Golf Arrives. Finally.
It took years of planning and permissions for the Royal Kyiv Golf Club to come to life, but they did just that last weekend with the first 9 holes of a planned 54 total. I was lucky enough to join local golfers and duffers from nearly a dozen countries west of the city in Makariv district for Ukraine’s first-ever Texas scramble golf tournament. The weather was perfect – sunny, blue skies, 30 Celsius – but what made the day so special was that finally, we have golf in Ukraine.
So many times during the 18-hole tourney my friends and I openly reveled in finally being able to golf in the country. It’s hard to express, honestly speaking. Growing up in Saskatchewan, where the province’s residents enjoy more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in North America, I was more than a bit spoiled. Living in Ukraine the last seven years, I’ve gotten used to golfing just once or twice a year (weather permitting) back in Canada where my brother and brothers in law golf usually about once per week. Alex Sokolev and Tony Westwood – the two deputy course marshals for the course opening tournament, really have to be commended for the fine event they helped put on. It surely won’t be the last either given the vast potential the area has.
RKGC have brought in English golf course designer Martin Hawtree to create a truly amazing course west of the city and I, for one, can’t wait for the rest of the course to be completed. Another nine holes should be ready by the end of the summer, with the remaining 36 holes to be finished up over the next 1-2 years. Unfortunately right now, since the event I took part in on Saturday was an invitational, I don’t yet know about course availability, green fees, rentals or anything else, but prospective golfers can certainly check out the RKGC website for more information: http://kievgolfclub.com.
One small note on golf in Ukraine: aside from the Golf Center Kiev in Obolon (www.golf-center.com.ua), an 18-hole course in eastern Luhansk region is partially complete as well as a very exclusive private course near Kyiv in Piatikhatka village. Sadly, there’s virtually no public info about these other two courses.
More fun on the water
If Kyiv’s party boats and Hydropark weren’t enough to help one cool off this summer, some friends have introduced me to an area adjacent to the city’s massive Druzhby Narodiv Park where they have a wakeboard practice facility (100% electrical propulsion) as well as mountain bike plus canoes, kayaks and paddle boats for rent. The whole complex gives you that feeling you’re out of town when in fact you’re in full view of the Moscow Bridge.
First, the Zion wakeboarding and waterskiing park encompasses a stretch of the Dnipro River that is now a great, 100m-long channel where novice, intermediate and even experienced wakeboarders/waterskiers can enjoy the water without needing to rent a boat. For Hr 120 (Hr 150 for those without a board) anyone can show up (passport or suitable ID in hand) and enjoy a half-hour at the park, riding the rounds and trying out some of the many jumps they’ve installed.
For paddling enthusiasts, the Adrenalin canoe/kayak beach rents simple but sturdy 3-person canoes and kayaks for Hr 30 per hour. The surrounding area also offers some great little trips for paddlers. My fiancée and friends and I took a trip up a small side channel and discovered a near-tropical waterway with all kinds of marine and birdlife rarely seen elsewhere in town. A great time and worth the wait to get a boat (they go fast on hot days).
And for bikers, at the same spot the skier.com.ua facility (including restaurant and bar) offers rentals of hardcore Cannondale, Specialized and other full-suspension, full disc-brake mountain bikes for use on trails in expansive Druzhby Narodiv Park. Rental rates range from Hr 24-40/hour and they even have sizes for kids starting at Hr 5/20 min.
One last note
Was I the last one in this city to find out about Soiree, this great restaurant at 12 Artema just off Lvivska Square in the embassy district? The outdoor patio, lighting, plants and atmosphere are also like the waterpark at Druzhby Narodiv, creating another world entirely. A friend recommended this place to me a year ago and yet I just checked it out with my fiancée Sunday night. Imagine: reasonable prices, great service, tasty food and quiet – definitely one of the city’s best outdoor dining spots!