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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » August 29, 2012
Warsaw Voice Life & Style Guide
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To a Tee
August 29, 2012   
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The tradition of golf in Poland goes back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, then there were only a couple of golf courses, which were the domain of the aristocracy and the army. Nonetheless, golf has a short history in Poland in comparison to the evolution of the sport in Europe. Golf reemerged together with democracy in Poland in 1989.

Today Poland has some of the best and most beautiful golf courses in Europe, many of which have been designed by leading international architects and which have world-class facilities. Golfing holidays in Poland have become popular and attract players from all over the world.

Designed by Scottish golf course architect Jan Sederholm, the first to open was the First Warsaw Golf & Country Club in Rajszew, north of Warsaw in 1992. Its success and popularity has encouraged the establishment of others around the country. Today, there are sixteen 18-hole golf courses. With the country’s growing prosperity their number has more than doubled since 2004 and at least four new projects are under construction. Poland’s growing affluence also means that the sport is attracting ever younger golfers and the fact that golf will be a discipline at the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro adds to the sport’s attractiveness.

The historic and most prestigious First Warsaw Golf & Country Club (FWG&CC), set among 150-year-old weeping willows and royal oak trees, is in the lead. Since it opened, the club has hosted prestigious golfing tournaments such as the Polish Open, Challenge Tour, PGA Cup, finals for Mid-Amateurs, PRO-AM finals, Match Play Championships, Warsaw Open Women’s Golf Cup, and World Golfers Championships. Also, the club will be hosting the PGA Polska Pro Tour over the next several years.

With a growing, exclusive membership, the FWG&CC is a much sought-after club among the locals and international visitors. Its members include diplomats and the chairmen and CEOs of major companies. The club also attracts celebrities, such as ex-NHL hockey player Mariusz Czerkawski, former Real Madrid goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, and actors Andrzej Strzelecki, Robert Rozmus and Piotr G±sowski, to name a few. During the Euro 2012 soccer championships in Warsaw in June, Michel Platini, president of the sport’s governing body in Europe, UEFA, said that FWG&CC is one of the best golf courses he had ever played on.

The new FWG&CC president and CEO, Nimrod Tavi, said the golf club had its share of woes, when in 2010 sections of the golf course were damaged due to floods and last year the clubhouse was destroyed by fire. But despite these challenges, Tavi sees a new opportunity to redevelop the complex and make it into an ultramodern facility while maintaining the club’s traditions. The new clubhouse complex will include a hotel with swimming pool and spa and conference facilities. An exclusive store with all kinds of golfing equipment and accessories is also planned. In time, there are plans to make it a real country club with tennis courts, horse riding and other non-golfing attractions.

According to Tavi, the golf club aims to provide its golfers with the best golfing conditions in Europe. Peter Bronson, one of the best professional players in Poland, gives lessons at the club. The new FWG&CC president also wants the club to be a fun place for adults, young professionals and more mature people, similarly as Disneyland is for kids.

An Open Day Picnic will be held Sept. 2 to provide attractive packages for women as well as juniors in order to introduce golf to a greater number of people.

Jolanta Wolska

The First Warsaw Golf & Country Club in Rajszew, 25 km from downtown Warsaw, was the first golf course to be opened in Poland after World War II. Designed by Swedish architect Jan Sederholm, it welcomed its first golfers in 1992. The natural landscape with an ancient forest and numerous water hazards make it both one of the most beautiful and most difficult master-series golf courses in Europe.

The First Warsaw Golf & Country Club consists of an 18-hole course, a covered driving range and four putting greens. It occupies 63 hectares of land in the picturesque valley of the Vistula River with natural ponds and impressive old trees. The course comprises 50 bunkers and 11 bodies of water 16 hectares in size in total. The first 11 holes are standard park holes with open fairways and numerous water hazards. The following holes are narrow fairways amid woodland. Each is different with a varying difficulty level, enabling golfers to practice and polish their skills.

Once a month during the golf season, the club holds Club Tournaments. The first, the Season Opening Tournament, takes place in late March and early April, and the season closes with the Independence Day Tournament in November. The tournaments comprise four handicap groups: 0-10.0, 10.1-16.0-net stroke play, 16.1-26.0 and 26.1-36.0-net stableford. Golfers who finish with the fewest strokes win the best gross score prize. Other events at the club include Closest to the Pin, Ladies’ Longest Drive, and Men’s Longest Drive.

Par: 71
Total hole length: 6,035 meters with white teeing areas and 5,657 m with yellow teeing areas.
The First Warsaw Golf & Country Club hosted the Challenge Tour (second-tier European golf tour) three times, in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
The three coming PGA Polska Pro Tour finals will take place in Rajszew in 2012-2014.
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