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Black River near Bratislava, Slovakia may be Europe's hardest golf course

Stephan GuertlerBy Stephan Guertler,
Black River golf course - 6th hole
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Black River has been rated the best course in Slovakia by Golf Digest. (Courtesy of Black River)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Slovakia isn't really known as a golf destination. This could be changing, however, as this central European country boasts a growing number of courses.

Black River, the country's first golf course, was rated the best course in Slovakia by Golf Digest. With its unusual and unconventional design, Black River helped put golf in Slovakia on the map. The course is situated roughly 10 miles from the city center of Bratislava and can be reached by car in 20 minutes.

Black River is part of a resort that also includes the 27-hole facility White Eurovalley in Malacky. With 55 holes, this is the biggest golf resort in this part of Europe.

Golf at Black River

Opened in 2006, the Black River golf course is an 18-hole, par-73 layout with a course rating of 79.5 and a slope rating of a whopping 155.

"Even experienced and well travelled golfers tell us our course is one of a kind," Jaroslav Kachlik, the club's president and owner, said. "The goal was to create the designer's golf course ... that would challenge golfers around the world. Now I know this mission was accomplished. We have visitors from all over the world who come to us to test their skills."

Black River's first six holes are rather short and serve as a warm-up. A castle is the background on the sixth, a par-5 hole. As a parkland course, trees frame most holes so accurate shots and strategic play are required.

Starting with the seventh tee, players will notice a change. It is elevated, so many of the other holes are visible, and the drive is across a river. The twisting fairways make the course look like a moonscape; a few blind shots add to the challenge. The greens are an experience in themselves -- they are very undulating, and many of them have steep slopes. Players putting from the wrong side of the green are looking at three putts or more.

"This course is unlike anything I have ever seen before," one low-handicap golfer said.

A high-handicap player playing Black River for the first time added: "The greens look like roller coasters."

Black River's back nine

Black River's back nine consists of two par 5s and only one par 3. The finishing hole is a mid-length par 4 where the river has to be crossed for a second time.

"This is possibly the hardest course I have ever played," said another low-handicap golfer. "Inaccurate shots are punished -- often severely. The greens are the wildest I have ever seen. You could say this course is a real beast."

Black River Resort has a teaching professional on staff who offers individual lessons as well as group courses. The practice facility consists of a driving range, several putting greens and two golf academy holes.

Black River golf course: The verdict

If you are looking to play a round of golf in or near Bratislava, you definitely want to consider playing Black River.

With its unique design features, it's unlike any other course you have ever seen. Leave your ego at home and take along lots of golf balls -- this "monster" can even bring skilled players to their knees.

Without a doubt, however, it is an exciting golf experience you'll remember for a long time.

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Black River golf courseBlack River G.C.

Stephan Guertler is a golf writer and a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He is based in Vienna, Austria and travels the world to review golf courses, destinations and resorts.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Black River

    Dan Krull wrote on: Mar 18, 2015

    Yes it is tough. It is also in very poor shape and has a confusing and strange layout, a poor pro shop and no real clubhouse. Malacky has a little better club house but when we played it in 2013 the fairways were bare, no water in the ponds and no sand in the traps. There are a few very good courses in Slovakia i.e. Black Stork, Grey Bear and the new Nickalas complex-Penati.Take the extra 30 minutes each way and play Penati.