This year will mark 25 years since the European Challenge Tour first visited the Czech Republic, with the D+D REAL Czech Challenge returning for a sixth successive season and now joined by a new event, the Prague Golf Challenge.
Ahead of the Challenge Tour’s visit to Drítec in May and the Czech capital in July, we decided to take a look back at the country’s long association with Europe’s top developmental tour.
Tinkler the top Playboy
The first Challenge Tour event in the Czech Republic was 1992’s Playboy Charity Challenge in Mariánské Lázně, towards the German border in the west of the country.
Lucien Tinkler claimed his first and only Challenge Tour title in the 54-hole event, the Australian beating future winning Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley in a play-off.
A year later, now named the Corfin Charity Challenge, England’s Ian Spencer claimed a second Challenge Tour title at the same venue.
Kings of the Czech castle
After skipping a year, the Challenge Tour was back on Czech soil in 1995 for the KB Golf Challenge, taking place in the shadows of Karlštejn Castle on the outskirts of Prague.
Eric Giraud took a third career title that year with Joakim Rask succeeding him in 1996 before in 1997 Germany’s Alex Cejka – who was born in the Czech Republic before moving to Munich aged nine – was victorious.
Cejka still has a house in Prague and assisted in the design of Prague City Golf, the host of this year’s new tournament.
1998 was the final year the KB Golf Challenge appeared on the Challenge Tour schedule and Stephen Gallacher began his journey towards ultimate Ryder Cup success with a maiden professional win.
Drama in Drítec
Following a 14 year gap, the Czech Republic once again hosted the Challenge Tour in 2012 with the inception of the D+D REAL Czech Challenge, now a staple on the Road to Oman.
Golf & Spa Kunetická Hora has played host for five years, with Andreas Hartø the first to take victory before the tournament saw three French winners – François Calmels, Thomas Linard and Damien Perrier – in four years, with Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring breaking the sequence in 2015.
The tournament is back for a sixth time this year, with D+D REAL extending their involvement in golf to include the European Tour, where the D+D REAL Czech Masters has been staged since 2014.
With a second trip to the country now added into the Road to Oman schedule, 2017 is sure to be another outstanding chapter in the 25 year association between the Challenge Tour and the Czech Republic.