Fashioned by Dirk Bouts, lead architect at Nicklaus Design, the 18-hole Championship course and 9-hole par three Academy layout at Jurmala Golf Club & Hotel were unveiled to the golfing public in late 2018.
Laid out over the top of a Pekka Wesaama-designed course, formerly known as Saliena Golf Club, the new layout at Jurmala bears little resemblance to the course the Finnish architect created in 2007.
“The initial thought by the client was to renovate the existing golf course,” said Bouts. “But it became clear to all that the only proper option was to completely redesign and rebuilt the entire golf course.
The site was very challenging as it was located below sea-level and large parts of the site consist of peat,” continued Bouts. “Proper drainage of the site and the golf course ended up being the main focus for the design and construction of the course. While keeping proper water management and drainage practices in mind, the layout has integrated the existing water bodies and added various new water features where required.
What I found particularly interesting was that with the right approach, the proper design and professional construction methods, a very average, newly constructed course was turned into a great golf facility, providing the highest standards to be enjoyed by all kinds of golfers alike.”
Jurmala is a new grassland course with an onsite hotel, excellent practice facilities and a very challenging golf course. Unfortunately it's sited on a very flat piece of former farmland and if the golf course is the key element of the entire complex, it is significantly hindered by it.
Whilst conditioning was great, there was no getting past that almost every hole is bordered by water and knee-high fescue rough. Combined with the flat landform the holes just seemed to blend into one another. Only the first didn't have a pond, lake or drainage canal somewhere along it, usually the holes had combinations of the three types of water hazard. Outside of the water, fairways and greens there is long fescue rough. Everywhere. Almost every group I saw was searching for balls at some stage. The course requires accuracy, but in the 2-3 club breeze it was playing tough and I suspect that is the norm. I would consider this a course designed and conditioned more for the single figure handicapper, but I seem to recall that is only 15% of all golfers, so it will be interesting to see where this club goes with its layout in the future. I suspect they will have to cut back on the rough in short order or they might not get much repeat custom, especially in a developing golf market like Latvia.
Not surprisingly with the new and top quality facilities, the green fee is EUR29 more than at Ozo Golf. If I ever found myself in Riga again, I'd return to Ozo rather than this course as I found it a much fairer and more pleasant course to walk around. Your mileage may vary.