Local sporting hero Sandis Ozolinsh, an NHL player since 1991 (in San Jose, Colorado, Carolina, Florida, Anaheim and New York) and a member of the winning Stanley Cup team in 1996, is the man responsible for founding (and naming) Ozo Golf Club.
The 18-hole course, driving range, chipping and putting green facility was designed by Rob Swedberg of Frontier Golf (Denver) and it opened just to the north of Riga in 2002. Subtle mounding, contoured bunkering, installation of ponds and planting of trees have all helped to fashion a fine course on a relatively flat landscape.
Within three years of opening, Ozo had become the national training centre for Latvian golf teams – and they also host both the Latvian Open and Baltic Open, which is a very popular competition with Northern European professionals.
Sandis Ozolinsh may still be an outstanding ice hockey offensive defenseman but he has had the foresight to prepare for his retirement by transforming a former rubbish tip near the banks of Lake Kisezers into a first class golf facility that will keep him occupied long after he has finally hung up his skates.
Ozo is a parkland course set on relatively flat land beside a lake, about 20 minutes north of central Riga. A number of holes border the lake and it is in play framing the right-hand side of fairways. The club is quite small but popular within the Latvian golfing comunity and provides everything expected for a quality game. There are a few back and forth filler holes, but also some standouts early in the forest, as well as those lakeside.
Holes 3-5 are those playing through the forest and are an excellent combination of a par 3, then 5 then 4. The par 3 3rd plays uphill and it can be hard to judge the distance perfectly, especially with a large bunker and hillock partically obscuring the left hand side. Take an extra club and trust your swing. The 4th is a 475m par 5 that requires a drive over a series of bunkers, but not too far left or long as the hole has a long dog-leg to the right. Only the very best of drives would offer the opportunity of going for the green in two and that is a high risk play requiring a blind shot over the tall trees of the forest on the inside of the dogleg. The safer play is an iron short of the bunkers approaching the green leaving a pitch onto a relatively flat green longer than it is wide. The 5th is then a par 4 with a slight curve to the left but with the lake and reeds down the entire right hand side. The fairway is sufficiently generous with room left and the greenside bunkers aren't tight to the putting surface. The lake is still in play along the right of 7 and 8 also.
The 10th has a 'vertical bunker' (a tree!) in the middle of the fairway which requires some thought on the drive and which is one of those features which divides opinion amongst golfers, generally strongly! The remainder of the back nine is less interesting, but still contains a nice collection of dog-leg holes, some slight undulations and water coming close to the line of play on a couple of occasions. However the course plays fair for all levels of golfer and is sufficiently interesting.
Overall, I liked the understated nature of the club and the course was interesting, challenging and well enough kept. I played the other main course near Riga at Jurmala Golf and Hotel, the day after this one and preferred Ozo.
Ozo Golf Club is the first 18-hole golf course in Latvia with a total distance of 6400 meters from the back tees. The course also features riving range, putting green, clubhouse with pro shop, saunas and restaurant. Concerning prices it is acceptable and club have few packages for players. Also you must check special price time by time they offer. I was played here two times and my opinion they must bit renew fields and greens. Course was played from yellow tees and I find it not very challenging. Fields condition was average, greens slow. The 4th hole par 5 is very interesting and take chance to reach green by two shots (from yellow tees), but in other hand you must avoid out of bounds and bunkers. The hole runs in a semicircle to the right side and you must hit from fairway to the green crossing corner bit blindly. Second nice hole No. 7th long par 4 with narrow and water protected fairway from right side and big bunker beside green. Next one par 5 also require accuracy with first shot from tee. Actually that‘s all concerning first nine. After some easy hole on second nine maybe 14th hole is worthy of attention. This long par 5 with dog leg to right is not very hard but challenging. Long hitter can try to cut the corner for chance to reach green in two shots...but they must be accurate enough. More easier to reach the green by three shots and expect easy par. Some next holes is borring. Generally course is playable for different levels of golfers for good result. Maybe more difficult in windy days...
As every golf course rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria and personal point of view to importance things, my personal opinion depends on following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. My priority is challenging and value for price criterias. Ozo Golf Club gets:
1. Challenging - 3* +
2. Condition - 3* +
3. Service - 4*
4. Surroundings - 4*
5. Value for the price - 4*
Will be back only for acceptable green fee price.