Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Zbraslav, Prague City Course, Czech Republic

Par 72, 6161m (white tees), Slope 133, by Alex Cejka.
As we dropped back down into the river valley from the hills outside prague a chilly fog closed in over us . . . inside the unique clubhouse are golf-dimple psycho-wallpaper, and gothic cellar arches . . .

They have a huge practice putting green course with 18 holes, called the Himalayas. I spent some good time there -- wasted as it turned out, they hadn't brushed the greens yet, which rolled entirely different when done.

No expense spared. A picturesque scottish style bridge over one of the scottish style burns.

It was very gloomy over the practice tees . . . the sun was barely peeking thru the clouds.

From the first tee it looked impossible . . . I've played in the fog before, in houston, but the anxiety level of my playing partners raised my hackles . . . this course must be really hard . . . I didn't think we'd ever finish the first hole . . . I failed to find the fairway 3 shots in a row, the first cut rough is bad enough, but then there's this scottish style whin all over, too . . . fuhgeddaboutit if your ball goes in there.

I'm not sure my opinions are valid... terrible course for a first timer, even with three guides . . . 8^D . . . greens are severely contortured -- not too slick, in compensation, but gaaaaaah . . . scottish style links course, imitation, I would say, but anyway just write me down for 98 and call it a day... 

Totally overwhelmed by the chilly fog, I took no picture of #2 -- I assume a double bogey.

#3 is 180m par 3, as you can see, even more intimidating in the fog, redundantly intimidating when the saddle green is elevated 5 meters above the tee ground, surrounded by a giant waste area, moundy clumps of whin. . . by accident, I popped up my 7wood short of the green, splayed a 5iron chip that just didn't quite roll back out of the fringe, pin high, up on the top tier, 3 putt from there.

#4 par 5, might be a breather in sunlight . . . could just make out the first shadows of the day . . . found the fairway safe enough, pureed a 5wood down just short of the green, behind that outcrop you see, pitched over that long onto the green, and 3 putted, when it wasn't as fast coming back down the hill as I expected. Naaah. Tough hole.

#5 par 4 . . . good drive, weak approach (typical this day -- performance anxiety).
#6 par 4, one of the most linksy looking holes, full of fairway pot bunkers . . . pulled my drive left of the big bunker that sits dead in the middle. Confidently calc'lated allowing for meterage, wind, etc, and hit a half wedge 35m past the pin . . . course a lot of that was the roll down into the saddle of this double green. Hit so many terrible short and mid irons this day that to have the one I hit well turn out so bad was excruciating . . . 3putt bogey.
#7 par 5, #1 handicap hole .. .pulled my drive into the light rough on a side hill down hill lie . . . woulda hit a fairway wood, since this is a l-o-n-g hole, but opted for a 5iron to cope with the lie, which seemed to work alright, I was in the fairway, in between 3 huge bunkers on a flat lie, but couldn't hit another successful 5iron in succession. chipped my 4th shot way past the hole (again, over-and-over again, tho' I don't know how, the greens were so slow putting).

#8 par 3, another very linksy hole. beelined a half-7wood right at the pin, but it took a bad bounce right into a pot bunker. Got out "ok" but then 3jack. I don't know that you can see in this picture how large this green is (they all are rather large), or how hilly it is. . . believe me when I tell you: hilly.
#9 short par 4. . . same old x2 . . . good drive, pathetic approach, tough green.
#10 par 5. . . something a little different now, some water comes into play on the back9 . . . perplexed by this new anxiety, I popped my drive up short. hit a reasonable fairway wood, but the approach (longer than it needed to be) was as bad as any this day. It's one thing to have tough greens, but this is another tough pin placement too, just behind that turf ripple on the green.
#11 par 4, teeth-gritting resolution to play better . . . good drive, then I tho't I'd finally hit a good approach, but it was on the front of the green, while the pin was in back. . . then --- spurious phone calls from work about problems that aren't mine, but the help desk can't really make that call, once the application support team gives up . . . somewhat flustered, I called my colleague, got call waiting, and putted, short, up hill, 3 times. Now Upset. Talked to my colleague; turned the problem over to her.
#12 par 4 seemed like a masterful design:
- that water just tempts you to drive over it but it scales way back as it goes right to left in a deception designed to grab balls . . .the shore is double protected with cattails, which just kill any ball, so no skipping over the pond. . . the shot is to aim at the trap on the left and fade it right or aim at the the trap on the right and draw it left . . . so I aimed left and drew it, with just enough juice to get over the water, by 10m or less, which actually was very, very good, leaving me a good look at the green and pin . . .people right of there had to come over a complex of 5 pot bunkers . . . and with the pin set over on the right side of the green . . .great hole. One of my companions took the time to tell me that the hole played a club longer than it looked. I believed him, but part of me didnt. . . I was amazed when I looked back from the green how far up hill it was . . . but I did hit an extra club, a very thin 8iron that wound up pin high, down hill from the pin, perfekt. you can see at the far right of the picture.missed that birdie. didn't even reach the hole.

That hole #12 is the first of something they call Amen Corner, three holes around an old quarry, still under re-hab . . . it's awesome now, will be double-awesome when they make it look less unfinished.
#13 par 5 is a trial because you have to hit less than driver for the first shot because of the hazard on the right and huge bunkers on the left. . . I pulled my 3wood left into the bunker . . . now I always say that fairway bunkers don't bother me, bein' a son of west texas, but the pov from this bunker was terrible, hazard on the right, fairway sloping down to the hazard, and ob all along the right side . . .to reach the green you need to gain SOME meterage, even out of the trap. . . I even backed down to 6iron instead of 5, but it still caught the long grass on the edge of the grap, so maybe only 100m , but it tip-toed around the corner bouncing hard away from the water, so ok! Then another pathetic 7iron approach that sliced down to the bottom of the green, I mean like 40m from the pin, and a very steep slope, maybe 2m top to bottom ? I hit another 5iron bump-&-run -- I had such good luck with that at Slapy that I tho't it must be a natural for me, but every single one today was long, long, long. so no par.
#14 par 4 is the one that all my partners were grumbling about . . .very tough hole. . . you have to be very brave and very long to cut any of the corner off. Most of us just tried to get down the left side somewhere with less than a driver, but then that left me 150m, which today is a no-goer. . . I foozled up near the green, with a bunker between me and the pin, with a steep slope -- the only hope was to pop it up with some back spin and land it in a square meter above the hole and trickle down. . . so I bladed it over the green into the hazard. Sigh.
#15 par 4, just too worked up over my failures to hit a good drive . . actually found it, in semi good shape -- in a cuppy lie of patchy rough on a steep side hill lie next to the water, but I should have tho't I could hit a 9iron out of that anyway . . . nope. total foozle. Dropped a new ball and hit that one to the middle of the green. too little too late.

#16 par 3, 160m to a very difficult skinny green.. . .I pulled a half 7wood left of the green, which gave me another try at a 5iron chip, which didn't turn out tooo bad, pin high above the cup, but I missed the par putt, and the bogey putt.

#17 par 4 is an intimidating look... one hardly knows how much to cut off. My partners recommended a fairway wood over a particular hazard marker so that's what I did; plenty of stick, sliced tho', wound up in the fringe that large fairway bunker . . .no problem, except that it was still 130m, with an ugly looking bunker gaurding the right side of the green where the pin was . . . so I aimed left . . . but then the green . . . OMG . . . it's like 47m wide and 21m deep, with 6 different putting areas. . . the front left where I was is scalloped out to be the lowest part, there's a tier above that that seems sort of flatish, then a middle tier that's higher than that and relatively flat, then the right side is on a lower tier sloping away, like a false edge . . .that's like a 1m dropoff. I made an outstanding putt, so I was only 10-12 ft past the pin. No Par.

#18 is a flat par 3, with a heinous valley-of-sin-like swale short left of the pin and bunkers all around the rest. It's a big green so if you have that high 160m shot, no big problem. . . I do not. mid irons had totally abandoned me this day, and this was no exception. More practice for my 5iron chip.

I would say that 4,6,10,15 were good holes, and 3,7,8,12,13,14,17 were great holes. . . the layout's is a little odd, finishing 3-4-3, but never mind that . . . 

I didn't like how similar the par3s were in distance, tho' they all have unique characteristics. #16 irritated me with how skinny-&-wide the green looked from the tee.

The par 5s were all very interesting and diverse.
Maybe one short par 4 would have been nice.

Some of these holes I've marked as great border on unfair, especially the greens. . . it's one thing to say that you need to place your approach on the right side of the pin to putt well, but when the whole hole militates against it with hazards, dog-legs, and deep bunkers, whew.

Still, no doubt it's a top-grade course, even tho' it's flatter than liberec or karlstejn, e.g. A 2 on the scottsdale scale, with expectations that it will mature and be tweaked in the future . . . the so-called Amen Corner there at Zbraslav would never get old . . . you can get in trouble so many different ways . . . 8^D