Opened in August 2012, the Penati Golf Resort is located near the town of Senica, about an hour’s drive north from the Slovak Republic’s capital, Bratislava, and it's now the country's largest golfing facility.
The resort is set within a generous 540-acre site, blessed with sandy ground and pine trees. It’s an ideal property for golf and Nicklaus Design snaffled nearly half of the available acreage to etch the first 18-holer at Penati, adding yet another new country to the Golden Bear’s flourishing collection of global golf destinations.
Boldly named Legend, this par 72 Nicklaus course measures a testy 6,954 yards from the tips, but you’ll need to bring your best ball striking game in order to tackle the monster par six 15th which can be stretched to a whopping 787 yards from the back tee. However, there are a staggering eleven tee boxes on this huge par six, so there’s a sensible option for golfers of all standards.
Some will dismiss the 15th as a gimmick, but nobody will forget the dramatic downhill par four closing hole which heads directly to the clubhouse terrace, where many golfers will be watching to see whether approach shots find a watery grave or the sanctuary of the island green.
In June 2013, Penati hosted the EGA European Mid-Amateur Championship and the Legend course impressed Bertrand Noël from France who won the gold medal, beating Australia’s Richard Heath at the third play-off hole. Albert Türklitz from Germany took bronze.The Legend course was for a while the premier layout in Slovakia and maybe you saw it on TV when the PGA European Challenge Tour visited Penati in 2014 and 2015. The Heritage course toppled the Nicklaus track from the head of our Slovakian rankings in 2016 but the best thing to do is play them both then decide which one you prefer.
Played both course on Penati last weekend. Both great courses, great condition, firm greens, Legend was running 10.3 but still recipient. Legend/Nickluas design are for sure a bit Americanized but we like that course a bit better than Heritage. Pine forest, rolling hills, wasteareas, beautiful bunkered, large greenareas, runoffs but very challenging.
I don't won't to really talk too much about it because I want be able too go back and be able to get a teetime. Hidden gem but hush hush.
The Penati Resort stands head and shoulders above all the other golf facilities in Slovakia and such is the strength of this national golfing flagship, both its 18-hole courses are currently ranked within the Continental Europe Top 100.
The Slovak Open Championship was being held on the Heritage course when I visited Penati last week so, even though I was keen to have a look at the Jonathan Davis design, the decision on which course to play was effectively taken out of my hands.
The Legend layout is brilliantly bunkered, with large sandy waste areas edging a number of fairways. The par three 8th is probably the signature hole on the layout, played downhill to an “inverted Biarritz” green which sits at an offset angle behind a lovely pond.
On the back nine, the long, wide 15th is really too contrived to be of any relevance to ordinary golfers (it plays as a par five from the more forward tees) and there’s really no place for such a hole on a serious golf course.
I’m also not a fan of gimmicky holes like the par four 18th, played downhill from an elevated tee position to an island green in front of the clubhouse, so the closing hole was a bit of an anti-climax to the round for me.
Still, the overall impression of the Legend course was one of unrelenting quality, with sandy soiled fairways laid out on a grand scale within an enormous property that appeared capable of containing two 18-hole courses, never mind one.
A very good looking course that has obviously had a big budget to make it look very good right from the off – I played in late summer 2013 just over a year after opening and was very impressed indeed. My knowledge of Slovakian golf was non-existent before a visit to Penati – but I would say there is a bright future here. The course has a familiar feel for UK golfers with many holes lined by pine trees, a look of Wentworth’s Edinburgh, Brocket Hall’s Palmerston and Woburn’s Dukes is not a bad comparison.
The 3rd hole is a very strong par-3, with very clever use of dead ground just short of the green, where a step in the ground throws under-hit shots towards a bunker to the left. Next hole to mention is another par-3, the 8th – playing downhill over water and over sand to a very slim (but wide) green – very tough, celebrate a par here in a big way. The very next hole, a par-4 has a tricky drive mainly as there is a lone pine in line with the tee boxes, so if using any of the back three tees it is in the way, add some water on the right and this is a real head scratcher – in my opinion the pine should be removed.
The 10th is a beauty – running parallel with the previous hole, with the water back in-play off the tee and a tough approach to the green that needs to be perfect, don’t be short and right! There is a little bit of fun to be had from the back two tees on the 15th; the hole has been stretched out to half a mile long and plays as a par-6, certainly memorable.
Wandering down the 18th fairway should put a smile on your face, a par-4 to a Sawgrass style island green – really good fun. Overall thoughts are:- Good looking course with six tee options so all can play, nice design, great presentation and conditioning to be proud of – The Challenge Tour are visiting in 2014 and 2015 which is a great endorsement. The resort has a second course too, The Heritage and with a hotel due in 2014, there will be many happy golfers playing and staying.