially opened it in 1905.
It is tree-lined but then opens out onto wider fairways with the occasional little lake to watch out for. Both Marianbad and Franzensbad are solid tests, perhaps more in line with ‘resort’ courses and of an older style while those near Prague are of a more modern, demanding standard.
For a great value-for-money golf break, this a central European option that is well worth Czech-ing out.