The Penati Golf Resort, host venue for this week’s inaugural D+D Real Slovakia Challenge, has proven one of the most popular courses of the European Challenge Tour season so far, with players lavishing praise upon the Nicklaus-designed ‘Legend’ lay-out.
This week marks the first ever major men’s professional golf tournament to be held in the beautiful eastern European nation and the players have received an extremely warm welcome from the Slovakian people, not to mention the beautiful blue skies which have greeted Europe’s top up and coming stars.
But one of the real revelations of the week has been the pristinely-kept Legend course at Penati Golf Resort, a lay-out which has proven as enjoyable for the players as it has been challenging.
While there have been plenty of low scores due to the relatively short length of the course (even if it has the longest hole in Europe – a 715m par six which has been reduced this week), there is still plenty of trouble lurking for those who stray off line
“It’s a beautiful course and it’s in great condition,” said Jaakko Makitalo, who was three shots off the lead after Day Two. “The greens are really funky and you have to be on the right side of the pin every time.
“Even though I’ve never been a big fan of huge greens these have many greens on one green and I would think I’m a pretty good ball-striker so maybe that helps, when you can position the approaches on the right tiers.
“If you’re going up and down the greens all the time then you’re going to three-putt. I had to do it twice or three times and I just about avoided three-putts. It’s still not a long course and the greens are pretty soft so you can have a go at them.”
Former European Tour winner Ross McGowan was also revelling in the picturesque tree-lined course, just outside the town of Senica.
“You have to think your way around here a little bit around here,” he said. “You can’t go at every flag but if you hit the right parts of the green you can hit it close because they are quite soft.
“The key to this place is when you do miss a pin, miss it in a good spot and you’ve always got a chance of a birdie.”
McGowan’s compatriot Robert Coles, a three time Challenge Tour winner, was certainly enjoying his time having tied for the lead after the opening round and he believes the par fives could be crucial with regard to who takes home the prize at the end of this week.
“The course is in great condition,” he said. “There are some really nice holes and it’s really well set out. It’s just nice to be out there playing on a course like this. You get chances out there. The par fives are reachable, even though they’re tricky, and you’ve got a chance if you hit good shots.”