Located just off the main M1 motorway to the east of Budapest, the course at Old Lake Golf Club & Hotel lies less than an hour’s drive from the heart of the capital. First opened for play in 1998, the tree-lined fairways are laid out within the former hunting grounds of the noble Eszterházy family.
It’s not a long course, measuring a modest 5,637 metres from the back tees, with only a couple of par fives in play at the 5th and 13th holes. Water hazards – in the shape of ponds and wetland areas – feature at holes 4, 5 and 6 and a small creek runs across the front of the green at the short par four 14th.
Old Lake has a decent tournament pedigree: the OTP Bank Ladies Central European Open was held on the course from 2004 to 2006, the 29th ESGA Senior Amateur European Championship took place here in 2009 and the EGA European Ladies’ Club Trophy was hosted by the club in 2015.
The Old Lake course surprised me. Located just off the main highway between Budapest and Vienna, it’s set close to the southern shores of Öreg-tó (which translates as “Old Lake”), around which the small town of Tata is laid out.
The course has been open for less than twenty years but it looks like it’s been there a lot longer. Fairways are lush, greens sensibly contoured and the holes are very lightly bunkered. There’s a relaxed feel to the place in a very peaceful setting – apart from the background traffic noise on a few of the closing holes!
The short stretch from hole 4 to 6 is easily the highlight of the round, with the 319-metre 6th probably the signature hole on the layout. A wetland area lies along the right of the fairway at this hole and a pond eats into the front right side of the green, with the putting surface sloping from back to front.
Four of the six par fours on the front nine measure less than 300 metres in length so there’s plenty of opportunity to pitch and putt for a birdie on these holes. The more undulating inward half plays a good deal longer than the front nine however it also contains three daft 90 degree-dogleg holes at 11, 13 and 17 which detract from the overall golf experience.
No disrespect to the original Canadian/Hungarian designer but if a more renowned architect was given full scope to modify the routing on the back nine then I’m sure Old Lake would greatly benefit from such a move – it’s a good course at the moment with the potential to be distinctly better.