Review for Zavidovo PGA National

Reviewer Score:


Zavidovo lies 80 KM north of Moscow on the St. Petersburg highway. As part of a purpose built resort, the club can be played by both members and guests of the Raddison Blu hotel nearby.

While a typically Russian limited season, the team does an outstanding job of maintenance across highly variable weather conditions. The track was purpose built on not terribly interesting terrain, but no cost was spared moving dirt to create variations and drainage well beyond the natural slope.

The course is laid out in a 9 out / 9 back arrangement with a snack shack at the turn. Each hole is unique - given no parallel fairways, making for an interesting playing experience. Among the best holes are #1 a very interesting par 4 to start the day #3 - a short par 4 with several different strategies off the tee leading to quite varied approach shots; #10 which has a nice balance of risk and reward (although the back left pin is a bit unfair, where even a well struck wedge risks running off unnecessarily) and #14 which - depending on the mood of the grounds crew can either be a full- swing away- drive (if the rough is cut down the right side) or a miserable, nearly unreachable long par 4 with a very narrow landing area.

The 18th hole, deserves it's own paragraph, however. Many of the members (including those involved in the initial design) laud it as a "great" risk -reward hole. Most lower handicap players violently disagree, leading to animated post-round debates every week. From my perspective, its design misses the mark. The split landing areas demand a choice... left is too tilted and narrow to hold anything other than a hard fade, risking a runoff into a lake, right is blind and a funky landing area. With a stream running across in front and along side the green, from neither right, nor left is it smart to risk getting home in 2. As a result, one either hits a VERY short iron (say 8 or 9) and runs to the bottom of the hill.. or a hybrid across the stream, still leaving 90+ yard in. Risk is not in any fashion rewarded, creating a very frustrating dink, dink, dink, 2 putts, have a beer finish.

Zavidovo is well worth the visit and I must highlight the staff and team before closing this review. They are fantastic. Inviting, professional and quite relaxed, making a day or weekend a wonderful mini-vacation. I highly recommend the visit.

Date: January 30, 2021

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