The Capitals course, established on a site that’s roughly equidistant to the four historical Lithuanian capitals of Kernavė, Trakai, Kaunas and Vilnius, is a Peter Chamberlain design that first opened its door to golfers in 2005.
Only nine holes were available for play initially but within a few short months, a new clubhouse and additional nine holes were unveiled at the grand opening of the new 18-hole layout on 7th July 2006.
Laid out in a truly natural setting where little earth was moved to shape the fairways, the Capitals course is routed around a varied landscape of wooded areas and open country containing several lakes and streams.
Peter Chamberlain, course architect, commented as follows:
"The golf course is situated in undisturbed, rolling countryside comprising leafy woods and three large, natural lakes that come into play on nine of the eighteen holes. These natural features means that the number of sand bunkers are kept to a minimum and are designed in conjunction with environmentally natural grass swales.
Practice facilities include a 40 tee driving range, short-game areas and a 9-hole short course. The clubhouse is situated in a central high-lying position that commands magnificent views over the majority of the golf holes.
The course is designed to accommodate the new golfing public in Lithuania as well as being able to, when desired, host a major professional tournament with the natural surrounding hills and slopes providing natural spectator viewing areas and easy TV coverage of several holes.
The project received the 2007 International Development of the Year Award from the American golf business magazine GolfInc. The American counterpart that year was Chambers Bay."
A rural parkland and grassland course set 45 mins out of Vilnius on an undulating piece of land. I'd hired a car for a couple of days whilst in the Lithuanian capital and so drove myself out to the club, following the pre-downloaded Google maps directions. All was relatively simple, although the course is very much out by itself in the countryside.
The design is interesting and the rural setting very pleasant, but the conditioning was quite ordinary, which is strange as they had plenty of lakes and ponds. Feature holes were the long downhill par 4 4th & 5th, the open downhill par 4 8th (if the wind is favourable, take the tiger line over the edge of the field and the bunker) and the short doglegged 13th between forest and marshland. My initial impression was that the front nine was superior, but on reflection, both nines had a couple of interesting and scenic holes, but both also had some rather straightforward filler holes.
The big stick was cooperating today and that certainly left the feeling of a slightly easier course, but as is often the case in our maddening sport; when one part of the game is on song the others don't cooperate and so it was with my flat stick: plenty of birdie putts left out there today! Glad I played here, but really would like to have had time to check out the other main two clubs in Lithuania: National Golf Resort and the European Golf Club, as from looking at some other info, I suspect they may be better than Capitals. No problem getting a game as a visitor on the weekend and green fee of EUR65 maybe a little overpriced.
I played many times in Capitals. Probably it is one of the the most picturesque golf courses in Lithuania and all Europe as parkland type course. Definitely this golf course would need better care and investment to become one of the best. As Lithuania has only five 18-holes golf courses, Capitals may be ranking in 3-4 place all of them. The biggest advantage is natural landscape with natural hills, trees and lakes. Concerning architecture and picturesque this golf course is very nice.
In general condition of fields and surroundings is average with many burnt-out areas, greens also. Fairways with some laps of ground, but playable. Greens are very slow and unpredictable. Golf course is not challenging at all. There is wide fairways and large greens. It's very good for beginners to play here and save additional golf balls. Regarding better players and long hitters there are good chance to decrease hcp, or have nice and enjoyable round of golf. 4th and 6th par 5 holes greens are reachable by second shot for birdie or eagle. 9th par 5 hole is more challenging and everything depends on wind direction. Definitely also first nine is more easier than back nine. Back nine has more hazards, more challenge and more pain of brain to play well. What are important that first nine are more hilly and longer so buggy is good friend. After increasing green fee value for price I found an average, maybe too overpriced as average conditions course.
No doubt every golf course rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria. I always rating by the following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. Concerning Capitals Golf Club my personal opinion is follow:
1. Challenging - 2* +
2. Condition - 3* (could be much more better)
3. Service - 3*
4. Surroundings - 5*
5. Value for the price - 3*
Quality must be changed first of all and follow price.