With more than fifty Canadian construction projects to his name, Les Furber is one of North America’s most successful modern architects and his European creations include a couple of Swiss courses and the renovation of a layout in Germany.
Furber, an associate of Robert Trent Jones Snr in the 1970s, also features a couple of Czech Republic courses in his design portfolio, Karlstejn and here at Beroun; both of which lie within ten miles of each other to the south west of Prague in Central Bohemia.
The fairways at Beroun Golf Resort occupy a 160-acre site that once housed a military installation and they were first brought into use in 2009. Four irrigation lakes were installed during construction of the course and they play a part in proceedings at the opening and closing hole on each nine.
The par five 5th is rated the toughest hole on the card, measuring a meaty 518 metres from the back tees, whilst the short par four 13th – a hole that doglegs uphill almost 90 degrees to the right – is one to watch out for on the back nine.
Les Furber’s office supplied us with the following article:
Golf Design Services was contracted in late 2006 to provide architectural supervision over the construction of an 18-hole golf course for Beroun Golf Club. Partners Les Furber and Jim Eremko were familiar with working in the Czech Republic having designed and constructed the nearby Karlstejn Golf Club in the 1990s then expanded that facility with the addition of a third 9-hole loop in 2007.
The Beroun course resides on a former military base near the city of Beroun in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. The 160 acre site is highlighted by rolling hillside, mature trees, and spectacular views of the city of Beroun and the surrounding countryside.
Featuring some 75m elevation changes, the site allowed for the construction of a golf course which fits the natural contours of the land with minimal earthmoving. Excavation of approximately 3.5 hectares of lakes provided the fill material for the construction of bold greens, tees, and bunker complexes with strong contours and the strategic playability that is the signature of a Les Furber/ Golf Design Services course.
Construction proceeded throughout 2007, with the final planting completed in early 2008 and the course officially opening for play in May 2009. The par 72 course offers an excellent variety of five par 5 holes, five par 3 holes, and eight par 4’s, full driving range and practice facilities. Four sets of tees ranging from 4556 metres to 6078 metres provide a fun and challenging course to golfers of all abilities.
In the early 1990s, some may have been surprised that Canadian architect Les Furber got the design gig at nearby Karlstejn but he obviously did a good enough job on that project to land himself a return visit to the Czech Republic a decade later to lay out the course at Beroun.
A man of great experience, having worked with Robert Trent Jones Sr. during the 1970s, Les is well used to designing courses on relatively difficult sites in western Canada so he was more than comfortable with having to shift some soil to fashion the fairways at Beroun.
The course is set out on hilly terrain, with both nines ending in aquatically challenged holes in front of the clubhouse, where four lakes were built to provide a) a source of water for irrigation and b) sufficient material for shaping during construction.
Because the course was busy when my playing partner and I arrived, we were directed onto the quieter back nine first (which is something I never mind if it speeds up play) but I’ll continue with this review as if we started at the 1st and finished at the 18th.
After teeing over one of the ponds on the 1st, you can forget about water hazards for a while as holes rise and fall over a hilly landscape, with the par five 5th a seriously tough hole as it drops down in two distinct platforms towards the green.
The 6th is an intimidating par three because water lies on either side of the green when viewed from the tee then the par five 7th is an exacting Cape hole, veering left past another lake and inviting you to carry as much of the hazard as you dare before heading towards a double green that’s shared with the 10th.
On the back nine, the drop down par three 11th really impressed, as did the short par four 13th, doglegging right and up to the green. The round then concludes with a par five hole, sliding right and downhill to a peninsula home green that might yield a satisfying par for those who sensibly lay-up with their third shot.
As I found at nearly all the clubs I visited during my recent short trip to the Czech Republic, the clubhouse at Beroun is large, modern and well-appointed with a lovely terraced bar/restaurant area and a small number of hotel rooms on an upper floor for visiting guests – truth be told, such excellent amenities put a large number of clubs to shame back home in the UK!
Don’t let a relatively low ranking in the current Czech Republic Top 20 fool you into thinking the golf product (both on and off the course) is in any way inferior at Beroun…