Jakub Cervenka of CZGDA is under way with a four-hole redesign project at Golf Club Poděbrady, located west of Prague in the Czech Republic.
The project will see the creation of new first, second, third and eighteenth holes as well as developing new practice facilities.
Construction began in August 2020, with work on greens, bunkers, tees and irrigation all complete. Seeding is to be finished this autumn with the opening of the new holes and golf academy planned for May 2021.
The course’s origins date back to 1961 when Prague local Karel Havelka came up for a plan to create some golf holes for the sports club TJ Slovan Poděbrady. Havelka, along with his colleague Josef Punčochář, identified an area of floodplain forests east of Poděbrady in which to build the layout. The pair were joined by a team of landscape architects to carry out their plan, including Ing. B. Wagner and J. Finger. By 1969, the course had expanded to six holes and then to nine in 1974. “According to the original design, only seven holes were built from the first nine, although the drawings included a complete eighteen,” said Cervenka.
It was taken on by Golf Club Poděbrady in 1993 and seven years later, became an 18-hole course.
“Today’s situation is the result of various modifications, changes and completion of holes during the course’s existence,” said Cervenka. “The biggest change was the completion of the second nine.”
Having considered doing restorative work, Cervenka decided a redesign was the best path for the club. “We decided to redesign the course with a new, strategic, aesthetically different coat,” he said. “The existing Poděbrady is an inland course and must remain so after the redesign. Earth movement will be minimised to the bare minimum so that my own design principles are followed. There are open and clear greens, as well as clearly visible bunkers with an attractive, uniform design of grass banks, which create a strategic situation for players.”
Cervenka’s redesign has seen the creation of a short par-four first hole, followed by a par three and then a dog leg par four.
“The game should start with a short, simple par four,” said Cervenka. “I always want each tee to appeal to the player with two main sensations. The first is a pleasant view of the hole. It should capture the view of the individual game elements, including nicely open and interestingly designed bunkers, and an expectant green in the distance. After this, the second moment should see players think about how they will progress through the hole, and which game management to choose.”
The land for the second hole is very flat, something that is a feature throughout the course. “I chose the concept of a richly bunker-protected green,” said Cervenka. “The player is placed in a situation in which they have to think and concentrate on the choice of club, the shape of the shot and the correct target line. The green is protected, as if locked in view from the tees by three bunkers. We have to make sure that the edge of the front bunkers is very visible from the tee. At the same time, it is necessary that the green is visible for players.”
Cervenka says the redesigned third hole completes a gradual introduction of a ‘new Poděbrady’ style. Some of the challenges he identifies include opening views for shots from the back tees as well as shaping both sides of the fairway so that balls roll towards the centre for an easier approach to the green. The next phase of the project will include work on the stream.
The redesigned holes have a more modern feel to them, and Cervenka plans to continue with this look for future phases. “However, I will try to preserve the uniqueness of the Poděbrady landscape and to highlight and support its uniqueness with newly conceived game elements,” said Cervenka.
Greens will be larger so that there are plenty of options for pin positions with bunkers of “a fairly good size” too, so they are visible and of strategic interest. Cervenka has also undertaken some renumbering of holes to have smoother transitions in the routing.
As well as work on the golf course, new practice facilities have been designed.
“The area will offer players three putting greens,” said Cervenka. “The smallest one is 300 square metres and is near the first tees. Within the golf academy, we offer players a large putting green – almost 1,000 square metres – with mild undulations, interestingly set between the path and driving tees. An exceptional concept, however, is the second putting green, with the surface area perfectly flat.”
There will also be a chipping area that includes a large green and two bunkers and the driving range will offer target greens.