OBSERVERS of the European Tour will know how the Czech Republic has been back on the circuit for the last four years, after spending a couple of seasons out of the limelight.

The return is part of a drive within the country to showcase some spectacular courses, the like many amateur golfers from County Durham and beyond would not even have considered visiting.

But the Czech Republic has had an association with the sport for more than 100 years. There are numerous hidden gems tucked away in different corners, all ready to open fairways to golf tourists.

During a three-day break to the Czech Republic, four of the finest tracks that part of the world has to offer was served up along with plenty traditional Svickova beef to get a flavour of some of the most beautiful scenery and architecture imaginable.

What used to be a sport for the foreign clientele is being embraced by more and more locals, having gained popularity since the break-up of the Soviet Union when golf was seem more of a western hobby.

While Prague remains a hot-spot for weekend breaks because of its nightlife and general atmosphere, it is definitely worth packing your clubs and heading west – and still end up back there for a knock at the renowned Tour venue, Albatross before you leave.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant capital, a couple of days in the Karlovy Vary region, still a huge draw for Russians, highlighted how there is a rich golfing history, dating back to 1904 when the spa town opened its first course.

This specific trip didn’t take in the original, which in itself is described as one well worth a visit, but did take in the nearby Royal Marianske Lazne; a majestic parkland course surrounded by pine trees since being opened by King Edward VII.

Despite the sport almost dying in the former Czechoslovakia during the socialist era, it was brought back to life during the late 1980s and has got stronger and stronger since it hosted the first sanctioned European Tour event to be played on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain after the last Cold War ended.

Karlovy Vary, a picturesque part of the Bohemia boasting incredible architecture, edging towards the German border, was the perfect stopover. Martin, the golf-playing tour guide, pointed out the designer shops, the luxurious Grand Hotel Pupp along the Tepla River.

The following day it was over to the nearby Cihelny Golf Resort, situated in the Slavkovsky forest – no surprise given a third of the Republic is forest. It is a sign of how impressive the courses are that this picture-perfect setting, sitting on a flood plain and suffered from heavy rain on our visit, is only ranked as the country’s ninth best by many.

Gary Player’s name has been attached to it having designed the layout and there is a 64-bed spa hotel to stay in, as well as golf academy for youngsters, while you sample what is on offer including the downhill 116-yard fifth hole.

Heading back towards Prague, the Greensgate Golf & Leisure Resort presents a different test. Once host to a European Tour Ladies event, this is situated just on the outskirts of Plzen, where there is a famous brewery producing an unlimited supply for Pilsner.

As long as you don’t drink too much beer, the course is stunning too. There are numerous holes to catch the eye, but the pick has to be the downhill 361-yard par four 16th over the impressive signature 11th which is an elevated tee to an island green on the Lake Ejpovice.

It is a fantastic modern-day golf course worth playing and visiting, before then heading back to Prague for one course that should not be forgotten about.

For the fifth year in a row the D+D Czech Masters will be back at the Albatross Golf Resort this summer. It was only opened in 2009 but has quickly established itself as the country’s best at a build cost of 30m euros.

There is water dotted all over the course, built on the Cesky Kras Nature Reserve and stands 7,358-yard long. The length of it and the wider fairways are why it is suited to Tour golf, and doesn’t look too dissimilar to Rockliffe Hall at times.

It is pure luxury, hence why the likes of former Liverpool playmaker Patrick Berger is a regular visitor and he had just walked off the course on our arrival.

By the time the final of four rounds had finished, it was safe to say that the lashings of Svickova beef and the Pilsner had been worked off. A trip with a difference, and a trip worth making again to sample some of the others on offer.

* For further information on the Czech Republic’s golf scene visit click here