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The new 19th?

Golfers everywhere refer to the clubhouse as the 19th hole. The last place of refuge. A place to celebrate their victories or drown their sorrows. Back in the day, when I was no stranger to fairways and bunkers and talked animatedly about birdies and eagles, I, too, enjoyed a tipple and the accompanying reflection at the 19th.

On a road trip recently through northwestern Hungary, we’d booked ourselves in for a night at the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club. While the English translation of the website leaves a lot to be desired, I caught the essence of what was on offer and for once didn’t cross it off my list of options because no one took the trouble to check the grammar [and you know how difficult that was for me….]. That it was a reasonable €65 ppn B&B wasn’t the deciding factor either. What swayed me  was the fact that it had its own chapel  in the grounds. This I had to see.

I had visions of golfers invoking the protection of St Andrew, the patron saint of golf, before teeing off, perhaps even asking him to favour them over their matchplay opponent or praying that their mixed partner would be on form. The idea of providing a pit-stop for prayer before the first tee or after the last green had me completely intrigued.

The history of the place (or what I could glean from the website) dates back to the post-war years when the owner moved from Budapest to the nearby village of Bakonyjákó. Building a golf course was a dream project… one he made come true. Kudos due for that alone.

The chapel itself is tiny – but does the business. It was built to commemorate the birth of his son and stands in the grounds near the clubhouse. I’d had visions of a restored ruin so although it wasn’t quite what I’d expected, I’m glad we made the choice we did. The staff were lovely – I felt completely at home and would happily have stayed a week. They’ve managed – one and all – to hit on just the right amount of attention and are very much on the ball. The food was excellent. It even inspired me to add gnocchi to my culinary repertoire.

I counted six others at breakfast; it wasn’t a packed weekend. But apparently the weekend before had been booked solid. Were I asked to make a suggestion or two or two for improvement – I’d add some English-language books to the library and do something to improve the WiFi connection.  Minor really. There’s plenty to do and it’s a great base for seeing the likes of Zirc and Pannonhalma. If you’re in the neighbourhood, drop by.

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