Armand Hammer, one time chairman of Occidental Oil Company, told the former Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev a couple of ways of attracting foreign investment to the old USSR were the provision of comfortable limousines and golf courses for American businessmen.
The old Soviet government disregarded the advice, of course, and it was not until much later in the late 1980s that the new Russian regime embraced the game of golf. The first course was constructed for the Moscow City Golf Club under the direction of its founder, former Swedish ice hockey player, Sven Tumba. The Moscow Country Club followed it soon after.
Located in Nakhabino, just north west of the capital, the Moscow County Club was created in 1993 as the first golf development of GlavUpDK, a department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the masterminds behind the project were Alexander S. Zinoviev (first deputy director of the state department), Ivan Sergyev and Antti Peltoniemi.
The course sits on a 300-acre property, incorporating a 131-room hotel with all the usual leisure facilities like swimming pools, solarium, massage and beauty treatment rooms. An adjoining sports complex offers activities as varied as squash, volleyball and fishing.
Course architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr routed the holes through a birch tree forest and he said that the layout; “was designed to be a very traditional parkland course… the concept is classic strategy with hazards placed to create risks and rewards thus providing exciting, enjoyable golf.”Almost half the holes at the Moscow Country Club course have water to contend with, especially at the signature, 576-yard par five 5th. The drive must be played to a landing area to the right of water then the second shot has to be hit to left of the next water hazard. Only then, after tacking your way from the tee, can an approach be played – over water again – to the green.
Moscow Country Club hosted the Russian Open for
six consecutive years from 2003 to 2008. After a five-year hiatus, the tournament was rekindled in 2013 and relocated to Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.
Paul Thomas of Dave Thomas Ltd. was commissioned by Moscow Country Club in 2013-2014 to undertake substantial infrastructure improvements, including new cart paths, extensive fairway drainage works and bunker relining. The effect of these changes has allowed play to start earlier in the year and to continue later into autumn before the arrival of the long Russian winter.