The last stop on our journey through the Baltic countries is Latvia. Despite the fact that there are only two golf clubs with 18-hole courses in Latvia, the traditions of golf are well developed here. The fact is that such a phenomenon as Pļavu golfs or “meadow golf” is widespread in Latvia. These are small golf courses (usually 9 par-3 holes), literally located in the meadows, which are kept on their farms by local farmers – golf enthusiasts.

Timofei Razin, #BALTICGOLF project manager

Continuation. Read about Lithuanian fields here . About Estonian fields – here .

Of course, such fields are more focused on golf lovers living outside the big cities, but, you see, this is a wonderful tradition that expands the boundaries of opportunities for playing and serves to attract new players to golf. So let’s wish the enthusiasts success and prosperity, while we ourselves turn to the major league – full-fledged championship fields.

OZO Golf Club

Opened 20 years ago by the Latvian hockey legend, NHL champion and multiple NHL All-Star Game participant Sandis Ozoliņš, OZO Golf Club is the first Latvian club with a full-fledged 18-hole championship par-72 course. It has become the main venue for various national and international competitions in Latvia. It is conveniently located right within the boundaries of Riga, from the center you can get here in 10-15 minutes.

There is a proshop with a sufficient range of goods for those who forgot something at home or did not take into account the possible vagaries of the weather. A restaurant with a terrace overlooking the field and a bar with a “wall of glory” made of Hole-in-One balls, and there are constant broadcasts of golf tournaments. The driving range consists of three zones and allows you to fully warm up before the round and practice any aspect of your game.

In my opinion, the main advantage of this golf course is its diversity. The architects thoughtfully approached its design, making the most of the potential of the local landscape. It is difficult to find two similar holes here, each throws its own individual challenge to the player. I have played more rounds in this club in my life than anywhere else, but despite this, playing here does not bother me so far, and every time it brings joy.

A nice detail: there are a few foxes in Ozo who like to sunbathe in bunkers, sheltering from the wind blowing from the lake, and hunt ducks and swans in the ponds. Foxes are not dangerous, they rather avoid people, but they are used to golfers and are practically not afraid of them.

Let’s go directly to the field. I would divide it into several characteristic parts that differ in their character.

The first part is the holes, decorated in a typical park style. Perhaps, here one should only be afraid of a rather high and dense rough, which can very effectively mask the balls that have flown into it and make it difficult for the player to knock them out. It is also a good idea to purchase a stroke saver book that will warn you of seemingly invisible dangers in the form of out-of-bounce field borders approaching almost the fairway itself or penalty areas – small ponds that “suck in” the player’s ball.

On the second part of the course, we enter the woods, where we first play a 3-hole steam hole up the slope, not seeing the green and focusing only on the top of the flag. For the game here, it will not be superfluous at all before the start of the round to look at the positions of the flag on the green that day and compare them with those indicated on the score card.

The next par-5 hole can be described as a dog-leg, but there are other challenges in addition to the player’s curves. Any false hit here results in getting into the forest, and the forest here is not easy. Not only does it approach the fairway from both sides, but the fairway itself is raised in such a way that ravines run along it on both sides. Well, to add even more spice, the fireway itself is designed in waves, so that when hitting from a low part, the player does not see the flag. This feature imposes an additional responsibility on the players in terms of safe play: before making a hit, you must make sure that there are no other players in the ball landing zone, and you yourself must put a run or cart on an elevated part to indicate your presence for the flight following you.

I can recommend that when playing this hole, choose the most cautious and non-aggressive strategy, well, and enjoy the surrounding scenery. A nice bonus for the player is the general peaceful atmosphere that reigns here. In any weather, it is calm, quiet here, the birds sing, there is a centuries-old pine forest around. Relax and enjoy.

The next, third part of the field takes the player to the shore of the lake, along which we have to play 4 holes in a row. After a forest idyll here, near the water, you will most likely be met by a wind that can be quite strong and usually blows in your face. On these holes, the fairway is limited to the right by the penalty area, or, more simply, by the water, so any slice will result in a loss of the ball and a penalty. The culmination of the game in this part of the course is the 8th par-5 hole, as if cut by the lake shoreline into 3 peninsulas. Here again, the stroke server book will serve well, as well as a well-thought-out strategy and accurate execution of strikes.

I hope that you have successfully covered the previous parts of the field, saved your ball, and now you can relax a bit, because there are some not so difficult holes ahead. Not the most difficult, but not quite simple either: there are surprises in the form of bunkers, inconspicuous ponds or a tree growing right in the center of the fairway. So relax, but not too much.

And so, alternating holes of different lengths and complexity, you reach tee 13, which is the unofficial signature hole of the entire course. On the one hand, this is a relatively short par 3 hole with a fairly large putting green. But this green is washed on two sides by water, on the third side it is limited by a bunker (and on the opposite side of the green from the bunker there is again water). Yes, I forgot to say, the pond starts almost from the very tee boxes, and any wrong shot that goes to the right will cause the ball to hit the water. On the left is the out-of-bounce line, leaving only a not very wide passage between it and the shore of the pond. Think positive, play confidently, remember to allow for the wind, and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun playing this hole.

Well, the most difficult part is over, and then you can just enjoy the game.

Jurmala Golf Club & Hotel

Jurmala Golf Club was built on the site of the old Saliena golf course. Although some holes were partially or completely built on the old site, it is now a completely new course. It should be noted that it was designed by one of the world’s most famous architectural bureaus in the field of golf courses Nicklaus Design, which is clearly visible in some of its features. This is the first and so far the only field in the Baltic States from the famous architectural bureau.

The club is located not in Jurmala itself, but at the entrance to it, next to the outlet center Via Jurmala. Probably, it was designed this way to give the men the opportunity to pass the time playing while the wives go shopping. Although it is still unclear who will have to while away the time in the end …

Let’s go back to the club. The club is brand new, this applies to both the clubhouse and the training area. In the building of the club house there is a hotel with 17 rooms, which is actually reflected in the name.

In the club, everything is done at the level: comfortable, thoughtful, but at the same time no frills. Light, comfortable dressing rooms with lockers with a combination lock, in each of which a guest is waiting for a towel, each dressing room is equipped with a sauna. The building has a restaurant and a bar with a terrace, panoramic windows overlooking the field. A small pro-shop where you can buy local merchandise, as well as the necessary clothes and equipment.

The driving range is undoubtedly the pride of the club. It is divided into several zones, there are both simple slots for practicing hits and a closed part, each slot in which is equipped with a launch monitor that shows all the swing and ball flight parameters. There is a separate area for practicing short play and putting, which is so good that you can spend the whole day there. Considering the fact that more than half of the strokes in golf are made on or around the green, I think the time spent here will be not only enjoyable, but also rewarding.

The best characteristic of this would be “moderation”. It is moderately complex, moderately long and moderately varied.

The architects managed to reach a compromise by designing the field in such a way that the game on it was both interesting, but not frustrating for the player. The very harsh tight rough is compensated by the fairways being wide enough to avoid hitting it. True, if you are still unlucky enough to be inside this thick grass, then the best idea would be to play it safe and just kick the ball into the nearest fairway section.

This field has such a feature that there are not so many objects on it, by which it is possible to determine the point of landing of the ball, and if it hits the rough, there is literally nothing for the eye to catch on. I advise you to keep this in mind and look very carefully where your ball lands, trying to find at least some object that can become a guide when searching for it. Compared to OZO, there is not much really “dangerous” water in Jurmala, but what is there literally “sucks” your ball if it lands close to it. All the ponds here are of peat origin and the water in them is very muddy, you cannot see the ball at the bottom. Therefore, when you hit the water, try to determine in advance where he crossed the boundaries, which will allow you to choose the right place for the face-off.

The field is designed in a kind of semi-links style. It has many of the characteristic attributes of a lynx field, such as the special fescue grass and strong wind that blows almost constantly, but at the same time it is not a pure lynx.

In general, the wind really rules the ball here. I will give one example. On the field there are located immediately after each other, similar at first glance, two 5-steam holes running parallel, but in opposite directions. It would seem, why did the architects make it so boring? However, when you play here, it is unlikely that you will find them the same or even similar. And the main reason for this is the same wind that will slow down or speed up the flight of the ball so much that on one of the holes you can play the second shot on the green, and on the other you will have to try very hard to do the same with the third shot.

The general grooming of the entire field is striking. All parts are maintained in perfect condition. Indeed, there is simply nothing to complain about here, even the raf looks perfectly neat.

A separate pleasure is the game of sand. Of course, getting into a banker in itself is not the most pleasant moment. However, these bankers can be compared to a work of art. Everything is good in them: both form and content. They can be small and large, round, in the form of clover leaves or bizarre, but whatever the shape, they are still beautiful. As for the content, they use special snow-white sand from Finland, which on a sunny day just sparkles in the sun and dazzles with its whiteness.

The greens, like everything else on this course, are in excellent condition. You are unlikely to find an unsealed pitch mark or other flaw here.

The size and complexity of the greens deserves separate words. They are designed not just like that, but as if in symbiosis with the hole, which is logically completed. It seemed to me that the simpler the hole to the green, the more surprises the green itself can present to the player in terms of size, profile and protection by water and bunkers. But no matter how difficult or vice versa the green may seem, making a stalemate on any of them is really nice.

And one more small detail. Maybe I’m biased, or I’m just lucky on this course, but I always feel that the holes here are cut in such a way as to forgive small stalemate errors. No matter how many times my ball rolled along the very edge of the hole, it always rolled into it.

Finally, I would like to add that Jurmala Golf Club also has a second, academic 9-hole golf course, consisting exclusively of 3 steam holes. So if you have time and energy left after the round, then you should not miss the opportunity to leave your name in the history of the club by making Hole-in-One.

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