The Heritage course at Penati Golf Resort remains our Slovakian No.1
Top 100 Golf courses got wind of a recent press trip to Slovakia via the European Golf and Travel Media Association and one of its long-standing members, Jana Janku, who told us she was hosting a small number of golf journalists on behalf of the nation’s Ministry of Transport and Construction. With participants arriving from as far afield as Hong Kong, we made sure we were among those invited to have a look around some of the country’s best golfing destinations.
Although the Slovak Republic is a young country, formed in 1993 when it split from the former Czechoslovakia, its golfing history dates back more than a century. The first 9-hole course was built during the times of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in 1906 -1909 at Tatranska Lomnica in the High Tatras for rich nobles staying at local luxury hotels and spas. Fast forward quickly to 2017 and four new courses opened within Slovakia’s national boundaries this year so the game is definitely flourishing here.
Our exploration of Slovakian golf facilities began at the Penati Golf Resort in Senica, about an hour’s drive north of the capital, Bratislava. Here, Jonathan Davison’s Golden Age-inspired Heritage course remains at number 1 in our national ranking chart, having been described recently by a reviewer as “truly spectacular… inviting, elegant, varied and enjoyable… gets the juices flowing and is a stiff test from the back tees.”
The Slovakia PGA was organising an
event on the Heritage course when we visited Penati so our group of
journalist played the national number 2, the Legend,
which was the first 18-hole course to open at Penati in 2012.
Exhibiting many of the traits associated with a Nicklaus Design
layout, such as large waste areas and wooden-butressed,
water-protected greens, this course takes golfers on an epic journey
as it weaves its way around an enormous, undulating sandy-soiled
At number 3 in our new Slovakian Top 5
chart, the course at Gray Bear
lies 250 kilometres northeast of Bratislava, in the foothills of the
Tatras at the winter ski resort of Tále. Established in 2002 when it
became the first 18-hole course to open in Slovakia, this wonderful
mountain track is largely routed through dense forest, offering
golfers almost total seclusion from the outside world. It recently
hosted the Ladies European Tour Slovak Open between 2010 and 2014 and
its American architect, Bob Walton, returns every year to ensure the
layout remains true to his design intent.
A new entry in our revised chart at
number 4, the Taylor and Braid nines at the
Black Stork Golf Resort form the main 18-hole layout at a sporty 27-hole complex. Situated in
the same mountainous region as Gray Bear, not far from the border
with Poland, this PGA branded golf facility has been in operation
since the start of the new millennium, gradually expanding its
amenities to provide the perfect place for organising golf
tournaments and corporate events.
Back near Bratislava , another 27-hole
enters our Slovakian listings at number 5, with the golf course
forming the sporting centrepiece at the Green Resort residential and
leisure complex in the village of Hrubá Borša. Operated by Martin
Munka, who also designed and constructed the layout, the course at
Borsa has been entertaining golfers since 2004 and the club now
boasts a membership in excess of 900 golfers.
There was then enough time to visit
three other golfing layouts in close proximity to the capital, the
first of which was the
course at Bratislava Golf & Country Club in Bernolákovo, where
the Theresia Chateau mansion doubles up as one of the most impressive
clubhouses you will ever find anywhere. Unfortunately, the fairways –
designed by the owner Jaroslav Kachlik – don’t quite match the
standards of the off course facilities and there are some very
strange holes set out around the estate.
The course at the Sedin Golf Resort in
Veľké Úľany opened its doors to golfers only a few months ago and
it’s laid out on the floodplain of the Little Danube River, with
fairways winding their way across a diverse landscape of forest,
lakes and open countryside. Measuring almost 6,500 metres from the
back tees, this layout is already geared up for championship play and
it might not be too long before it attracts a big amateur or
Finally, the fairways at Red Oak Golf
Club have also just grown in and they occupy a hilly location on the
outskirts of Nitra, overlooking the site of the new Jaguar Land Rover
plant which will soon start car production. Designed by American
architect Kenneth Williams, this new 18-hole layout has been
positioned in such a way that it will be capable of accommodating the
future construction of residential units around the property.
Perhaps the non-golfing highlight of
the visit to Slovakia was a rainy afternoon spent in the Danubiana
Meulensteen Art Museum which stands in a beautiful location on the
Danube peninsula, projecting out into the Gabčíkovo Dam. Founded by
Dutch entrepreneur and art collector Gerard H. Meulensteen, the
museum opened its doors to visitors in 2000 with the objective of
promoting contemporary Slovak art and young artists in particular and
it’s well worth a look around.
Of course, during these press trips
there’s also plenty of opportunities to try the local cuisine and
our group was delighted to have dinner one evening in the company of
Tomáš Stoklasa, the President of the Slovak Golf Association, at
the Korzo Restaurant in Bratislava Old Town. On another night, we
sampled a wonderful goose dinner at the Grobsky Dvor Restaurant in
Chorvatsky Grob and indulged in a beer tasting session on another
afternoon at the Sandorf brewery in the small village of Prievaly.
It’s important to take a little time out away from the course during an overseas golf trip and what better way to immerse yourself into the local culture than by eating and drinking your way into the affections of your new found friends! Slovakia might not be the first country you’d think of visiting on a golf excursion but it has lots of good courses just waiting to be discovered – with more still to come in the pipeline – so don’t forget to bring your clubs when traveling to Bratislava.
|1||Penati (Heritage)||No change|
|2||Penati (Legend)||No change|
|3||Gray Bear||No change|
|4||Black Stork (Taylor & Braid)||New entry|
To view further details of our newly updated Slovakia Top 5 rankings click the link.
Top 100 Golf Courses