Military historians will tell you that the main claim to fame of Konopištì is that its castle was the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria – heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne – whose assassination in Sarajevo started the first World War in 1914.
These days, Konopištì is building up a new reputation as the location of one of the best new Czech golfing complexes to have opened since the start of the new millennium. The resort’s two 18-hole championship courses and 9-hole beginner’s course are laid out within the Tvoršovice Estate, together with a renovated chateau clubhouse and 50-bed hotel.
The Radecky course – named after Napoleonic War marshal Václav Radecky of Radeè – is the creation of John Burns from the European PGA along with head greenkeeper Frantisek Stepan and it first opened in 2002. The D’Este Course – named after Archduke Ferdinand d’Este, successor to the Austrian Throne – was only completed in 2005 so it still has some time to make its mark.
Following a relatively gentle introduction to the Radecky on the first three holes, the next hole is reached by following a path through the forest to the fourth tee. This slight right doglegged par five plays all the way from tee to green down a narrow chute of tall, dense trees with a creek running all the way down the left to add further pressure. The steep climb to the elevated tee on the fifth hole is actually a welcome respite after the near claustrophobia of the preceding hole!
The back nine begins with the shortest of the four par threes on the card, the 140-yard 10th hole. A couple of holes later, the massive (600-yard) 12th plays downhill with a right-angled dogleg to the green which may tempt big hitters – and the foolish – to fly the trees with their second shot. The 18th is another downhill hole, featuring a tree in the middle of the fairway, a pond in front of the green and two bunkers to the front and back of the putting surface.