Teed Off: Golf in the Czech Republic

Expats.cz

Golf much? If you are into it, or would like to be, you’re in luck because the Czech Republic is an excellent country for the sport. Lots of courses (CzechTourism lists 124 clubs and 74 golf courses) and high-quality facilities offer both experienced players and newbies alike a good experience. Most clubs and courses are semi-private. Prices are cheap – usually starting at around 250CZK for a nine-hole course, all the way up to 3000CZK for one of the more challenging master courses. Lessons with a golf professional can range from 400CZK for 25 minutes to 1000CZK for 50 minutes. During the season (roughly April to October), most clubs are open from 8am-8pm. The majority of the courses here are the so-called parkland type which means they have a lot of trees. There aren’t any “true” links as this is a land-locked country with no access to the sea; however, you will find some links-type courses that are flat without the trees. No clubs? No problem – most courses offer equipment rental, as well as pro shops and restaurants.

Let’s start in Prague. There aren’t the best courses here, but you can’t beat the location. Opened in 2006, Golf Hostivar (Hornomecholupská 565, www.golfhostivar.cz) offers nine holes, a golf academy, and chip and putt. Big lights mean no one has to call time when the sun sets, and there’s even a heated booth for hitting balls in the winter. Golf & Country Club Prague is in Hodkovicky (Vltavanu 982, www.hodkovicky.cz) Prague 4, along the Vltava. It offers nine holes and an excellent driving range. Out in Motol, you can play a round at Prague-Motol (Plzenská 402 /1, www.gcp.cz). This is a hilly course, and managed by the oldest golf club in the country, Prague GC. Non-drivers – there’s a tram stop near the entrance. A bit outside the city near Zelenec is Golf & Country Club Mstetice (Mstetice 5, www.gccm.cz). This is a links-type course, offering 27 holes with fairways bordered by high roughs.

There’s a wealth of indoor golf opportunities here as well. The biggest and best is probably Prague 5’s Erpet Golfcentrum (Strakonická 2860/4, www.erpet.cz). Here you’ll find two levels of driving ranges, a putting green, full swing simulator, chip and putt academy, plus a pro shop. They are open everyday from 7am-11pm and at only 300CZK an hour, you can really improve your game during the darker months. Sportscentrum Step (Malletova 2350, www.sportcentrumstep.cz) offers indoor golf via a driving range with 16 different tee-off positions, 10 short play holes and a driving range 35 meters long. They also have a golf simulator as well as putting green. Bring your non-golf obsessed friends and family; Sportscentrum Step also has a swimming pool, tennis, squash, badminton and bowling. Out in Chodov, visit Golfcentrum Chodov (Roztylská 2321/19, www.centrumchodov.cz). Located in Centrum Chodov, here you’ll find four full swing simulators, a driving range and putting green. If you need to squeeze in a couple swings during your lunch hour, pop over to UK Kult (Vinohradská 41, www.ukkult.eu). It’s actually a shop selling a variety of golf fashions (is that an oxymoron?), clubs and other equipment, and they’ve installed a simulator and putting green.

Moving out to some courses within an easy day trip from Prague, we first head to Karlštejn (Beler 272, www.karlstejn-golf.cz). This course is probably one of the best in the country, not only for its challenging play that includes hills, sand and wind; but all is played under the shadow of Karlštejn. Also in the environs of a well-known chateau is the course at Konopište (Tvoršovice 27, www.gcko.cz). This is a one-swing stop in that they have two 18-hole courses, a nine hole public course (excellent for beginners), driving range and an indoor center with simulators and a training area. One of the newer courses is Golf Park Plzen (Horomyslická 1, www.golfparkpl.cz). Water hazards and a hilly terrain can be found on this 18-hole course; and what may be a snub towards the city’s namesake Pilsner Urquell brewery – the restaurant has a wine cellar. Opened in 2007, Sand Martin’s Holes (www.golfmladaboleslav.cz) is near Mladá Boleslav. Its claim to fame is the longest hole in the Czech Republic: Hole 15 is 652 meters from the white tees. Podebrady is another nearby city; its course (Na Zálesí 530, www.golfpodebrady.cz) should be avoided by golfers whose balls can’t float. Podebrady, with relatively flat greens, has a large number of water hazards. And travel to the country’s birthplace of golf: Karlovy Vary (Pražská 125, www.golfresort.cz). Established in 1904, this 18-hole course often is the site of many tournaments and boasts both meadows and hills sprinkled with trees. Also here is the Golf and Racing Club Karlovy Vary (Kpt. Jaroše 29, www.racingclub.cz). This is a unique concept as the course is actually built within the horse racing facility. It’s a nine tee, 18-hole course, which means you tee off at each hole twice, but you still golf 18 greens. It’s an interesting way to fit a full golf course into a limited space.

If you need further proof the country truly is greens-friendly, check out the number of courses that have been designed by top players or well-known golf course architects. Gary Player did the course Cihelny u Karlových Varu (www.agc-cihelny.cz), near Karlovy Vary; Miguel A. Jimenez designed Prosper Golf Club Celadná (www.prosper-golf.cz) near the Beskydy Mountains; Les Furber and Jim Eremko did Karlštejn while John Burns took care of Konopište.

For a good introduction to golfing here, visit GolfCzech (www.golfczech.com). They offer a wealth of information on courses and tournaments, including a great search engine where you can find your course based on location, price or course type. The Czech Golf Federation (www.cgf.cz) has information on courses, clubs and other news; not a lot of it is in English. If your Czech is up to par, www.golf.cz has a ton of information on the golfing world.