Golf Resort Cihelny (formerly known as Astoria Golf Resort) is one of a new wave of Czech Republic golf facilities that opened for business at the start of the new millennium. In addition to its 5,782-metre, par 70, 18-hole golf course, the resort also boasts a golf academy, short game course, driving range and practice putting green, in addition to a 64-bed hotel (the Royal Golf Hotel) located a pitching wedge distance from the 1st tee.
The Gary Player Design company was responsible for the layout at Cihelny and, despite having over one hundred course designs to its credit worldwide, this is one of only five courses that it's worked on in Central or Eastern Europe – the others being located in Poland and Bulgaria.
Set in western Bohemia, in the beautiful Slavkovsky forest, near Karlovy Vary, the Cihelny course is laid out on the flood plain of the River Teplá with holes 1 to 5 plus the 18th located higher up the side of the valley and the remaining holes routed along the banks of the meandering river.
The pick of the front nine is the second of the three short holes on the outward half, the drop shot 106-metre 5th hole ("Gary's Signature"). Three of the remaining par fours after this are good, old-fashioned short holes – each less than 300 metres in length – and at two of them, the doglegged 9th ("Eagle Challenge") and 12th ("Water Hazard"), bogies are as likely to be made as birdies.
First of all, if you paid no attention to what’s written on either the scorecard or course signage then you’d be hard pressed to know that this was a Gary Player layout. The Black Knight has been all over the world designing grand golf courses with big budgets and unlimited resources, but this must rank as one of his more “lie of the land” efforts, blending effortlessly into its natural environment.
There’s nothing flash or fancy here, everything is rather understated and matter of fact and, apart from a couple of holes on either nine – the long par three 8th with a fence immediately behind the green and the par four 15th, where the right angled dogleg requires too long a tee shot to enable a direct approach to the green – everything is rather sensible and really enjoyable.
I really liked the opening stretch of five holes, played out on higher ground in the southwest corner of the property, before you drop down to the valley floor to play out the next twelve holes then ascend back up to the clubhouse at the last.
My playing partner and I were paired up with a couple of guys from Stuttgart who were great fun to play with and we enjoyed a beer and a spicy hot dog with them at the half way hut next to the train station just as one of the little diesel-powered two-carriage units signaled its arrival, reminding me very much of Boat of Garten in the Scottish Highlands with its steam train service in the summer.
Although the drop shot 5th is a very scenic hole, I thought the best of the five par threes on the card was the 17th (“Easy Shot”), which is played to a triangular-shaped raised green with little margin for error in terms of hitting and holding the putting surface.
While greens were in good condition the other playing areas on the course were far from their best, obviously not helped by a lack of fairway irrigation. Scruffy tees and playing corridors are never a good sign and it looked like they’ve been that way for some time now, perhaps never recovering from the long drought of last year.
Still, Cihelny’s worth a play if you’re in the area, along with Karlovy Vary and Royal Marianske Lazne. They’re all situated in a beautiful corner of the country, close to the German border, and discounted green fees can be obtained if you purchase the West Bohemia Golf Pass for a very reasonable price.
Formerly known as Astoria Golf Resort, Cihelny Golf & Spa Resort boasts a Gary Player designed course, spa & hotel and is located near Karlovy Vary in The Czech Republic.
The par 70 course measures only 5782 metres off the championship tees. Player has routed the course through some challenging country with holes 1-5 and hole 18 in hilly terrain, and the remainder along the valley floor and along the banks of a river.
Despite the challenging topography early in the round, there are some lovely holes where Player has used the natural hazards to advantage.
But it is billy goat territory early on, and would be a testing course to walk for some.
A train runs through the course, and the lively River Tepla is in play for a number of holes. Play also heads over fences and it is at times quite a rustic experience.
There are some nice short par 4's – the best of which is the tricky ninth hole.
Cihelny is definitely a course where one could benefit from a 2nd play. A number of holes have surprises not immediately obvious off the tee to the first timer.
Cihelny is an interesting local course that could be used as a warm up round before tackling Kalrovy Vary and/or Karlstejn.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Super fun! This is actually a very far cry from the typical "Hit and Run" job by a famous name in an underdeveloped country. The terrain at first appears to be not entirely suitable, but the routing through a valley complete with stream, trees and assorted slopes can only be called inspired. Nothing here looks like it has been imported from somewhere else. What a light-hearted layout and how comfortable it sits on the land!
You get to hit your opening drive into wide open country, there's the always popular drop shot par 3 and a diagonal "bite off as much as you can chew" drive across the scenic river Tepla.
The course compares very favorably to the graver and more famous Royals close by. And I say that even though Cihelny is marketed as "Scottish architecture", a concept that does not immediately come to mind when thinking of the Gary Player design company working in the wooded hills of Bohemia
It pains me to award only four and a half balls, but my tally came up just a hair short of five. Maybe it's the sole responsibility of the 15th hole, which I believe was messed up royally.
The longish par 4 dogleg right has an alternate fairway that makes the hole so much easier that I suppose everyone used it and the club decided to make it harder again by turning the fairway into rough. Of course, standing on the tee I couldn't see how long the grass was and after a perfect shot was rewarded with a gnarly lie. The words "inept", "clumsy", "bumbling" and "heavy-handed" come to mind.
Be that as it may, but now let's get to the best feature: they have this unbelievable railway line, which I have not seen bettered anywhere else. So this time, instead of showing off some beautiful hole, I'll give you perhaps the most charming single-tracker in golf. (UM)