The players at the Czech Open will be taking a step into the unknown this week, with a ‘new’ course making its debut at the €1.5million event.
The term new is perhaps a touch misleading, as the layout the 142 hopefuls will be tackling is in fact a composite course, made up of nine holes from the Old Course and nine from the New Course.
It was always the intention of Miguel Angel Jiménez, who co-designed both courses, to use the ‘Middle Course’ – as it is now known – ever since Prosper Golf Resort was first announced as the host venue in 2009.
But, as Tournament Director Miguel Vidaor explained, the region’s harsh winters initially scuppered their well-laid plans.
He said: “It was always Miguel’s aim to use the Middle Course, because he believed that would make for the best course of the 36 holes here at Prosper Golf Resort. But because of the tough winters the region suffered in the first two years that we were here, we couldn’t use two of the holes from the Old Course. Fortunately, despite the large amount of rainfall we’ve had here recently, they’re fine this year, hence why we’re able to play the Middle Course this time.
“The feedback from all the players so far has been very positive. They’re very happy, especially with the greens, because they feel the ones on the front nine this week are now much fairer. It’s a very challenging layout, but also a very fair one. If you play well, there are birdie chances out there, but if you play badly, you’ll get punished. That’s the way it should be.”
Those sentiments were echoed by the course designer, who is expecting his fellow competitors to face another tough test on their third visit to Prosper Golf Resort.
Jiménez said: “I was very happy that we were able to use the Middle Course for the first time this year. The nine holes on the Old Course which we have used for the last two years are fantastic, and I’m sure the new nine we’ll be using for the first time this year will also improve the course a lot. It’s a bit longer, and it will also make the players think much more, because some of the holes are quite tactical.”
Englishman Gary Boyd for one is relishing the prospect of testing himself against the new layout, as he bids to go one better than last year, when he and Irishman Peter Lawrie were edged out in a play-off by winner Peter Hanson of Sweden.
He said: “It’ll be interesting to see what the scoring’s going to be like this year. The new nine is a lot more wide open than the old nine we played last year, but it’s also a bit longer, so it probably evens itself out. On the back nine you can make a score, so that’s probably where you want to be picking up shots. But it’s quite wet out there, whereas it was very dry last year, so it’ll be playing a lot longer this time.
“The greens are in great condition, and they’re also very quick, so you’re going to have to manage your approach shots well to try to stay below the hole. I’m sure it’s going to be an enjoyable week.”