The Heritage course at Penati Golf Resort remains our Slovakian No.1

28 September 2017 Respond to this article

The Heritage course at Penati Golf Resort remains our Slovakian No.1

Top 100 Golf courses got wind of a recent press trip to Slovakia via the European Golf and Travel Media Association and one of its long-standing members, Jana Janku, who told us she was hosting a small number of golf journalists on behalf of the nation’s Ministry of Transport and Construction. With participants arriving from as far afield as Hong Kong, we made sure we were among those invited to have a look around some of the country’s best golfing destinations.

Although the Slovak Republic is a young country, formed in 1993 when it split from the former Czechoslovakia, its golfing history dates back more than a century. The first 9-hole course was built during the times of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in 1906 -1909 at Tatranska Lomnica in the High Tatras for rich nobles staying at local luxury hotels and spas. Fast forward quickly to 2017 and four new courses opened within Slovakia’s national boundaries this year so the game is definitely flourishing here.

Penati Heritage course

Our exploration of Slovakian golf facilities began at the Penati Golf Resort in Senica, about an hour’s drive north of the capital, Bratislava. Here, Jonathan Davison’s Golden Age-inspired Heritage course remains at number 1 in our national ranking chart, having been described recently by a reviewer as “truly spectacular… inviting, elegant, varied and enjoyable… gets the juices flowing and is a stiff test from the back tees.”

Penati Legend courseThe Slovakia PGA was organising an event on the Heritage course when we visited Penati so our group of journalist played the national number 2, the Legend, which was the first 18-hole course to open at Penati in 2012. Exhibiting many of the traits associated with a Nicklaus Design layout, such as large waste areas and wooden-butressed, water-protected greens, this course takes golfers on an epic journey as it weaves its way around an enormous, undulating sandy-soiled property.

Gray Bear golf course At number 3 in our new Slovakian Top 5 chart, the course at Gray Bear lies 250 kilometres northeast of Bratislava, in the foothills of the Tatras at the winter ski resort of Tále. Established in 2002 when it became the first 18-hole course to open in Slovakia, this wonderful mountain track is largely routed through dense forest, offering golfers almost total seclusion from the outside world. It recently hosted the Ladies European Tour Slovak Open between 2010 and 2014 and its American architect, Bob Walton, returns every year to ensure the layout remains true to his design intent.

Black Stork Golf ResortA new entry in our revised chart at number 4, the Taylor and Braid nines at the Black Stork Golf Resort form the main 18-hole layout at a sporty 27-hole complex. Situated in the same mountainous region as Gray Bear, not far from the border with Poland, this PGA branded golf facility has been in operation since the start of the new millennium, gradually expanding its amenities to provide the perfect place for organising golf tournaments and corporate events.

Borsa golf courseBack near Bratislava , another 27-hole facility at Borsa enters our Slovakian listings at number 5, with the golf course forming the sporting centrepiece at the Green Resort residential and leisure complex in the village of Hrubá Borša. Operated by Martin Munka, who also designed and constructed the layout, the course at Borsa has been entertaining golfers since 2004 and the club now boasts a membership in excess of 900 golfers.

Black River course at Bratislava Golf & Country ClubThere was then enough time to visit three other golfing layouts in close proximity to the capital, the first of which was the Black River course at Bratislava Golf & Country Club in Bernolákovo, where the Theresia Chateau mansion doubles up as one of the most impressive clubhouses you will ever find anywhere. Unfortunately, the fairways – designed by the owner Jaroslav Kachlik – don’t quite match the standards of the off course facilities and there are some very strange holes set out around the estate.

Sedin Golf ResortThe course at the Sedin Golf Resort in Veľké Úľany opened its doors to golfers only a few months ago and it’s laid out on the floodplain of the Little Danube River, with fairways winding their way across a diverse landscape of forest, lakes and open countryside. Measuring almost 6,500 metres from the back tees, this layout is already geared up for championship play and it might not be too long before it attracts a big amateur or professional event.

Red Oak Golf ClubFinally, the fairways at Red Oak Golf Club have also just grown in and they occupy a hilly location on the outskirts of Nitra, overlooking the site of the new Jaguar Land Rover plant which will soon start car production. Designed by American architect Kenneth Williams, this new 18-hole layout has been positioned in such a way that it will be capable of accommodating the future construction of residential units around the property.

Danubiana Meulensteen Art MuseumPerhaps the non-golfing highlight of the visit to Slovakia was a rainy afternoon spent in the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum which stands in a beautiful location on the Danube peninsula, projecting out into the Gabčíkovo Dam. Founded by Dutch entrepreneur and art collector Gerard H. Meulensteen, the museum opened its doors to visitors in 2000 with the objective of promoting contemporary Slovak art and young artists in particular and it’s well worth a look around.

Of course, during these press trips there’s also plenty of opportunities to try the local cuisine and our group was delighted to have dinner one evening in the company of Tomáš Stoklasa, the President of the Slovak Golf Association, at the Korzo Restaurant in Bratislava Old Town. On another night, we sampled a wonderful goose dinner at the Grobsky Dvor Restaurant in Chorvatsky Grob and indulged in a beer tasting session on another afternoon at the Sandorf brewery in the small village of Prievaly.

It’s important to take a little time out away from the course during an overseas golf trip and what better way to immerse yourself into the local culture than by eating and drinking your way into the affections of your new found friends! Slovakia might not be the first country you’d think of visiting on a golf excursion but it has lots of good courses just waiting to be discovered – with more still to come in the pipeline – so don’t forget to bring your clubs when traveling to Bratislava.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Penati (Heritage) No change
2 Penati (Legend) No change
3 Gray Bear No change
4 Black Stork (Taylor & Braid) New entry
5 Borsa New entry

To view further details of our newly updated Slovakia Top 5 rankings click the link.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses